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Indigenous peoples reject imposed Caura National Park in Venezuela

Venezuela: The indigenous peoples of the Caura River in South Venezuela, the Ye’kwana and Sanema, through their organisation Kuyuhani have rejected the imposition of a national park on their lands. The protected area which was announced in the Official Gazette in March 2017 embraces the whole of the Caura Basin, which is one of the largest areas of relatively pristine forests left in the Orinoco watershed.

Venezuela: mining policy threatens indigenous lands

Venezuela mainly features in the international news in reports of the country’s economic meltdown and of the increasingly repressive measures taken by the President, Nicolas Maduro, to cling on to power despite the opposition winning a majority in the Congress. The obverse of these realities gets less attention. In an effort to boost the flagging economy and garner support from the impoverished rural poor, last year the government announced new measures to open up to mining a huge swathe of the south of the country, referred to as the Arco Minero Orinoco.  

Venezuela: armed assaults on Yabarana indigenous peoples by illegal miners

Alarming reports have emerged of illegal miners harassing the lives of Piaroa, Yabarana and Hiwi indigenous peoples in the Manapiare valley in the Venezuelan Amazon. The latest report details how illegal miners attacked and seriously wounded the Yabarana leader, Benjamin Perez, who leads the organisation, OIYAPAM, and then burned down his farm.

Venezuela: Ye’kwana and Sanema of the Caura have again appealed to the Government to halt abuse of their rights by the armed forces

A delegation of indigenous representatives presented a petition to the Venezuela Government’s Ministry of Public Affairs to denounce the continuing of abuse of their rights by the armed forces who have been actively involved in illegal gold-mining on the indigenous peoples’ lands. They note that the commander of the local brigade, who along with several other members of his unit burned down two Ye’kwana houses in February and had then been detained by the Ye’kwana before being handed over to the authorities [who promised to investigate], remains in command of his brigade.

Venezuela: indigenous peoples appeals to President to halt ‘neo-slavery’ in illegal mines in Caura

The Ye’kuana and Sanema indigenous peoples of the Caura River in Estado Bolivar have again appealed to President Maduro of Venezuela, to halt the sub-human conditions to which they are being subjected in the illegal mines on the river. They claim there are now some 3,000 illegal miners operating in the Yuruani river an affluent of the Caura above the high waterfall of Salto Para, which hitherto had kept the headwaters of the river system among the best conserved in the whole Orinoco basin.

Venezuela: Indigenous peoples of the Caura demand their constitutionally guaranteed territorial rights

Invoking their right to self-determination, the Ye’kwana and Sanema peoples of the Caura River in the State of Guayana have issued a statement demanding recognition of their territorial rights. Pointing out that their fully documented land claim has been unanswered by the executive since 2006, the statement also rejects the imposition of any protected areas on their lands and territories until their constitutionally recognised rights to the ‘habitats’, as territories are referred to in Venezuela law, are first recognised.

Latin American indigenous leaders and organisations urge President Maduro’s intervention to end the repression of the Yukpa and recognise their traditional lands

Over 70 activists and leaders of Latin America’s indigenous peoples movement have written to President Maduro of Venezuela urging his intervention to end the repression of the Yukpa people in the Sierra de Perija region. This began with the Yukpa’s violent eviction from their lands in the 1920s and has continued to this day in the form of repeated imprisonment and oppression of their leaders and even their assassination including that of Sabino Romero in March 2013. The organisations urge President Maduro’s intervention to end the militarisation of the area, initiate processes of peaceful dialogue and fully implement Venezuela’s constitutional commitment to recognise indigenous peoples’ ‘original rights over the lands they have traditionally and ancestrally used and occupied’.

Studies show serious mercury poisoning of indigenous peoples in Caura, Venezuela

Recent research carried out by scientific research bodies in Venezuela shows that 92% of indigenous women of the Caura river, a major affluent of the Orinoco, have levels of mercury poisoning higher than internationally agreed permissible levels. Over one third of those tested have such high levels of mercury poisoning that they have a 5% risk of their newborn children having neurological disorders. The researchers note that the ongoing contamination of rivers, which results from the continuing illegal gold mining in the lands of the Ye'kuana and Sanema peoples, is getting worse and will lead to progressive bio-accumulation, posing an ever growing risk.