Venezuela’s constitution recognizes its indigenous populations, yet their rights are trampled by the illegitimate Maduro regime.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly, under the direction of legitimate interim President Juan Guaidó, is working to ensure indigenous people are part of the democratic process.
Indigenous people comprise 2.8 percent of Venezuela’s population. The government officially recognizes more than 51 different groups.
Many of the groups live near or in the Orinoco mining arc — 112,000 square kilometers of land in Venezuela’s middle belt that is naturally rich with gold, diamonds, coltan and bauxite.
The land is also occupied by armed Colombian groups and others working for the Maduro regime, which seeks to profit from selling the mined minerals.
We mourn the 5 indigenous victims in the Ikabarú parish in Venezuela, who are the latest of dozens killed by criminal gangs who exploit the mining sector to empower Maduro. Make no mistake – this is a murderous, criminal regime.
— Michael G. Kozak (@WHAAsstSecty) November 24, 2019
Indigenous groups living near the mining sites are forced to work against their will as miners. Even those not made to work as miners are exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in their water supply, according to a recent report released by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
Mining companies have illegally taken over indigenous land to expand the mining arc, thereby displacing indigenous peoples.
And human traffickers prey upon mining communities, especially targeting indigenous women and girls, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2020 Trafficking In Persons Report.
“We need to protect [the] indigenous population. [The regime’s gold] is blood gold,” Guaidó said in January at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Beyond abuse in the mining communities, the Maduro regime continues to try to repress the democratic rights of the indigenous community. The Maduro-controlled National Electoral Council recently changed the constitutionally enshrined voting rights of indigenous Venezuelans, making it more difficult for them to participate in their democracy.
The National Assembly was quick to condemn these actions, as was the Amazonian Parliament.
Both parties urged indigenous Venezuelans to “declare civil disobedience in the face of this abuse against their civil and political rights.”