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Story Publication logo April 10, 2010

Gold, Guns and Garimpeiros


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As jittery investors have sought safe-haven investments in gold during the recession, the metal's...

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Gold is always a good business. It never goes bankrupt or needs a bail-out. Gold is the go-to investment when financial markets suffer. For the last few years, as "Western" Markets have sank, gold prices, predictably, have soared, reaching record high values. Consequently, gold mining increases.

In France, Brazilians make their way illegally into French Guiana, crossing rivers nightly into Europe's Amazon, to mine for gold. French Gendarme battle illegal Brazilian miners (garimpeiros) daily. Patrolling rivers, aerial surveillance and foot patrols through the dense Amazon forest, the Gendarme try to mitigate the environmental damage done to Europe's only rainforest. Meanwhile, Brazilian garimpeiros, an estimated 30,000, live clandestinely throughout the jungle in an archipelago of mining camps and mines, both large and small. Miners bring materials, petrol, chicken, engine parts, 4-wheeler ATVs, even earth-moving tractors and trucks, up rivers and small creeks in wooden canoes. Everything in the jungle is paid with gold, a plate of rice and beans, a cold beer, a prostitute.






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