Venezuela: Yanomami march for health and justice, while illegal mines in Caura reach flashpoint

Date of publication: 
23 February 2015

Yanomami from their organization, Horonami, marched through the regional capital in the Venezuelan Amazon on 20th February demanding better health-care and respect for their culture and dignity. Noting the problems they suffer from introduced diseases and lack of consistent health care, they issued a statement demanding a roundtable to address their problems. The regional health authority responded by agreeing to organise such a meeting and to fly the body of a recently deceased Yanomami back to his community.

The previous day, Ye’kwana and Sanema from the Caura river in Bolivar State, through their indigenous organisation, Kuyujani, sent out a message denouncing the actions of the local military commander who had burned down houses in an attempt to quash Kuyujani’s resistance to illegal gold mining in their territory, in which the security forces are complicit. The indigenous people took the commander and several of his men hostage while the dispute was resolved. Shots were fired during the incident without causing harm. The complaint prompted the government to send a ‘high level’ commission to investigate the matter.

Further north in Apure State, a locally elected indigenous mayor published a detailed report criticising the government for its failure to respect the Constitutional rights of the Pume peope, in particular their right to education. The institutional neglect by local authorities is causing serious social problems among the indigenous peoples, including loss of self-respect and self-harm.