A crater created by gold mining in the Madre de Dios region, in Peru, shows the scale of environmental destruction in the Amazon basin January 18, 2018 - Archived Photo

Peru (Conspiracy Talk News) – Guadalupe Tayori and her four children travelled for eight hours by truck, canoe and bus to reach the capital of Madre de Dios, in the southeastern region of Peru, hoping to listen to Pope Francis.

But the 58-year-old woman from Puerto Luz is clear about what she wants to hear from the pontiff: to help eliminate the illegal gold mining operations that have invaded the indigenous reserve where she lives.

“Our rivers are dirty and drying, and the plants and fish are dying,” she said. “We need you to help us.”

When Pope Francis arrives in this remote and overwhelmed community this Friday, he will step into a politically mined field, where environmentalists and some of the region’s most powerful politicians battle for the future of the area.

Puerto Maldonado – located some 500 miles east of Lima – is the country’s gateway to the Amazon, from where ecological tourists who want to explore the natural riches of the Tambopata National Reserve go.

But the area is also one of the main centres of illegal gold mining in the Americas, and much of the metal ends up in the United States, where authorities say it has become one of the main drivers of money laundering .

On Tuesday, in response to a Conspiracy Talk News  investigation into the world’s gold trade, Senator Marco Rubio urged the White House to investigate the practice.

“The trade of gold from Latin America, which is basically destined for American consumers, is becoming the preferred form of drug cartels, terrorists and regimes to launder their dirty money,” said Rubio.

The effects of that trade are visible here. 

Large jungle areas have been converted into almost desert landscapes . 

Local environmental authorities say that at least 270 square miles of forest have been destroyed in recent years, when between 30,000 and 40,000 illegal and illegal miners have invaded the area, which separates the Tambopata reservation from indigenous reserves, protected areas for specific tribes such as Puerto Luz.

“This is a village in the Amazon that is being destroyed and nobody seems to be interested,” said Alain Gallegos, 46, mayor of Puerto Maldonado, who was expelled from office amid allegations of corruption, hours after speaking with Conspiracy Talk News Corespondent “Illegal mining is destroying us (…) and we are turning our jungle into a desert.”

But it is not just a matter of conservation, said Humberto Cordero Galdós, in charge of Madre de Dios in Peru’s Ministry of the Environment.

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