M & Ms – Miners and Mercury

Word Count: 442 Most miners of the Amazon lead a very pollutedway of life.

They pollute the environment they live inand they pollute themselves. The, “garimpeiros” asthe miners are called in Brazil are independentfarmers of the gold that flows beneath the rivers ofthe Amazon rain-forest. Their daily routine of earlymornings, long hard days, and late nights drinkingand taking cocaine contribute to their way of life.Their only goal in life is to drill for the gold dustwhich seems to collect at the bottoms of waterfallsthen use the profits for illegal self indulgences likecocaine. To extract this gold dust they mustcombine mercury with the dust, and because of themercurys chemical make-up it is able to extract thegold from the useless rock and debris.

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The mercury,however, isnt the cleanest element for theenvironment. Many garimpeiros carelessly use themercury then dump it into the rivers polluting thewater and the food. Also, the dust from the mercurygets inhaled and eating by the miners, contributingto their polluted way of life. All day dragas, whichare boats used for mining the bottom of rivers, arepulled to locations where gold is thought to befound, moving and polluting.

Then there is thecommon drug use among these farmers. The authoreven quotes a man named Lincoln, an owner of adraga, saying, “not that I object to cocaine. Its noworse than anything else, as far as I know, andaddicts make good workers.” To sum thegarimpeiros way of life, they live a life of drinkingand drugs, women and murder. So the polluted wayof life is obvious, men poison the waters and thefood and then ultimately themselves, with the illegalactivities of the mining trade in Brazil. Although most do not realize their way of life andits defects, the struggling people of the Brazillianmining trade have special situations and greataspirations.

Most men are poor and the temptationto work as a garimpeiros is great. Their isnt muchwork other then that of an independent miner. Theirline of work has what the author describes as a,”free-spirited, picaresque hero.

” Most men aspireto inevitably find that big strike thats just around thecorner, then get out and raise a decent life,however, this isnt the typical case, most do not,”get-out.” Now, although this seems really negative,the positive aspect of the garimpo way of life keepsyoung men out of social trouble and keeps thedragas moving and operating. The garimpeiros wayof life should not be subject to the Americanstandard way of living, these people do what theyare brought up to do and act like the culture acts.

Tosimplify the miners way of life is to quote a mannamed Ludwig that the author interviewed, “Its aCatch 22 situation,” Damned if you do, Damned ifyou dont.