Girish Gupta’s dissection of the Santa Elena de Uairén-to-Georgetown diamond trafficking route in Time is well worth a read:
Underground traffickers agree. “You’d have to be blind to believe” that the Kimberly Process is doing its job in Venezuela, says the Santa Elena trader. “It’s a little bit more difficult now [since the KP was established in 2003] to smuggle and certify the diamonds. But we do.”
It starts at the mines themselves. The town of Icabarú is one clandestine mining hub near the border with Brazil – a bumpy, four-hour drive from Santa Elena through the Gran Sabana, an otherworldly stretch of savannah, jungle and flat-topped tepui mountains that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World. Icabarú’s lush vegetation also hides the misery of child miners. At one site, an 11-year-old boy beats the orange earth with an axe, the spray from a hose soaking his grimy clothes as he works under an unrelenting sun alongside his father.
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