Thursday, September 06, 2012


SEPT. 11, 2012


Survivors of the 1993 Haximú massacre hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives.
Chavez says they are making it up.
 Credit: Courtesy of C. Zacquini/Survival International

I have said it before and I will say it again, Hugo Chavez is not red, he is a populist and nothing more.  Now, that doesn't mean everything about the guy is bad, far from it, but it does mean everything about the guy isn't good.  Leftists who pretend that he is the second coming of Che and a saviour of the people are way overboard with their praise.  Yes, he is an irritant to the likes of the United States, and yes, he is an improvement over the last bunch of guys, but he has a long way to go and a lot of baggage to get rid of before he makes it onto my most admired list (something that I am sure deeply troubles him).

 Anyway, about 20,000 Yanomami people live in small communities in the Amazon rainforest bordering Brazil and Venezuela.  From time to time, like so many indigenous people the world over, they are subject to being massacred.  In fact, twenty percent of them died in the 1980s as a consequence of the intrusion of gold mining.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I am sure that those who most admire Chavez will have an explanation for the reaction of his government to the massacre this summer of Yanomami inside Venezuela by Brazilian gold miners.  As the Guardian reported:

"A massacre of up to 80 Yanomami Indians has taken place in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas.  According to local testimonies an armed group [illegal gold miners] flew over in a helicopter, opening fire with guns and launching explosives into Irotatheri settlement in the High Ocamo area."

Survival International stated in a recent news release:

"Witnesses of the aftermath described finding 'burnt bodies and bones' when they visited the community of Irotatheri in the country's Momoi region, close to the border with Brazil....The attack is believed to have happened in July, but news is only just emerging."

Why the massacre?  It is just one more result of the growing war for liimitied resources combined with racism worldwide.

As Truthout aptly puts it:

Unfortunately such events will likely increase in the coming decades because much of the last remaining natural resources left on Earth are in lands inhabited by indigenous communities, or underneath oceans on which indigenous communities depend on—Amazon, Arctic,forests of India... Small illegal bands of garimpeiros or big corporations supported by governments will do everything to destroy and displace human and nonhuman communities to extract those resources.

Okay, let us return to where we started - Hugo Chavez.  Venezuela says its investigation shows no evidence of any massacre.  Of course, the investigative panel apparently did not actually visit the site of the massacre.  

 Gen. José Eliecer Pinto of the National Guard told Ultimas Noticias newspaper that he had visited four indigenous communities along with other officials and that "everything is fine there."  

Chavez himself said yesterday, "Neither evidence nor accounts from the indigenous people themselves turned up anywhere."

Uh, Mr. Chavez it is the "indigenous people themselves" who are reporting the massacre.. strange.

Somebody is lying and to me, it seems unlikely that the Yanomami are just making this all up.  Again, it is important to recall this isn't the first instance of violence and abductions faced by the Yanomami at the hands of miners.

Liborio Guarulla, governor of Amazonas state, says the federal government is acting in bad faith and is, "...mobilizing resources just to silence the matter." Advocates for the Yanomami say their demand for an investigation is unusual because their traditions discourage discussion of the dead. "It's a measure of how serious the problem is that they are making these allegations," said Marcos Wesley de Oliveira of Brazilian advocacy group Instituto Socioambiental

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) now wants some information on the investigation carried out by Venezuela...and Brazil into the massacre.  The Commission also is reminding Venezuela of the commitment made in March to take steps to protect the Yanomami from Brazilian miners.

I will leave you with this:

Declaration from Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon regarding the Yanomami Massacre

On the day of August 27th, 2012, gathered in the City of Puerto Ayacucho, we the Indigenous peoples and communities of the Venezuelan Amazon together as the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon (COIAM), made up of the Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (ORPIA), the Indigenous Organization United Piaroa of Sipapo (OIPUS), the Ye ́kuana Organization of the Upper Ventuari (KUYUNU), the Indigenous Organization Jivi Kalievirrinae (OPIJKA), the Yanomami Organization (HORONAMI), the Organization of Indigenous Women of the Amazon (OMIDA), the Organization of Indigenous Huôttuja Communities of the Parhuaza Sector (OCIUSPA), the Association of Piaroa Teachers (Madoya Huarijja), the Piaroa Organization of Cataniapo “Reyö Aje”, the Indigenous Organization of the Negro River (UCIABYRN), the Piaroa Organization of Manapiare, the Ye ́kuana Organization of the Upper Orinoco (KUYUJANI Originario), Yabarana Organization of Parucito (OIYAPAM), the Political Movement- Multi-Ethnic People United of the Amazon (PUAMA), make the following declaration in rejection of the most recent MASSACRE OF INDIGENOUS YANOMAMI PEOPLE which took place in the community of IROTATHERI, Municipality of Alto Orinoco, committed by illegal miners from Brazil. This information was shared by the survivors and witnesses during the month of August 2012:

1. We stand in solidarity with the Yanomami People in Venezuela and their organization HORONAMI, who was victimized in the month of July 2012, due to the most RECENT MASSACRE IN THE COMMUNITY OF IROTATHERI, located in the headwaters of the Ocamo River, Municipality of Alto Orinoco. The area of the massacre is within the area of influence of various Yanomami communities such as; MOMOI, HOKOMAWE, USHISHIWE and TORAPIWEI, of which all have been attacked, assaulted and invaded by illegal miners from Brazil (GARIMPEIROS) during the last 4 years.

2. We mourn this most recent violent attack against the Yanomami people that left an amount of dead that has not been completely determined but there are 3 survivors accounted for of approximately 80 Yanomami people who lived in the community Shapono in the Upper Ocamo. According to witness and survivor testimonies, Shapono was burnt and attacked with firearms and explosives. Witnesses and survivors were relocated to the community of Parima “B” between August 15th - 20th, 2012, where they informed of the tragic events to members of the organization HORONAMI, Venezuelan Authorities of the 52nd Brigade of the National Army and the Center for Investigation and Control of Tropical Diseases (CAICET).

3. We express our preoccupation that as of the year 2009 various entities ofthe Venezuelan State have been informed about the presence of GARIMPEIROS in the Upper Ocamo and about the different aggressions that have perpetuated against the communities of MOMOI and HOKOMAWE. These communities have been victims of physical violence, threats, gender violence and contamination of their water from the use of mercury that has left a number of Yanomami dead. None the less NO MEASURES WERE TAKEN TO REMOVE THE GARIMPEIROS FROM THE AREA or to create and implement a control plan regarding their access and mobility in the region when there has been an known increase in illegal mining in all of the Brazilian Amazon.

4. This situation does not only affect the rights to LIFE, PHYSICAL INTEGRITY AND HEALTH OF THE YANOMAMI PEOPLE, but also constitutes a new genocide and threat to the physical and cultural survival of the Yanomami. In this very moment when next year marks the 20th anniversary of the Massacre of HAXIMÚ in which 16 Yanomami women, children and elders were killed.

5. We solicit the National Government and other entities of the Venezuelan State to immediately OPEN A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, TO COME TO THE PLACE OF THE MASSACRE AND TO ADOPT BILATERAL AGREEMENTS WITH BRAZIL to control and watch the movement of garimpeiros in the Upper Ocamo, the place of the massacre and presence of Yanomami threatened by the uncontrolled actions of the garimpeiros. We remind that the failure to investigate and take the necessary measures as a result of the case of HAXIMÚ, could compromise the international responsibility of the Venezuelan State, for allowing foreign agents to attack Venezuelan nationals in their own territory.
Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (ORPIA) Indigenous Organization United Piaroa of Sipapo (OIPUS) Ye ́kuana Organization of the Upper Ventuari (KUYUNU) Indigenous Organization Jivi Kalievirrinae (OPIJKA)

Yanomami Organization (HORONAMI) Organization of Indigenous Women of the Amazon (OMIDA)
Organization of Indigenous Huôttuja Communities of the Parhuaza Sector (OCIUSPA)
Association of Piaroa Teachers (Madoya Huarijja)
Piaroa Organization of Cataniapo “Reyö Aje” Indigenous Organization of the Negro River (UCIABYRN) Piaroa Organization of Manapiare Ye ́kuana Organization of the Upper Orinoco (KUYUJANI Originario) Yabarana Organization of Parucito (OIYAPAM) Political Movement- Multi-Ethnic People United of the Amazon (PUAMA)
José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal Vice-Cordinator CONIVE
Guillermo Guevara (Indigenous Consituyent 1999)


The following was taken from The First Perspective/The Drum.

Survival denounces Venezuela’s ‘whitewash’ of Yanomami ‘massacre’


6 September 2012

Survival International has denounced the Venezuelan government’s repeated denials of a massacre against Yanomami Indians, calling on President Chávez to evict all illegal goldminers from indigenous territory and conduct a proper, on-site investigation.

The President is the latest senior Venezuelan official to insist there is no evidence of an attack on the Irotatheri community, in a remote part of the Amazon, close to the border with Brazil.

However, the Organization of American States has now joined Survival and indigenous organizations in the Amazon, in urging Venezuela to ‘conduct a thorough investigation to conclusively determine what happened.’

The OAS says, ‘States have an obligation under international human rights law to conduct a judicial investigation into the serious acts of violence reported.’

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director also said today, ‘If the Venezuelan government had the welfare of its indigenous peoples at heart it would be taking action to remove the miners from Indian land, rather than taking pains to deny there was a violent confrontation between the miners and the Indians. It’s behaving just like Latin American governments always have, putting the protection of its own reputation above the lives of its Indians. Next we’ll be hearing that we’re part of a capitalist conspiracy to destabilize the government in its election year, just as we’re part of a left-wing conspiracy when we denounce this kind of violence in rightist countries. Indigenous peoples have been treated equally badly by both right and left, for generations. President Chávez should get all those invading indigenous territory kicked out throughout Venezuela, and make sure this particular incident, where murders have been reported, is subject to an immediate and proper investigation.’

On Monday, the Coordinating body of Indigenous Organizations of Amazonia (COIAM) released a declaration recognizing the efforts of the investigation, but expressing their concern that the commission ‘did not reach Irotatheri Shapono, the place where the alleged events took place in July.’

Witnesses of the attack’s aftermath reported finding ‘burnt bodies and bones’.

Survival International helps tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures. Founded 1969.

1 comment:

Oread Daily said...