2020-2023 Rio Blanco Community

The current situation in Rio Blanco (RB) is not favorable. Miners have exploited the community before us – Galeras – where we have our first plot of land for our traditional way of life. As a result, everything around our plot has been mined, except our land. However, there’s hope that seeds on the land will sprout and the jungle will regrow.

The attached video shows from above what the forest looks like before mining and what the mined area looks like, which is dangerously close to our community’s lands. The miners moved from the Galeras community to the Rio Blanco community river. One side belongs to RB, where they officially cannot mine. But on the other side, there are still private landowners who do not belong to the RB community, and mining is ongoing there. Now, they are also mining opposite on RB’s 1.5-hectare land, given that the current RB president was preparing documentation to officially permit the mining. However, there’s a risk that once permission is granted, it will set off a cascade, and lands will begin to be sold off for mining. Agu quickly responded by presenting the RB community with an official document stating there’s a legal document signed by a previous president (a new one is elected every 5 years) that the community will not sell lands for mining. It was also decided that if the RB community breaches the agreement, they will face legal action. The RB community held a 5-hour consultation and eventually agreed not to sell the land to the miners because they would face significant issues. They wanted to sell the land; there might have been a bribe to the community president, but they fear legal processes. The reason RB wants to sell the land to miners is that they need money. They currently need 2,000 USD to reclaim a 1,000-hectare land, which was fraudulently sold and thousands of people settled there. To date, over 100 hectares of land have been cleared. They won a legal battle (with financial aid from a collection in the Czech Republic), where a single document, a decision about a state reserve which provided them state subsidies, saved them. The condition was that trees shouldn’t decrease, but the state only responded to the deforestation by reducing their subsidy. The people have not yet moved, and unfortunately, they continue to cut down the forest. The RB community wanted to negotiate peacefully, allowing the settlers to become part of the RB community without further deforestation. Unfortunately, the settlers did not accept the offer, continually increased their demands, and RB decided they want the state’s help in evicting them. Due to a change in the country’s presidency, many conditions also changed, and state officials told them that if they pay 2,000 USD for the transportation and food of the military, they will come and take action. It’s unclear if this action will be direct eviction or a step leading to eviction, but that’s why RB now wants to sell the 1.5 hectares by the river – to fund the rescue/eviction of the original land from settlers.

Below you can view current photos of how mining is drastically altering the landscape.

Thank you to everyone who wishes to contribute to saving our homes and the Amazon rainforest.