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: 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.

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. 

Amazonian Indigenous Peoples oppose government mining expansion plans

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.