i very much enjoyed the piece. I have recently returned to the U.S. to take a job after living in Brasilia, Brasil for the last five years. I worked for an international development organization and kept up with all the developments that occurred there in the Amazon with the garimipeiros and mineiros.
I very much miss the country and the people and found your treatment of the incident insightful and well-covered from all interested angles -- except maybe from the government's position. It is truly a complicated and sensitive situation and I continue to follow it. Great and realistic-feel reporting. Mariana did a super job developing rapport with those interviewed.
I very much enjoyed this piece, it was covered with noticeable attention to ensuring that all angles of the story are tied together will the opinions and insights of those in Brazil who coincide with the differing points of view. If mining is currently illegal in Brazil, why make it legal now? If the Cinta Larga who have been held in custody are to be let free due to their lack of understanding of Brazilian law, they should be given sole permission to mine their lands on the reservation for the same reason. However, the government must step in and crack down on those who seek to generate profits through the illegal mining of the reservation in order to prevent any further conflicts between renegade miners and the Cinta Larga. The resolution to this situation will most likely not please all who have become involved with these "Jewels of the Amazon" but much more time for deliberation must be given before a final decision is made.
I'm genuinely saddened by the plight of the Cinta Larga and all the indigenous tribes of Brazil. It all smacks much too much of our ignoble history with the noble tribes who once roamed American soil. I too wish that hands of time could be turned back and the Cinta Larga left undiscovered but it cannot be so.
The only interference the government should offer in their sovereign land is supply of professional services: psychologists, sociologists, medical staff, engineers, gemologists, accountants, marketers, a couple of entrepreneurial business people --to assist them in learning how to manage not only the natural resources they possess but how to cope with the 21st century world into which they have most regrettably collided.
As for the murders I find it odd that no one has mentioned the repeated rapes of their children, the hundreds who were butchered, the savagery that they endured at the hands of the miners. And further that they had captured the miners and delivered them to the police only to find them back tormenting them the following day and, no doubt, emboldened by the speed & ease of they had recovered their freedom.
What were they to do? What would you have done??
I am a widow with a 15 year old daughter and, though I consider myself a pacifist, I know I would have been with them myself protecting my family.
They are a strong people, courageous and ethical~thanks to technology the eyes of the world will witness the outcome. Perhaps they have a chance. I wish them well.
Sherwood Park, Alberta
I thought it was great but the slaughtering of the cow was a little disturbing even though it's part of their culture.
The fact that people are horrified at the act of killing a cow shows just how out of touch some people are. This cow is part of the tribe's livelihood. The act of killing it means that they get to eat a decent meal. They are celebrating life through death.
Remember, this tribe was only first contacted in the 1960's. We all descend from this "hunter gatherer" existence. You should feel fortunate to have been granted such a view into our past. In the end, I fear for this tribe, as they will certainly be wiped off the map. If their land had no value, they would have been left alone. Now, their culture and all they hold dear will be corrupted by greed and capitalism. Sad.
San Francisco, CA
It's sad to read of another form of encroachment on the Amazon rainforests. This "mining" will no doubt complete the wanton destruction of our earth's environment. Will it ever end? Will the greed of nations bring our "livable" world to a justified end? I think it will, because corporations and populations will never give up the raping of our environment until we all drop over dead from suffocation and/or starvation and mother earth gets its revenge. I say boycott all jewelry until that industry becomes a responsible member of the world.
St. Louis, MO
Brazil ought really to consider following the lead of other industrialized nations. Enable and empower the Indians to run their own businesses. That could satisfy the ravenous appetite of the world for diamonds and the Indians would have to sell these diamonds to someone. They would have an added incentive to protect the fragile enviornment as it is their home.
Eugenio de Castro
I am a Brazilian living abroad. This piece is very insightful and as the comment from New York highlighted, it is unfortunate that this piece comes to the surface only in the aftermath of illegal miners' murders, once again spotlighting negatively and marginalizing "the Amazon Indians." The land is theirs, has always been and if anyone outside their culture is disturbed by the killing of the cow in the video they should take a hike. In their culture it is a way of celebrating a deal or pact, and who are we to judge their ways? It is very sad that not one educational piece has been done to highlight and celebrate the way of the native people of the Amazon and encourage the preservation and the respect they uphold for the great forest we have in Brazil. I am sure there are many multinational companies lining up and smiling at the chance to get their hands on the diamond riches waiting to be exploited. Nobody has any interest in the best for the indians, and the only reason some are pretending to care and pay some attention to this specific tribe is because of their diamonds. It is utterly repulsive to me seeing how all of a sudden national and foreign companies alike are trying to create a "legal" channel out of thin air to steal once again from the very people to whom we owe our country. We Brazilians at home and abroad should stand up for our natives and help protect our resources and culture. We already have a long colonialist history of foreign exploitation and must not allow a new recycled form of the same by modern and industrialized nations of the so called first world.
San Francisco, CA
Terrific, incisive reporting. I particularly enjoyed the Amazon Journal.
The Indians warned the miners not to penetrate their lands. When the miners kept coming back even secretly, the Indians didn't have any power to protect their land so they killed them. Of course this is an awful event. Then the question rises what else could they do. The land of Indians is often invaded and terrorized by Westerns seeking treasures. Now the tribes face a major big brother - the government and the Western companies. Their lives and their culture are under major threat. On the other hand the Indians also want things from the white man's culture like cars, medicine, food, and the knowledge of mining. A peaceful regulation could do something for both parties. [It must be done] carefully because diamonds and thus money, territory and power are basic ingredients for conflicts. The Indians should also learn and understand about the laws of a country - that they can't go killing who they want without facing charges.
I felt this video was very insightful from a wide variety of perspectives. Watching this film gave me a small glimpse of what it must have been like for the Indians who once lived throughout South, Central, and North America, and were exploited for Gold and Silver ... except of course, it seems the Indians in Brazil currently have more of the control, where historically they were eventually simply destroyed.
I would like to comment on the two statements I read about ''the punctured cow.." First of all, lets hope you are both vegetarian. Second of all, I am sure they use every part of the cow they killed, and they celebrate it, for it is food they will all share amongst one another. This is their culture, and for you to say 'they have no respect for life,' or 'forget the idea of a noble indigenous man,' would suggest ignorance, and a lack of willingness to understand other cultures. Through fear and lack of understandingof indigenous cultures the white man continues not to preserve them, nor their land.
I find the information extremely interesting from a sociological, ecological and economical standpoint. Sociologically, this indigenous group had been living a life as they always had since the beginning of their time and were oblivious to the outside world. Had it not been for interested anthropologists, linguists and or scientists this group may never have been "discovered," thus maintaining their anonymity and preserving a healthy, happy self sufficient human group. Is this idealistic thinking? Maybe so but prior to the thrust of global greed in the name of capitalism, freedom and democracy it sufficed well enough for us all. Now this group suffers the same fatalistic cancers we all face in a societies based on me-isms and greed.
Ecologically, this group knew how to use the land and its resources to feed, protect and shelter them. They knew what roots, barks and plants could be used for medical purposes and wellness. The unique thing is that they did not over use or abuse these resources to live their life but knew the balance between nature and threat to human needs. Now with the march of greed the entire Amazon ecosystem stands to be obliterated because "it" belongs to "us." There are some things in this world that should transcend selfish needs of a few and be put aside for the greater aspect of mankind. One of those is the delicate balance the rain forest provides for the world.
Economically, who stands to win in this situation? Hopefully everyone! Who will most likely win this windfall? Big business. Their lust for the almighty dollar will overcome their ability to rationally look at the impact on the people who inhabit the area or the ecological impact. But to be honest, even the United States does not take seriously the impact of progress on its natural resources. Why should everyone else not have the same opportunity to take advantage of the resources within their borders, regardless of impact.
Thanks for the story, with access to the interviews and resources. Count on the fact that I'll be back for more.
No government controls, period! The use of Indian lands should be managed by the Indians who own it. If these tribes then negotiate these leases poorly and are subsequently swindled, such is life. If they become wealthy, better yet. Only government support that empowers instead of enslaves.
Excellent story. Excellent reporting. What real chance do the indigenous Indians have? The diamond mining corporations will eventually take it all over. The government will condone it because the corporations are the government.
It hurts to know that the Indigenous people of the Amazon have been living this way for possibly millions of years, only to have their entire way of life destoyed by interacting with whites for a few years. I write this from the 20th floor of a downtown Chicago office building, and looking down, I am not certain that our way of life is better than that of the people of the Amazon. They trampled over dimaonds for centuries without a care. Now they kill for them. It reminds me of the tragedies I've read about in the African diamond mines. Poor Indigenous Africans killing and dying for the white man's trinkets. What makes it more sad, is the fact that their African-American couterparts place such an exagerated value on "BLING," and perpetuates the death of their own people. If only Columbus would have died at birth, the earth would be a better place.
St. Cloud, MN
As others have mentioned, the brutalistic ritual of killing the cow was horrifying. Respect for nature, or lack of it, is practiced by the entire human race. Compassion for the unprotected should apply to all living things.
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Yes we have Indians living on the margins. Yes we have the miner's association selling the stones at a bad price for the interim and thinking that they have all the rights. And yes, we have the international market making a lot of money. it seems like the government still doesn't want to integrate things.
The Indians have to learn how to mine to be a part of it and the consumers must be better educated and not to feel that indirectly they're contributing to the black market.
We have the same problems about other treasures here in Brazil and it isn't because of this that Indians or white men have more rights than others. It doesn't work like that. It's Brazilian land and a matter of capitalism and democracy.
New York, NY
Very interesting. But Indigenous people still get a bad rap even with documentaries like this because their lives are seen through the prism of another culture. Why is it that the only time they get airtime is when there is violence and a much valued commodity in the picture? How about doing a piece on Vincent Carelli and the Indigenous people who make their own videos to preserve their cultural heritage and educate Brazilians who still hold fast to stereotypical views of Indigenous people. Then you would be making breakthrough shows that educated people and promoted understanding and awareness.
Rohnert Park, CA
I found this piece extremely disturbing. The final outcome of this civil warring is going to have an awful impact on the already compromised Amazon jungle and the wildlife existence. Many more species of wildlife will become extinct.
It's no wonder why history repeats itself. How can one believe in goverment when they make and break all rights for their own benefit? No wonder there is a large part of society that still thinks rules were made to be broken! I truly am disgusted that the only reason people want to come to their land is for diamonds. Where were they to help out the lands or people the rest of the time? Goverment did not find it. It is not their home, their land or their diamonds. The goverment for once should not let greed make their decisions. How far has any country really gotten with the goverment making decisions out of greed? The goverment is not there for the people in this case; they should not even be considering letting large corperations mine land that does not belong to them.
The horrific scene of the Cinta Larga killing that tethered bovine made me sick. The satisfaction and joy that it obviously brought the ones shooting their arrows into this defenseless animal made me realize that mankind is truly depraved. Forget the idea of the noble indigenous man. If killing a poor beast in this manner can bring a glint to the killer's eye, it shouldn't be a surprise that he is capable of doing the things covered in the first part of your program in Iraq.
San Diego, CA
If the indigenous Indians are not subject to the same laws as the "whites" how can they be equals? As long as the Brazilian government treats the Indians as animials, then how can anyone expect them to become part of the society.
Why not make a law that only the Indians can control diamond sales? Just like the U.S. Indians control gaming; that will encourage whites to intermarry to get control of the wealth and blur the lines beween races and thus create a better future for everyone.
What happened to this show? I saw an advertisement for it, but it was never on Oregon Public Broadcasting? They had "Saddam's Road to Hell" on instead. Did they decide not to air it because it would hurt the diamond industry?
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
"Jewel of the Amazon" was the second story in the broadcast following "Saddam's Road to Hell." You'll be able to watch the Brazil story online January 31 when we post the video to both stories on the Web site.
Los Angeles, CA
The miners who invaded the tribal Indian land obviously knew the risks involved as they invaded the lands and stole from the Indians in secret. Any sovereign country would have reacted in like. The Indians should control the diamond wealth with help from government regulation, just like in the States here with government regulations of tribal Indian casinos.
The scene of the cow being puntured by spears and the men laughing was horrifying. They tortured that animal to death in a most painful fashion. Where is their respect for life?
I found the story fascinating and yet another example of the destruction of the rainforests. However, why the continuous cut back shots to the reporter? Was she the story?
Outstanding journalistic reporting. Frontline should stay with this story and report how things progress.
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