‘They come on illegal runways and bring food and material for mining,’ Davi explains. ‘They cut the trees and make holes about three or four metres deep. All the dirt that comes out fills the river, and the mercury they use is dangerous. The fish get ill and die and the animals that drink the water also die. The huge puddles of dirty water they leave behind spread malaria because they attract mosquitoes. We get ill from bathing and drinking. This is why I have come to Europe – I’m going to try talking to politicians to see if they can put pressure on the Brazilian Government to stop this.’
"Gold mining is not the only threat faced by this community. Davi tells me that three military barracks have already been built on Yanomami land by order of the Brazilian Government, and that more are planned for the border with Venezuela. The barracks are allegedly to bolster national security, but they are more likely to please the US, which is anxious to support any policy that threatens Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. At best, the Yanomami people will have their way of life disrupted by more illness and intrusion; at worst, they’ll be caught in a crossfire beyond their control."