2016 / Editorial / Environmental

Illegal mining in the Amazon jungle

  • Photographer
    Sebastian Castañeda

Destruction of the Peruvian Amazon due to of Illegal Mining, About 60 thousand hectares are destroyed by illegal extraction of gold in the area called La Pampa in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. In Madre de Dios, the alluvial gold mining has already devastated more than 60,000 hectares of forest, without standing dead trees, ponds and wetlands destroyed. Furthermore, the large earthmoving alter drainage systems and produces losses of habitat for countless species. On the other hand, to extract and concentrate the gold processes and inputs that produce toxic wastes (eg., Containing cyanide or mercury) that pollute the air, soil and water are used. Environmental effects can be corrected in the long term, but in many cases are irreparable. The health of the population is especially affected by absorption into the body of mercury and other heavy metals such as lead and arsenic, that illegal miners use in their activity. The mercury also contaminates water sources (rivers, lakes and lagoons), contaminating the fish that are the staple food in the Amazonian populations. Illegal mining creates child exploitation, alcoholism, prostitution, lack of education, inadequate occupation, insecurity, etc. In the mining area of Huepetuhe, Pukiri and Delta, it is estimated that 400 pubescent and adolescents are sexually exploited in bars, called locally "prostibares".

Photojournalist since 2002. I worked as a photojournalist at El Comercio until 2014. The main assignments are the wars in Iraq and Syria, elections in Venezuela and the funeral of Hugo Chávez in 2013, earthquakes in Chile in 2010 and Ecuador in 2016, voodoo ceremonies in Haiti, Occupy Wall Street in New York, social and political reporting in Cuba, the Rohingya crisis. Special coverages in Peru on illegal mining in the Amazon, Shining Path in Peru, earthquake in Peru in 2007, Qoyllur Riti, Takanakuy, Shamans and the pilgrimage of the Captive.