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A Gold Rush in Peru: Impact on the Amazon

“La Pampa” in Peru, once a part of the lush rainforest, is now a barren wasteland under the control of military, even though police weren’t sure about entering this area in the past.

More than 15 years ago, organized crime pinpointed this area because of the underground treasure that exists there, flecks of gold scattered throughout the area. Therefore, a gold rush began.

Noone could’ve predicted what was going to happen next, “La Pampa” and its surroundings were devastated by the illegal logging and mining. The toxic chemicals that are necessary to separate the soil from the gold affected the Madre de Dios river’s flux. Therefore, many ponds of contaminated water remain because of this.

Contaminated ponds with washed toxic chemicals permeate in the Amazon's soil, making it useless for future vegetation's growth.
Contaminated ponds with washed toxic chemicals permeate in the Amazon’s soil, making it useless for future vegetation’s growth.

Living in La Pampa

La Pampa was recognizable for its precary establishment. Many wooden houses that hosted the miners and their owners. Brothels and bars were all around the small town. It’s impressive to think that the government estimated at least 20k inhabitants at the same time in this place.

It was in 2019’s February that the authorities decided the damages should be dealt with for good under an operation called “Mercury”. A mixed group of policemen and military forces were sent to La Pampa to drive out all the illegal mining operations.

However, the story of La Pampa and the gold rush in Peru doesn’t end here.

The year that these events took place was the year when covid’s aparition turned the world upside-down. Also, it’s no secret that one of the countries that had one of the worst times during this catastrophe, was Peru.

The fact that the state crumbled because of the pandemic didn’t help the efforts that were done earlier that year to combat the illegal activity in the southeastern zone of the country. However, the Mercury Operation was successful.

Subsequently, many of these criminals decided to head even more into the rainforest, around this time the gold reached a high value, promoting the attitude that these criminal organizations in order to increase their product for various ends, such as drug money laundering or guns trafficking

A waterbomb, its use is to pump out the water in order to retain the gold from the rest of the minerals.

International Operation

According to USA miltary authorities, the groups of people that are behind these attempts against nature are not exclusively Peruvian but Venezuelans, Colombians and Brazilians. Making this an international interest for certain mafias, like the so-called “Red Command”.

Also, it’s estimated that these criminals make a profit of $300 billion each year, their illegal activity is well planned and due to the complications that exploring the Amazon’s rainforest imply, it’s almost impossible for authorities to trace their hideouts.

The extracted gold goes on a large trip once the separation from the soil minerals finalizes. Many criminal groups pass the gold from border to border or even by private jets.

Switzerland (the biggest gold refiner in the world) received a considerable amount of this gold according to speculation . Also, another part of the gold rush in Peru may end in the United States as part of other golden bars, making this illegal mineral untraceable.

Recovering the Amazon

Many of the rainforest‘s inhabitants relied on mercury mining to make a living. However, new shifts have been taking place to prevent the damage from expanding.

Such is the case with many of these communities with a intent to make their sustent with the tourism.

The funding for these projects in some cases might’ve been from the illegal mining, however, organizations like CINCIA. Many techniques develop to preserve the biodiversity in this and many more zones.

Find out more about the Amazon by living your own adventure! Peru Amazon Trips is a renowned tour operator that ensures you a wonderful time in the Peruvian Amazon.

Don’t hesitate and live the adventure on your own! Contact us.

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