The genocide of the Yanomami began in the early 70's, when the first invasions of the Indian territory by miners were registered. Since then, about 2,000 Indians were killed. The Brazilian government allowed this genocide to happen, as shown by the data listed below:
1974: the Perimetral Norte highway, a road cutting the Yanomami territory, begins to be built. The area is invaded by hundreds of workermen ; in the three-year period that followed, influenza, measles, and tuberculosis claim the lives of over 80 Indians. Soon after that, the results of the Radambrasil Project, which surveyed the mineral potential of the Amazonian soil, are published. The survey indicates the existence of large quantities of uranium, gold, diamonds, and tin ore in the Yanomami area.
1975: about 500 miners invade the Surucucus mountain range, an Indian land, looking for tin ore. The governor of the State of Roraima, Ramos Pereira, supports the invasion and says that "a rich area cannot permit itself the luxury of preserving half a dozen Indian tribes hindering the development."
1978: FUNAI (National Indian Foundation) signs a covenant with mining company Vale do Rio Doce for the exploitation of tin ore in Yanomami lands. The covenant is suspended.
1979: the appointed governor of Roraima, Ottomar de Souza Pinto, announces as he is sworn into office that the top priority of his administration would be to resume the mining for tin ore.
1980: the minister for Mines and Energy, Ce'sar Cals, issues licenses authorizing two mining companies to carry out research on titanium deposits in Yanomami lands. A group of miners is detected inside Yanomami lands located in Amazonia.
1981: about 2,000 miners invade the area again, this time looking for gold. Governor Ottomar Pinto insists that the formal prohibition to carry out mining activities in these lands should be lifted. In November, eighteen Yanomami Indians die of measles in Amazonia.
1982: five Yanomami are murdered by miners in a region near the Catrimani and Apiau' rivers. More and more, outbreaks of diseases area registered among the Indians.
1983: FUNAI signs with Codesaima, a company operated by the government of Raraima, a covenant for carrying out research and mining for ores in the Indian area.
1984: Mozarildo Cavalcanti, federal deputy for Raraima, presents a bill to the Chamber of Deputies proposing that mining for tin ore should be permitted in part of the area. An Yanomami is shot on the back by a miner at the Catrimani river.
1985: 44 miners headed by businessman Jose' Altino Machado invade Surucucus and subdue at gunpoint four army soldiers and a sargeant who were guarding the area. They are expelled by Army, Federal Police, and Military Police troops. After being arrested, Altino Machado says he would repeat the operation. Soon after that, miners invade the northeast region of the territory. Deputy Mozarildo Cavalcanti presents a bill to the Chamber of Deputies providing for the exploitation of tin ore in Yanomami lands by authorization of the Executive Branch.
1986: Altino Machado deposes before the Chamber of Deputies and says he will fight for the miners to remain in the area.
1987: the Brazilian government launches a campaign affirming that the demarcation of the Yanomami lands is a pretext for the Indians to establish an independent state. The propaganda is an attempt to justify the implementation of the Calha Norte Project. The military commander of the Amazonian Region, general Antenor Santa Cruz, says that the presence of miners in the Indian area "plays a strategic role in the occupation of the national territory." Four Yanomami of the Paapiu' area are clubbed, stabbed, and shot to death by miners.
1988: miners kill nine Yanomami. The ex-president of Funai, Romero Juca' takes office as governor of Roraima and says he will ensure the security of the 20 thousand miners who invaded the Indian area. The government cuts the Yanomami territory into 19 discontinuous areas, one national park and two national forests, leaving 76% of the traditional Yanomami territory out of the demarcation. Four Indians are murdered by the invaders the following year.
1990: miners kill two Indians. The president of the Republic, Jose' Sarney, creates the Araricoera and Catrimani-Couto Magalha~es mining reservations inside Indian lands. The extermination of 15% of the Yanomami population, about 2 thousand Indians, in the two previous years because of diseases brought by the miners is denounced.
1991: the reinvasion grows. FUNAI mentions 1 thousand miners. Ottomar de Souza Pinto takes office as the new governor of Roraima, and continues to support the invasion.
1992: about 2 thousand miners invade the area again. At least 150 Yanomami die of diseases. An Indian is murdered.
1993: in August, FUNAI denounces the massacre of 73 Yanomami.
Brasi'lia, August 27, 1993
CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council