Indigenous Blockade of the Brazil –Venezuela International Road May Continue This Week Pending Meeting

AMAZON WATCH

For more information, contact:

Rania Batrice at +1.510.394.2041 or rania@amazonwatch.org


Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela - The Indigenous Federation of the State of Bolivar said on Friday that hundreds of Pemon Indians are prepared to resume protests over the high voltage power line to Brazil this week pending talks with the Government. Last week, approximately 800 people from five different indigenous tribes blockaded the only road link between Brazil and Venezuela for two days. The blockades were temporarily called off in response to an offer from the Venezuelan government to meet with indigenous leaders.

The Indigenous Federation of the State of Bolivar now says that so far the Venezuelan Government has shown little willingness to resolve the land conflict. There have been two meetings between the parties so far. However the representatives that the Venezuelan Government has sent to these meetings have been without any real decision-making power. The latest meeting included representatives from CVG-EDELCA (the state-owned electric company), the National Agrarian Institute, and the Human Rights Office of the Federal Government. The indigenous leaders say that unless higher-ranking officials agree to come to the table soon, the communities will have little choice than to resume their peaceful protests.

Following last Friday’s meetings, the indigenous leaders asked that another meeting be scheduled on August 5. At this meeting, the indigenous leaders seek the participation of the Minister of Frontier Affairs, the Minster of Agriculture and Livestock, the President of the National Agrarian Institute, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, the President of CVG-EDELCA, the Attorney General of the Republic, the Minister of Energy and Mines, and the Public Prosecutor of the Republic as the mediator. The indigenous peoples expressed their firm stance that the government representatives should come to the indigenous area to meet. Meanwhile, many Pemon, Kariña, Akawiao, and Arawako communities are preparing for another multi-day protest.

The 390-mile power line crosses many indigenous areas and is at this moment is destroying large areas of forests and the principal forms of subsistence for the communities, namely their crops and forest gardens. . Indigenous peoples fear that the power line project will accelerate the destruction of the region’s rainforest by enabling large-scale mining operations in the Imataca Forest Reserve. The indigenous peoples are demanding that construction works on the power line be immediately halted until the Venezuelan Government legally recognizes the rights of the indigenous peoples over their ancestral lands.

The Federation of Indigenous Peoples of the State of Bolivar is holding a press briefing for Monday, August 3 at 10:30 am at the El Mirador de Angostura Restaurant located on Paseo Orinoco, in Ciudad Bolivar.

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