Friday, 31 August 2012

Crime along the Ocamo river

The Venezuelan minister of Interior and Justice, El Aissami, said the government had already contacted 7 out of 9 Yanomami communities in the Amazonas state and they said everything is fine on their side.

This is a pointless statement, to say the least. Those communities are located in an area, as I mentioned in my previous post, a little bit larger than the Netherlands...but with the densest jungle you can imagine. There are virtually no roads there. The two communities we haven't heard anything yet are the ones about which the Yanomami reported the attack.

It's as if someone had reported an attack on Maastricht and authorities located as far as Glasgow would say people have investigated so far in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem and Middelburg and things are fine there even if Maastricht is still pending.

Those communities are very close to the border. They have never been counted in the Venezuelan census and experts in the area - people I know - are very worried and are sure the attack happened. They just don't know what exactly happened, how many fatalities there were.

This is an area where Alexander von Humboldt had to stop his incredible voyage. It hasn't changed that much since 1800 for the Yanomami or for the Venezuelan authorities, but it has changed a lot for those looking for gold and other riches.


  1. It is impossible to have strict controls over such a vast expanse of forest where the only routes are footpaths, rivers, and isolated landing strips. Gold mining pays for hiring choppers so it is not inconceivable to get a low life operator to participate in crime. Binational cooperation will be necessary for investigating and preventing but several things make this difficult, especially for the Venezuelan side.

    For a Venezuelan Guardia Nacional to be sent to a remote border area is like serving time, the living conditions are dismal. The brazilians enjoy much better conditions. Gold is also a issue as the GN has historically benefited from mining activities. Check points at heliports, landing strips, and roads are simply unofficial toll stations. As long as you pay ... no problem, take in or take out whatever you want. Wildcat mines? Environmental regulations? As long as you pay just keep on processing the paydirt. Corruption within the same institution that supposedly guards the borders and ironically exercises "guarderia ambiental" will be a major obstacle for a successful investigation.

    1. Nebelwald,

      It is impossible to have strict controls over such an area, but the government does so incredibly little there.
      There had been constant warnings about this situation. I posted about it a couple of times.
      Now we have some media to keep track about who is in charge of what where. The government in Caracas should be able to easily find out, with the call of a database, what soldiers and officers were in Alto Orinoco in July.
      They already have a system whereby soldiers are rotated and that is due precisely to this corruption. They should make it completely transparent to other organisations - NGOs and the opposition at the National Assembly -.
      The national government - Chávez won't do it - has to demand OPENLY from the Brazilian government to capture those involved and to prevent illegal miners from roaming the common borders.

      People in Boa Vista should be able to carry out inspections of gold. Venezuelan agents should travel there and be able to verify.


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