Brazilian Court Rules for Mura People Against Potássio do Brasil | Amazon Watch
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Brazilian Court Rules in Favor of Mura People Against Mining Company Potássio do Brasil

Potássio do Brasil fined and forced to remove signs from Mura Indigenous village

May 11, 2023 | Ana Carolina Alfinito, Camila Rossi, and Gabriela Sarmet | Eye on the Amazon

Credit: Camila Rossi / Amazon Watch

Potássio do Brasil, the Brazilian subsidiary of Canadian mining company Brazil Potash, exposed in the report Complicity in Destruction III, was fined US$ 20,000 (BR$ 100,000) by a Brazilian federal court for refusing to remove identification signs from the Soares village, home to the Mura Indigenous people, in Autazes, Amazonas. The contested signs state that the area belongs to Potássio do Brasil when it is in fact an Indigenous land, and therefore no mining can occur on it. The company will also be fined US$ 10,000 (BR$ 50,000) per day in case of non-compliance. 

This is a significant step toward accountability for the community and the movement to secure Indigenous territories free of mining. These victories are due to the grassroots organizing by the Mura and international pressure supported by the joint research led by the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous People (APIB) and Amazon Watch through our Complicity in Destruction series

Potássio do Brasil’s massive project, which involves the extraction and processing of potassium in Autazes and transportation via rivers and roads, raises concerns among environmentalists. Potassium is one of the essential minerals for the fertilizer industry, widely used to enhance agricultural productivity. The exploration takes place in an ecologically diverse and sensitive region. Critics argue that the mine, like others in the Amazon, could lead to deforestation and river contamination, threatening the survival of the Mura people, who depend on hunting, fishing, and subsistence farming.

In February 2023, the Mura tried to remove the signs installed by Potássio do Brasil in the Soares village but were stopped by the Autazes police, which acted in response to the company’s request. The police also made threats. The fine imposed by the Brazilian federal court relates not only to the signs but also to the company’s abusive conduct against the Mura through the local police and for violating their territory. 

Mura leaders meet with the president of Brazil’s National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), Joenia Wapichana.

In March, with the support of Amazon Watch, Mura leaders traveled to Brasília to meet with the president of Brazil’s National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), Joenia Wapichana, who stated that the institution will resume stalled demarcation processes involving land titling and formal government recognition of Indigenous territories. Wapichana said: “We are committed to reviewing the stalled demarcation processes and FUNAI’s position in judicial decisions. Under Lula’s government, FUNAI returns to prioritizing the defense of Indigenous rights”.

The Mura seek to resolve the land demarcation standstill in which they find themselves. The demarcation of the Soares village is urgently needed to prevent mining operations for potassium extraction on their territory. In the last week of March, FUNAI visited the village and collected information to better inform the communities about the demarcation process.

Potássio do Brasil is an example of how mining companies violate Indigenous rights even before their operations begin. Their actions intentionally increase pressure and conflict in local communities.

Thanks to Amazon Watch supporters, we were able to assist the Mura people in their trip to Brasília to meet with FUNAI, providing logistical support, technical preparation, and funding for the trip, which aimed to demand that FUNAI resume the demarcation of their lands.

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