By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Buildings housing Brazil’s environmental agencies Ibama and ICMBio in the middle of the Amazon forest were set ablaze on Friday by miners retaliating against the confiscation of barges used for illegal gold mining operations in the Madeira River. According to an official report, federal agents set fire to some of the barges apprehended, making miners angry.
“An investigation is under way so we can deliver a detailed report to the governor on those responsible for this overwhelming, extremely violent event so that the government can take appropriate action,” said Amazonas state’s Deputy Governor and Security Secretary Bosco Saraiva, during a press conference during the weekend.
Preliminary information obtained by the Amazonas Public Security Secretariat (SSP-AM), shows that agents from the federal agencies set fire to the barges that also served as residence for miners. There were no reports of any injuries due to the fires.
“Illegal mining finances land occupation and has contributed to increased violence in the countryside. This scenario requires a strong performance of public institutions,” justified a joint declaration by IBAMA and ICMBio of their operations in the region.
According to the two environmental agencies, the attacks on government buildings will not deter agents from monitoring illegal mining sites and shutting down unauthorized mining actions. “The operation on the Madeira River (Amazonas and Roraima states) is carried out jointly by the Army, Navy and National Force. The fight against illicit operations in the river and in the region will be maintained.”
Amazonas state governor has requested federal troops to be sent to the municipality of Humaita to dissipate tension between environment agents and miners.