Garimpieros Fight to Use Their Shovels in Angola

The WSJ headline had “Blood Diamonds” in it, and today I learned about Angola’s flourishing and persecuted garimpeiros. These are the legions of poor men who make a living using a screen and a shovel to wash gravel in shallow mines, for diamonds.  Unlike in South Africa where mines go down miles into the ground, here, the reserves are alluvial, scattered across the countryside.

More than a million people make their living like this around the world, and tens of thousands of them are in Angola. Now there are hundreds of fancy looking storefronts in the dilapidated town of Cafunfo offering big money for loose diamonds.  Because of the lack of agriculture or jobs, and mostly because the country has yet to really be fully explored, or mined, hopes are up and people continue to tear apart the red earth.

Now the military goes out and tries to catch anyone with mining tools and confiscate them. But they mistake farm tools for mining ones. And at the storie”s end, they told about how soldiers came across a group of garimpieros and found them with a water pump. They took it, then negotiated a fine of $54 plus a split of any diamonds they plucked out of that hole.