Indigenous leader who opposed illegal mining killed in Venezuela

Indigenous leader who opposed illegal mining killed in Venezuela
# 01 July 2022 22:55 (UTC +04:00)

A Venezuelan indigenous leader who was an opponent of armed groups and illegal mining was shot dead on Thursday in the Amazonas state capital, a non-governmental organization and three people with knowledge of the case said, APA reports citing Reuters.

Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a 38-year-old indigenous Uwottuja man, was a defender of the Venezuelan Amazon and had set up community groups to act as guardians of the Autana municipality of Amazonas.

"In life, Trujillo Arana strongly opposed the presence of foreign groups and illegal mining exploitation in the indigenous territories of the Uwottuja people, in the Alto Guayapo area," indigenous rights NGO A.C Kape Kape wrote on Twitter.

The Uwottuja community is made up of about 15,000 people.

Non-governmental organizations and a United Nations report have denounced the presence of violent criminal groups that control gold mines in the jungle.

The Ministry of Communication and Information and the Prosecutor's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Communities from the town of Uwottuja announced last February their decision to defend their territory against a "silent invasion" by criminal groups, rejecting illegal mining exploitation as well as the use of their land for illicit activities.

Mining has been prohibited since 1989 in Venezuela's southern Amazonas state, which is not part of the so-called Arco Minero, a gold exploitation zone 111,000 square km created by decree in 2016 by the government of President Nicolas Maduro covering.

The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has asked the government to regularize mining activities and guarantee that they are carried out under international and environmental standards.