The True Cost of Diamond Mining - Human Lives

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When most people think of the term “blood diamonds,” they often associate it with conflict diamonds coming from Africa. The truth of the matter is that these conflict diamonds can come from anywhere in the world. It’s no mystery that diamond mining harms lives and takes away human liberties. The community of Cinta Larga resides in the Roosevelt Indigenous Area between Rondonia and Mato Grosso, an area containing what may be the world’s richest diamond deposit.

Although mining is illegal under Brazilian law, illegal excavations have carried out in this indigenous area since 1999. Not only is the environment being harmed through deforestation and mining, but the traditional ways of the Cinta Larga are being threatened. It is estimated that one million carats of diamonds, worth more than $200 million, could be illegally excavated each year.

Historically, this indigenous area was abundant in rubber before diamonds were discovered and since many lives have been lost in an effort to take the land’s resources. Once numbered at more than 5,000 people, the Cinta Larga was noted to only have a population of 1,758 in 2012. One infamous incident in 1963 involved a rubber plantation owner ordering dynamite to be dropped from a small plane onto the Cinta Larga villagers. Later known as the Massacre of the 11th Parallel, the community was completely wiped out.

Although the Cinta Larga receives some government aid, it is not enough. In order to survive, this indigenous community has no choice but to take part in diamond mining and trafficking. As a result, this region will continuously lie on the brink of war over their soil. Diamonds are a currency, so with it comes conflict, drugs, disease, and pollution. This is just one of the countless examples of the dangers diamond mining has on humanity. While it can be difficult to hear these stories, the only way to get the message across is to speak up and put a spotlight on reality.

Photo credit: Fellipe Abreu

Photo Credit: Fellipe Abreu