After a serious, new outbreak of malaria in the Upper Caura river, University staff from Ciudad Bolivar and Ye’kwana health workers have once again appealed to the national and regional governments to end the illegal mining in the area.
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.
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.
Statement by Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin – COICA
The Peruvian Amazon turns blood red before COP20: Without territories and rights there will be no climate solutions
A new report from the Centro de Investigaciones Ecológicas de Venezuela (CIEV) documents the incursion of armed bands of foreign miners in the Upper Caura river, an area the Government long ago agreed be set aside for the Sanema and Ye'kwana indigenous peoples.
Indigenous peoples from the Venezuelan State of Amazonas grouped together under the umbrella organisation COIAM (Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indigenas de Amazonas) have mobilised in opposition to new plans to open up their State to mining.
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.
In a public statement the indigenous organisation COIAM, representing all the most active indigenous peoples' organisations in the Venezuelan Amazon, have expressed their opposition to government negotiations with foreign companies to open up their ancestral territories to mining without consultation or sharing of information. There are especially concerned by the advanced plans of a Chinese Corporation named as Citic Group with prospecting camps in a number of strategic locations in the indigenous peoples' heartlands.
Yukpa leader and activist, Sabino Romero, was assassinated on 3 March 2013, according to the Venezuelan national human rights organisation, Provea.