Why Project SOS Orinoco?

       The Destruction in Venezuela’s Amazonia and Orinoquia

A lot has been said and denounced these past few years about drug trafficking, human rights abuses, and lately the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, but sadly little about the disaster in the Southern region of Venezuela makes it to the mainstream media and social media[i].

This region, comprised of states of Amazonas, Apure, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, encompasses 60% of the national territory and only 10% of the population, shares borders with Brazil, Colombia and Guyana, possesses vast quantities of natural riches, and is the habitat of at least 34 indigenous[ii] and tribal peoples of Venezuela[iii].

Historically, this region has alternated between neglect and attention on the part of Venezuelan rulers, both of which have had negative and positive results. During the past 20 years, the Chavista regime has shown fluctuating levels of attention particularly when both Chavez and Maduro were keen to find new sources of money. During this period, the government has tried to implement 6 programs[iv] in partnership with various countries[v] – the latest one being the Arco Minero[vi] plan announced on February 24, 2016[vii] – to exploit the vast gold[viii], diamond[ix], coltan[x] and other mineral reserves[xi]. The results have been catastrophic both for the region[xii], its people, the environment and will probably have tragic lasting- if not irreversible – effects on Venezuela and beyond.[xiii]

The human and environmental abuses can be classified into five major categories:

1-Violation of human rights[xiv] and fundamental constitutional rights[xv] of tribal[xvi] and other native peoples[xvii] who inhabit in these regions[xviii].

2- Loss of government sovereignty[xix] in these regions:

  • Relinquishing control of quantification and mapping of potential mines to foreign entities[xx]
  • Uncontrolled migratory movements[xxi]
  • Penetration of Colombian guerrillas[xxii] (FARC, etc), presence of TOC/Transnational Organized Criminals and VNSA/Violent non-state actors[xxiii]

3- Deterioration and/or degradation of the environment[xxiv] (rivers, savannahs, forests) all part of the Venezuelan natural heritage[xxv]:

  • Legal[xxvi] and illegal[xxvii] mining has caused pollution of rivers[xxviii] due to the use of cyanide[xxix] and mercury, sedimentation[xxx], destruction of the headwaters of important rivers[xxxi], “Red Mud”, etc
  • Clearing of forests for mining purposes[xxxii], uncontrolled burning of forests that have led to desertification[xxxiii] and is affecting the rains in the region[xxxiv]
  • Pollution, illegal mining and potential destruction[xxxv] of UNESCO World Heritage Site Canaima National Park[xxxvi] as well as other national parks[xxxvii]

4- Serious health issues:

  • Diseases[xxxviii] that had been practically eliminated in Venezuela have made a comeback in the past decade, hurting first and foremost the tribal peoples in these regions, who are the most vulnerable: Yellow Fever, Malaria[xxxix], Onchocerciasis, H1N1, HIV-AIDS, Diarrhea, Diphtheria[xl], Tuberculosis, Leishmaniasis, Hydrargyria poisoning (Mercury poisoning[xli])
  • Severe malnutrition, alcoholism, prostitution[xlii]
  • Birth defects[xliii]

5- Drug trafficking, smuggling[xliv] and new source of “conflict” minerals[xlv]: cement, gasoline, arms, munitions, drugs, timber and precious woods[xlvi], plants and animals as well as human trafficking[xlvii]and prostitution[xlviii].

Since the announcement of the Arco Minero decree, the region has seen a rise in conflict between the National Guard, the army, Colombian insurgents, gangs[xlix] and small illegal miners[l]. It would seem that the Maduro regime has lost sovereignty – deliberately and criminally – of its territories, and allows and participates in all types of environmental and human rights abuses[li], all of which are destroying not only a national treasure that belongs to Venezuelans, but also to humanity. The state owned companies that used to control mining in the region have been dismantled and replaced by a company controlled by the Venezuelan army (CAMIMPEG)[lii], foreign companies such as the Chinese CITIC Group[liii] as well as Colombian insurgent groups and illegal miners.

At this time when the international community is actively denouncing and holding accountable the Maduro regime for human rights abuses, the mounting humanitarian and democratic crises, the environmental and human rights abuses that are occurring in the Southern region of Venezuela should be added to the long list.

Over the years, a few brave journalists, scientists, retired members of the armed forces, explorers, etc. have documented and denounced the abuses and criminal activities that have flourished during the Chavez and now Maduro regimes, but sadly this information has had limited visibility on the front lines of the media.

The purpose of Project SOSOrinoco is to shed light on the existing body of work regarding the situation in the Amazonas and Orinoco regions of Venezuela, to raise awareness of the tragedy that is occurring and to outline some urgent measures that need to be taken in order to halt the unfolding human and environmental disaster.

[i] Virginia Behm, Lucio Marcello, “Orinoco Mining Belt: A Mega-mining threat to the Venezuelan Amazon” https://virginiabehm.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=18e425a6057945af9ad56e8af989a656

[ii] TheEcologist.org “Guayana is also the home of 19 indigenous peoples, whose way of life is in principle safeguarded by Venezuela’s 1999 constitution. Even though only 12% of their lands have been demarcated, around two thirds of these are located within ABRAE, conferring some degree of protection, at least on paper. As many as 11 different peoples (Pemon, Yekuana, Karina, Enepa, Mapoyo, Arawak, Piaroa, Sanema, Akawayo, Jodi/Hoti and Pume) are directly affected by the Arco Minero.”

[iii] Powerpoint Presentation by General(R) Emilio Ascanio https://www.dropbox.com/s/3r0tdkr88fekd7y/PROYECTO%20VENEZUELA%20AMAZONAS%20V1.pptx?dl=0

[iv] Actualidadygente.com “Cinco Planes de Control minero no han logrado frenar extraccion ilegal en Guayana” http://actualidadygente.com/noticias-venezuela-hoy/41757-cinco-planes-de-control-minero-no-han-logrado-frenar-la-extraccion-ilegal-en-guayana

[v] Failed plans involving Canada, China, Cubanos, Ecuador and Iran: http://correodelcaroni.com/index.php/politica/item/15018-gobierno-ensaya-quinto-plan-contra-la-mineria-ilegal-en-bolivar

[vi] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla “Decreto 2.248 de la Gaceta Oficial Nº 40.855 que crea la Zona de Desarrollo Estratégico Nacional Arco Minero del Orinoco (AMO) en una extensión de 111.843, 70 kilómetros cuadrados, más grande que países como Portugal, Panamá o Cuba.”

[vii] Wikipedia https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arco_minero_del_Orinoco

[viii] Clavel A. Rangel Jiménez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla Para mayo de 2016 el Gobierno avanza en sus intenciones de entregar el proyecto Las Cristinas, la quinta mina de oro en el mundo con más de 17 millones de onzas probadas, a la transnacional canadiense Gold Reserve.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

[ix] Jeanfreddy Gutierrez Torres, Mongabay.com “The government also estimates there to be three billion carats in diamonds in the region, and at least 300 thousand metric tons of rare earth elements: cerium, lanthanum, neodymium and thorium.” (Oct 31, 2016) https://news.mongabay.com/2016/10/thirst-for-coltan-gold-threatens-venezuelan-forests-indigenous-lands/ October 2016

[x] Jeanfreddy Gutierrez Torres, Mongabay.com “From 2008-2010, tumbling oil prices caused by the global economic crisis, prompted socialist President Hugo Chávez to announce the nation’s salvation: it lay in hidden reserves of a dull black metallic ore, vital to the world and worth $100 billion dollars. 31 October 2016” “ Maduro’s administration — which is struggling for its political life amid food and medicine shortages and major civil unrest — late this summer announced the opening of vast swathes of the country’s pristine wilderness and the signing of contracts with transnational and domestic mining corporations.” https://news.mongabay.com/2016/10/thirst-for-coltan-gold-threatens-venezuelan-forests-indigenous-lands/ October 2016

[xi] Bram Ebus “Arc of Desperation” Sept 2017 “According to government estimates, the entire Arco Minero region contains some 7,000 tons of gold, which if certified would make Venezuela’s gold deposits second only to Australia’s. Similarly, it estimates the region has $100 billion in coltan reserves (the metallic ore is widely used in electronic devices), as well as three billion carats in diamonds, and at least 300,000 metric tons of rare earth elements. None of these estimates, however, have been independently verified.” http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/arc_of_desperation/

[xii] Jeanfreddy Gutierrez Torres, Mongabay.com – “Illegal gold mining, which uses toxic mercury in its production, pollutes rivers and poisons local populations. Venezuela’s Southeast is already suffering from a “perfect storm” of illegality, deforestation and mafias, while there are regular reports of attacks on miners and indigenous people in the biologically rich Venezuelan” Amazon.https://news.mongabay.com/2016/10/thirst-for-coltan-gold-threatens-venezuelan-forests-indigenous-lands/ October 2016

[xiii] Victor Peña, LaPatilla.com “Dávila agregó que el proyecto es más grande que Panamá, Cuba, otras islas del Caribe y más grande que muchos países europeos.“No solo va a afectar a las comunidades locales al sur del Orinoco, nos va a afectar a cada uno de los venezolanos, va a ir mucho más allá de nuestras fronteras“, señaló.” https://www.lapatilla.com/site/2017/12/07/ecocidio-del-arco-minero-del-orinoco-es-mas-grande-que-panama

 

[xiv] Dr. Marcus Colchester, ForestPeoples.org: “By the mid-1990s, all mining in the State of Amazonas was decreed illegal.” “The policy poses a major threat to the indigenous peoples of the south of the country who have been vocal in their opposition to the policy since it was announced. Public statements denouncing the opening up of their lands to mining have been made by the indigenous organisations representing indigenous women, the indigenous peoples of the Guayana region and the local indigenous peoples’ organisations of the Sanema, Yanomami, Ye’kuana, Pemon, Eñepa, Yabarana, Warekena, Kurripaco, Baniba, Yeral, Hiwi and Wottoja (Piaroa) peoples. They have been widely supported by NGOs, academics, environmental experts and human rights groups, as well as by opposition politicians in the Congress. Complaints have also been sent to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights pointing out how the mining policy violates Venezuela’s human rights obligations under international law.” May, 2017

[xv] Esteban Emilio Monsonyi: “Una de las voces que se ha sumado en contra es el rector de la Universidad Nacional Experimental Indígena del Tauca, el antropólogo Esteban Emilio Monsonyi, quien ha indicado en un foro en la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB), en Guayana, reseñado por el Correo del Caroní, que: “Somos el primer país con un proyecto mega minero, sin ningún tipo de consulta a sus ciudadanos, mucho menos a las comunidades indígenas”. http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

 

[xvi] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla “La medida, sin embargo, es violatoria de los convenios internacionales en materia de derechos humanos y de la Constitución Bolivariana de la República de Venezuela. El Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea) ha manifestado que el Arco Minero se formaliza incumpliendo las obligaciones constitucionales de realizar estudios de impacto ambiental y sociocultural en las actividades susceptibles de generar daños a los ecosistemas (artículo 129) así como consultar de manera previa, libre e informada a los pueblos originarios cuando se aprovechen recursos naturales en hábitats indígenas (artículo 120, Convenio 169 de la OIT).” “Más de veinte comunidades de los pueblos Ye’kwana-Sanema y Pemón suscribieron el 24 de abril una carta de abierto rechazo en el marco de la XX Asamblea General Ordinaria de la Organización Kujuyani.” Junio22, 2016 http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

[xvii] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla “Los pueblos originarios de esta región, de los grupos CARIBE (E´ñapa, Kari´ña, Pemón, Yabarana, Ye´kuana), YANOAMAMI (Sanema, Yanomam, Yanomami), SÁLIVA (Jodï, Piaroa) verán seriamente alterado su modo de vida y sustento económico, dada la intervención minera que propone el Decreto”

[xviii] Dr. Marcus Colchester, ForestPeoples.org “Venezuela’s Constitution and its law on indigenous peoples actually guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples, including their rights to own and control their lands and territories (habitat) and their right to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent to operations on their lands. However, the government has repeatedly blocked recognition of these peoples’ land claims. It is estimated by national human rights groups that only some 12% of indigenous land rights have yet been titled.”, May 2017

 

[xix] Phil Gunson, International Crisis Group: “The state cannot or will not regulate mining,” Gunson says, “and those in charge of applying the law (including the military) merely take advantage of the opportunity to make money for themselves.”

 

[xx] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla “En ese orden, ha sido la cuantificación y certificación de reservas mineras otro eslabón en la entrega de la soberanía al firmarse –en 2012– acuerdos con la estatal china Citic Group para el desarrollo conjunto del proyecto Las Cristinas (en el municipio Sifontes). El convenio suscrito en septiembre, y entonces anunciado por el ministro de Petróleo y Minería, Rafael Ramírez, consistía en realizar un mapa minero de todas las reservas del país, lo que significaba una extensión de los convenios con la firma asiática que entró inicialmente a Venezuela con contratos para la construcción de viviendas.” Junio 22, 2016 http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

 

[xxi] ForestPeoples.org “Some 150,000 illegal miners, many from Colombia and Brazil, are estimated to be operating in the south of the country, supported by collusive relations with the local security forces and armed guerrillas. These mines are already having a devastating impact on the indigenous peoples and their forests and wider ecosystems. Mercury pollution is rampant; mosquito-borne malaria has increased; prostitution of indigenous women is reported and; death threats have been made to indigenous leaders who oppose the miners.” May, 2017

 

[xxii] ForestPeoples.org as a widely respected leader of the Piaroa Indigenous People’s Organisation of the Sipapo (OIPUS), Freddy was at the forefront of community efforts to halt the invasion of the Sipapo river by illegal gold-miners and Colombian insurgents. His killing is seen as yet another example of the lawlessness and lack of protection of indigenous peoples’ rights that prevails in the interior of Venezuela.” ForestPeoples.org July 2017

 

[xxiii] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla “La soberanía, sin embargo, también ha estado amenazada por ser esta zona controlada por grupos que actúan al margen del Estado y, según las denuncias de sus pobladores, en clara anuencia con funcionarios del Gobierno.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/ Junio 22, 2016

 

[xxiv] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla “El Centro de Investigaciones Ecológicas de Venezuela (CIEV) ha resaltado la importancia de preservar la biodiversidad que abarca bosques y selvas protegidas por decretos de reserva como el caso de Imataca de 3 millones 800 mil hectáreas, o el de La Paragua y El Caura con 5 millones 134 mil hectáreas, así como monumentos naturales como el caso de Guanay. La Cuenca del Caroní, por ejemplo, está protegida por leyes ambientales y convenios internacionales. Abarca 96 mil kilómetros cuadrados y provee de las reservas de agua dulce más importantes del país, de la que se genera el 60 % de la energía hidroeléctrica.http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/ Junio 22, 2016

 

[xxv] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla En una entrevista el investigador Lionel Hernández, de la Universidad Nacional Experimental de Guayana (UNEG)[i], calcula que entre 36 % y 57 % de las especies arbóreas del área están en peligro de desaparecer si se implementa el AMO.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/ Junio 22, 2016

 

[xxvi] TheEcologist.org The Venezuelan government promises that the Arco Minero will be a model ‘clean’ and ‘eco-socialist’ mining project. However, even in state-of-the-art mining operations, tailing dams are prone to leaking and contamination of waterways. Just over the last year, two cyanide spills occurred at Barrick Gold’s mega-mines in Argentina, and the company was forced to suspend operations temporarily.” March 2017

 

[xxvii] Bram Ebus “Arc of Desperation”: “150,000 informal miners in the region: “150,000 informal miners flocking to the region today, they have already caused significant environmental damage to the fragile forest ecosystem.” Sept 2017

[xxviii] Bram Ebus “Arc of Desperation”: “Beyond the potential impacts on the forest and its wildlife are serious threats to the country’s water supply – the southern reaches of Arco Minero hold 70 percent of the country’s freshwater sources” Sept 2017

 

[xxix]Victor Peña, LaPatilla.com “La forma de organización que promueve el gobierno de la pequeña minería que son las brigadas socialistas mineras siguen utilizando cianuro“, mencionó Edgar López, periodista y principal autor del trabajo investigativo Arco Minero del Orinoco crimen, corrupción y cianuro en conversación con Reinaldo Pulido y además destacó que la pequeña minería utiliza también el mercurio. https://www.lapatilla.com/site/2017/12/07/ecocidio-del-arco-minero-del-orinoco-es-mas-grande-que-panama/

 

[xxx] ActualidadyGente.com “La minería ilegal afecta incluso la generación eléctrica del país, pues la actividad se realiza en la cuenca del río Caroní, donde está la represa del Guri, y el sedimento que se desprende afecta la capacidad de almacenamiento del embalse y disminuye la vida útil de las turbinas.” http://actualidadygente.com/noticias-venezuela-hoy/41757-cinco-planes-de-control-minero-no-han-logrado-frenar-la-extraccion-ilegal-en-guayana

 

[xxxi] Clavel A. Rangel Jimenez, Revista SIC, Centro Gumilla “Monsonyi hizo referencia al comunicado de los Yekwana, en donde se oponen al desarrollo del Arco Minero del Orinoco dentro de sus tierras, así como la afectación que generará a la Orinoquía que “está encerrada, ahora, en una enorme tenaza minera, el río está condenado a muerte, prácticamente”, lo cual acabaría con el principal surtidor de agua dulce.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/ Junio 22, 2016

 

[xxxii] Lucio Marcello, The Ecologist.org: “In addition, given the large volume of earth needed to extract 1 gram of gold (estimates are 1-1.5 tons of earth), the waste generated is enormous, and the area used for extraction is essentially dead thereafter, with little chance of it ever being recovered for other uses.” https://theecologist.org/2017/mar/30/saving-venezuelan-amazon-mega-nature-reserve-or-mega-mining-frontier March 2017

 

[xxxiii] Phil Gunson, International Crisis Group “According to a report by the Amazon environmental information network , (Red Amazónica De Información Socioambiental Georreferenciada), Venezuela is the only country where Amazon rainforest deforestation rates increased between 2000 and 2013. It’s not just deforestation that’s impacting the region, but also the contamination of waterways and the destruction of river beds in the Orinoco Belt, which is proceeding at an unprecedented pace, says Phillip Gunson”

 

[xxxiv] TheEcologist.org “According to another mining is already the main driver of deforestation in Guayana, Venezuela being the only country where Amazon rainforest deforestation rates increased between 2000 and 2013.” “water scarcity has a direct effect on the generation of electricity, as 60% of the country’s electricity is generated by a set of four dams along the Caroni river (the major tributary of the Orinoco), whose flow in recent years has been severely affected by droughts, to the point that the government has had to ration electricity several times over the past years.” TheEcologist.org March 2017

 

[xxxv] TheEcologist.org “Immediately south of the Arco Minero lies Canaima National Park, a Unesco world heritage site, now threatened by encroaching mining operations (550 / 30,000 km2 are already affected, the Red Amazónica De Información Socioambiental Georreferenciada).”

[xxxvi]Bram Ebus “The Arc Of Desperation” http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/arc_of_desperation/

“The area slated for mining holds seven natural monuments and five national parks. The most significant of these is Canaima National Park – a 12,000-square-mile unesco World Heritage site known for its unique topography of flat-topped mountain formations known as tepuis. One third of the plants here are found nowhere else on the planet. Canaima harbors nearly half of the neotropical migratory birds that winter in South America, as well as an astounding array of wild animals, including jaguars, giant anteaters, ocelots, and giant armadillos. The park also hosts the highest waterfall in the world, Salto Ángel, which is more than 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.” Sept 2017

 

[xxxvii] Mongabay.com The region slated for mining development also includes the Imataca Forest Reserve (3,000,800 hectares); the La Paragua and El Caura reserves (5,134,000 combined hectares); the Cerro Guanay Natural Monument; plus the Caroní River watershed (covering 96,000 square kilometers).”

[xxxviii] Letter to OMS “Las enfermedades transmisibles, prevenibles -mediante vacunas, o mediante programas de control de vectores, saneamiento ambiental, calidad del agua de consumo humano y educación para la salud- han reaparecido y amenazan con la ampliación de las áreas de transmisión. Ejemplo de esto, es la reaparición de la difteria después de 24 años de haberse erradicado. May 2017

[xxxix] PAHO & WHO report “Epidemiology Alert Increase in cases of Malaria “In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 4 an increase in malaria cases has been observed since 2010 and, by 2016, there were 240,613 cases, representing a 76% increase over the same period of the previous year (136,402 cases) (Figure 2). Of those cases, 75% (179,554) were due to P. vivax, 19% (46,503) due to P. falciparum, and 6% of cases (14,531) from mixed infections. Although the cases are registered in 16 of the country’s 24 states, the municipality of Domingo Sifontes, in the state of Bolívar, reported the largest number of cases nationally (43% of total cases reported), with the epidemic related to the gold exploitation surge and the corresponding movement of people from other states and countries, which settle in conditions conducive to the transmission of malaria.” http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&Itemid=270&gid=38146&lang=en February 2017

[xl] Letter of Concern Malaria Day 2017 “Venezuela has a complex humanitarian crisis with several ongoing epidemics affecting the population – malaria, HIV, TB, measles, diphtheria, etc.”

 

[xli] Nalúa Silva: “Los Ye’kwana y Sanema tienen 40 veces más concentración de mercurio en pelo que lo máximo que recomienda la Organización Mundial de la Salud, según un estudio realizado por médicos de la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Oriente”, dijo la investigadora Nalúa Silva, de la Universidad Nacional Experimental de Guayana.” http://actualidadygente.com/noticias-venezuela-hoy/41757-cinco-planes-de-control-minero-no-han-logrado-frenar-la-extraccion-ilegal-en-guayana

 

[xlii] ForestPeoples.org“ In a joint statement of indigenous leaders and the celebrated national research institute, Alejandro Lanz, the Director of the Venezuelan Centre for Ecological Investigations (CIEV) states that “Social problems, such as the displacement of indigenous villages, neo-slavery, prostitution, alcohol and drugs, and the systematic theft of outboard engines, have been brought in by this illegal mining in what is classed as the last natural frontier in Venezuela, the Caura.”

 

[xliii] “36,8% de las mujeres de las comunidades indígenas Ye’kwana y Sanema tienen tal nivel de contaminación por mercurio que corren el riesgo de tener niños con desórdenes neurológicos” http://actualidadygente.com/noticias-venezuela-hoy/41757-cinco-planes-de-control-minero-no-han-logrado-frenar-la-extraccion-ilegal-en-guayana

 

[xliv] Revista SIC – Centro Gumilla: “La soberanía, sin embargo, también ha estado amenazada por ser esta zona controlada por grupos que actúan al margen del Estado y, según las denuncias de sus pobladores, en clara anuencia con funcionarios del Gobierno.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

 

[xlv] Mongabay.com: “The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a series of articles concerning the illegal traffic in coltan titled “Venezuela emerges as new source of ‘conflict’ minerals”, notes that illegal trade between international brokers and a network of miners protected by criminal gangs is well underway, with smuggling taking place on the border of Venezuela with Colombia and Brazil. The series also states that the illegal miners have used Venezuelan military forces as a shield.” Oct 2016

 

[xlvi] Lionel Hernandez – Revista SIC – Centro Gumilla: En una entrevista el investigador Lionel Hernández, de la Universidad Nacional Experimental de Guayana (UNEG)[i], calcula que entre 36 % y 57 % de las especies arbóreas del área están en peligro de desaparecer si se implementa el AMO.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

 

[xlvii] ForestPeoples.org May 2017 “Some 150,000 illegal miners, many from Colombia and Brazil, are estimated to be operating in the south of the country, supported by collusive relations with the local security forces and armed guerrillas. These mines are already having a devastating impact on the indigenous peoples and their forests and wider ecosystems. Mercury pollution is rampant; mosquito-borne malaria has increased; prostitution of indigenous women is reported and; death threats have been made to indigenous leaders who oppose the miners.”

[xlviii] ForestPeoples.org: “Mercury pollution is rampant; mosquito-borne malaria has increased; prostitution of indigenous women is reported and; death threats have been made to indigenous leaders who oppose the miners.” May 2017

[xlix] Bram Ebus, Mongabay.com – “That endeavor, at the moment, is largely controlled not by transnational mining companies joined in state-corporate ventures – as promoted and promised by Maduro – but rather by illegal armed groups called pranes.” https://news.mongabay.com/2018/01/venezuelas-mining-arc-boom-sweeps-up-indigenous-people-and-cultures/ January 15, 2018

 

[l] Bram Ebus, Mongabay.com “The region, located south of the Orinoco River, is reportedly rich with the world’s most wanted ores, but is also plagued by conflict, fueled by the military, local armed gangs and Colombian guerrilla groups — all seeking control of an estimated, but uncertified, $100 billion in hidden minerals.” https://news.mongabay.com/2017/12/militarization-and-mining-a-dangerous-mix-in-venezuelan-amazon/ December 7, 2017

[li] Revista SIC – Centro Gumilla: “La medida, sin embargo, es violatoria de los convenios internacionales en materia de derechos humanos y de la Constitución Bolivariana de la República de Venezuela. El Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea) ha manifestado que el Arco Minero se formaliza incumpliendo las obligaciones constitucionales de realizar estudios de impacto ambiental y sociocultural en las actividades susceptibles de generar daños a los ecosistemas (artículo 129) así como consultar de manera previa, libre e informada a los pueblos originarios cuando se aprovechen recursos naturales en hábitats indígenas (artículo 120, Convenio 169 de la OIT).” “Más de veinte comunidades de los pueblos Ye’kwana-Sanema y Pemón suscribieron el 24 de abril una carta de abierto rechazo en el marco de la XX Asamblea General Ordinaria de la Organización Kujuyani.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

 

[lii] Bram Ebus Mongabay.com “According to de Grazia, most Venezuelan mining is accomplished by illegal armed groups, which control large numbers of small-scale miners. The deputy also says that the “legal” gold that the state companies claim to produce is not actually mined by them, but rather by illegal mines and miners. “There is an established culture for the robbery of minerals. The [government now] intends to capitalize on [this] through CAMIMPEG,” the military’s mining company.” https://news.mongabay.com/2017/12/militarization-and-mining-a-dangerous-mix-in-venezuelan-amazon/ December 7, 2017

 

[liii] Revista SIC – Centro Gumilla: “En ese orden, ha sido la cuantificación y certificación de reservas mineras otro eslabón en la entrega de la soberanía al firmarse –en 2012– acuerdos con la estatal china Citic Group para el desarrollo conjunto del proyecto Las Cristinas (en el municipio Sifontes). El convenio suscrito en septiembre, y entonces anunciado por el ministro de Petróleo y Minería, Rafael Ramírez, consistía en realizar un mapa minero de todas las reservas del país, lo que significaba una extensión de los convenios con la firma asiática que entró inicialmente a Venezuela con contratos para la construcción de viviendas.” http://revistasic.gumilla.org/2016/del-plan-guayana-socialista-al-arco-minero-del-orinoco/

 

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