When Mauricio Yekuana was 10 years old, his grandfather was murdered by illegal gold miners after he refused to accept them intruding on his lands. Some years later, his uncle was shot to death whilst travelling down one of the branches of the Amazon river. His cousin survived only by hiding in the bottom of their canoe… wounded from a gunshot to the shoulder he hid there for days, terrified to come out.
Mauricio is now the treasurer of the Yanomami Association, Hutukara, which led the international campaign for the protection of the Yanomami land after an influx of illegal miners in the 1980s decimated the tribe. The government finally recognized the Yanomami land as an indigenous territory in 1992, but illegal mining continues today.