Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Venezuela: armed assaults on Yabarana indigenous peoples by illegal miners

4 February, 2016

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 increasingly lawless situation on the southern frontier is of mounting concern to the indigenous peoples of the country who, despite the country’s progressive laws, find their ancestral domains unrecognised and unprotected. Illegal mining and armed groups are invading indigenous peoples’ lands with apparent impunity.

The Working Group on Indigenous Affairs of the University of Merida in Venezuela has issued a call on the government to halt the harassment of indigenous peoples and take responsibility for whatever befalls Benjamin Perez and calls on the newly elected National Assembly to pass a law for speeding up the recognition and protection of indigenous territories.

Statement (Spanish only)

Supporting statement: Comunicado COIAM/ORPIA Agresion Yabarana (Spanish only)