Diamond Mining
[Image Courtesy: The Earth Story]

Diamond mining is not only crushing Africa’s ecosystem and locals, and giving rise to Conflict Diamonds but also destroying Brazil’s environment, threatening its indigenous communities to extinction and giving way for Blood diamonds smuggling across several countries in Latin America. Brazil’s Rossevelt Reserve had experienced all this during the peak of ‘Diamond Rush’ in 2004 but since then the situation has only worsened, according to InSight Crime – a foundation for studying and reporting organized crime in Latin America and Caribbean.

Amazon Rainforest

Home to the rich ecological habitat of various flora and fauna, Amazon Rainforests is a treasure trove of Brazil. However, it is believed that it also sits on one of the biggest diamond reserves on earth. Diamond mining has cleared an area of around 10 Km width by 2 Km length apart from another surrounding area called Grota do Sossego spanning 2 Km. But miners and locals estimate the area of exploratory diamond mining to be much bigger, more than 1,000 hectares. Without any clear laws and regulations, diamond mining continues to destroy Brazil’s environment.

Indigenous communities

The natural forests of Brazil comprising of Roosevelt, Serra Morena, Aripuana and Aripuana Park reserves is also home to the indigenous communities – Cinta-Larga. According to last census statistics, Brazil’s indigenous group, which once counted for more than 5,000 people has been reduced to a sheer 1,758. In 2004, diamond mining in the region has caused a recorded 29 deaths.

Reginaldo Trinadade, state prosecutor in charge of defending Cinta-Larga says “In March this year, there were no less than 500 armed miners who told the Cinta-Larga that they would not leave the indigenous land.”

Though in May, indigenous community ordered complete suspension of mining activities in the region, armed miners retook the area in July and continued to extract diamonds. Diamond miners have brought plethora of problems including drugs, prostitution etc. for Brazil’s indigenous people, who are in general against mining on their lands. However, they seem unable to confront and fight the diamond miners. The growing grave situation in Brazil has been summarized by Reginaldo

“The Cinta-Larga people are on the brink of genocide, if not physically, than at least ethnically and culturally.”
Diamond Smuggling

Though Brazil produces very insignificant amount of reported diamond mining, a huge amount of diamonds from Brazil are being smuggled through Venezuela, Guyana or other South American countries and continue their journey onwards to international markets in New York, Tel Aviv or London. Since Venezuela is a member of Kimberley Process, smuggling diamonds from Brazil’s indigenous reserves to Venezuela and passing them of as KP certified diamonds forges the real origin of those diamonds. Besides, as noted by Venezuela-based British journalist Girish Gupta, an illicit network of diamond smuggling originates in Venezuela also.