MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Artisan Miners of Sifontes Block Highway to Brazil

Published by MAC on 2005-09-08

Artisan Miners of Sifontes Block Highway to Brazil

September 8, 2005

At dawn of Wednesday September 7, artisan miners of Las Claritas in the town of Sifontes (Bolívar, Venezuela) blocked a major highway, protesting against alleged evictions by private companies who have been given mining concessions by the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG). The situation became tense when a confrontation between members of the National Guard and demonstraters left several injured.

The conflicts that small-scale miners in the state of Bolívar a face appear to be sharpening. This was made clear when a group of over a thousand miners decided to blocade the highway 10 at kilometre 88 of the national highway which connects Venezuela and Brazil.

According to the demonstrators, the action comes in response to the strict regulations regarding artisenal mining which the national government has been implementing in the region, as well as a rejection of alleged evictions which the mining companies are carrying out after having been awarded concessions by CVG, who the demonstrators blame for the situation. “They are carrying out evictions with the help of the National Guard,” charge the demonstrators. The situation got tense when at five in the morning the National Guard tried to quell the protests, an action which resulted in several injuries to both demonstrators and soldiers, and the demonstrators charged on national television that some of their leaders were being persecuted.

In a press release sent by miner William Saud, it was claimed that “we are living under continuous harassment; private vigilantes of the transnationals supported by the National Guard are taking our food, they have damaged our equipment, and have provoked us with physical aggressions, depriving us of our individual rights, and have ordered arrests and are holding arrested miners within company installations, but luckily the arrested have great popular support which has prevented this from happening to more of us.”

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