MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Indigenous Communities Reject Ministry Decision

Published by MAC on 2005-09-22

Indigenous communities reject Ministry decision

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

19 Captains of Venezuela's Guayana region indigenous communities are contesting a Basic Industries & Mining (Mibam) Ministry decision to allow mining in their territories.

Indian community leaders say current confrontations with small miners are verbal but could aggravate into more serious violence.

The indigenous communities are situated in Sifontes municipality Cuyuni sector and the leaders argue that permits to small miners will be the death knoll of their communities.

Cuyani sector general secretary, Jose Calderon has told Guayana broadsheet, Correo del Orinoco that Minister Victor Alvarez' decision to allow the development of small mining has provoked an invasion scenario.

"In the Apanau community on the Gran Sabana highway kilometer 38, the miners are up in arms and we will not allow them in."

The Indians claim they were not consulted about the ecological impact of the decision.

The 19 Captains, representing the following ethnic groups: Pemon, Akawaio, Karina and Arawak, have sent the Minister a letter, rejecting the measure and demanding his presence to explain the reasons behind his decision.

Some Captains complain that although the Constitution recognizes their rights, their situation has not really improved when it comes to relevant and important decisions.

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