About a Massacre

What happened in Tumeremo: your daily briefing for Tuesday, March 8, 2016.


For Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Quinta Paila

It’s been 27 years since the massacre at El Amparo. The event is seared into my memory because during those months, we were doing a Confirmation course and father Matías Camuñas asked us to hold a vigil for the victims. What he didn’t tell us is that some of the survivors would be there. Like all of these events, the vigil went on with songs and prayers. Past midnight, we heard several gunshots against the church’s building.

Many neighbors kept the record of the yellow patrol vehicles used by the DISIP – a bizarre facsimile of New York’s famous cabs. It’s been 27 years of impunity, of disrespect for the victims’ rights, of their right to free themselves from the role they were given to justify the massacre: fishermen turned guerrilleros.

Atenas, the mine

The alleged murder of 28 miners in Tumeremo (South East of the country, near the border with Brazil) is reminiscent of the massacre at El Amparo. The difference lies in the illegality of mining in general: from extraction to this massacre.

It’s tough to read the testimonies of relatives accepting their loved ones’ deaths, convinced that there will be no justice, but demanding their bodies so they can bury them.

The opacity in the handling the whole affair, as well as the amount of murders, is somewhat similar to Ayotzinapa, a massacre that shook Latin American journalism. This sad precedent had an effect on how international media treated the news about the miners.

Francisco Rangel Gómez, governor of Bolívar, had to back down on his original statements denying the event: today he admitted that something had happened.

They say that a joint committee between the police and the army is carrying out the investigation; that the Prosecutor’s Office has appointed attorneys already, that the Ombudsman’s Office also sent a committee. But there’s no trace of the miners.

The people from Correo del Caroní have prepared a detailed chronicle of how events unfold. The pressure from relatives and neighbors forced the authorities to change their tune, at least, but I insist, the illegal nature of the job and its conditions, and that of the whole system in which it’s practiced, makes people fear reprisals – whether from criminals or the government – if they formalize their reports and testimonies.

What we know

Relatives blame El Topo, a criminal gang which controls mining operations in the area. Presumably there are survivors of the massacre who say that CICPC and SEBIN officers stopped miners on a road checkpoint operating during Friday, and then shot at them.

Deputy Américo de Grazia has condemned the miners’ disappearance, saying that an event of this magnitude could’ve only happened with the complicity of authorities. Relatives fear that, once the initial shock passes, authorities will “leave it like that” again. The alleged massacre will be the first point of discussion during this Tuesday’s National Assembly meeting.

On and on about the decree

This Monday, the Armed Forces issued a statement about the extension of the decree that marks Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to United States security, declaring “their profound indignation and absolute condemnation of such an unfortunate and absurd decision.” According to them, the U.S., with their military power, shouldn’t consider anyone a threat, and doing so is an evidence of meddling, imperialism, disrespect and lack of “political logic.”

In fact, Tareck William Saab was even more emphatic in condemning the decree, than in demanding a fast investigation on the alleged massacre of Tumeremo. Speaking of smoke screens.

Joining efforts

A group of former Latin American and Spanish presidents requested the OAS this Monday to apply the Inter American Democratic Charter on Venezuela to resolve the country’s institutional crisis: “We urge the Organization of American States, and the Secretary General of the OAS in particular, to urgently take any initiatives he finds pertinent within the scope of the Inter American Democratic Charter.” This request supports the one made last Thursday by the MUD’s caucus in the National Assembly.

Patricio Walker, president of the Chilean senate, announced that he would propose the creation of an international parliamentary front to support Venezuelan democracy, to demand the Government to respect Parliament’s legitimacy. This international front will also demand the release of political prisoners. Appropriate, considering that Manuel Rosales’ preliminary hearing took place today. He’ll be tried for the crimes he’s accused of and during the trial, he’ll remain in El Helicoide’s prison.


Water rationing, frequent power outages, a sudden increment of the transportation fee -from Bs. 20 to Bs. 40- and the shortage of food and medicines, keep causing protests around the country. If the Government decided to focus half of the effort they’ve dedicated to Obama’s decree, in solving any of these issues, our situation would be different. Inflation rates keep rising and no salary increase will help shorten the price gaps that grow weekly for almost every product. It’s absurd.

Add it up with the fact that there have been 924 violent deaths only in Greater Caracas in the first two months of 2016, a number that breaks our own record for the past seven years, confirming our sad ranking as the world’s most violent city. But you know, the government’s propaganda machine mustn’t stop highlighting commemorative events for el finado. Quinta república, quinta paila.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. I can hear the Chavista excuse the in the 4th the adecos killed a lot more people than them..so they still represent a better government..

    Chavista: ..no si los adecos y copeyanos mataron gente como arroz, donde dejas a los guerrilleros y el 27 de febrero y la Masacre del Amparo. Nosostros ni siquiera matamaos tantos en el desastre de la Guaira y bueno esta gente de Tumeremo eso no se sabe, pa mi fue el hampa…y si fue el gobierno todavia es menos que los que uds mataron…

  2. Some months ago spanish tv showed a documentary shot by a team of spanish documentary makers who traveled to Guayana to investigate gold mining in that part of Venezuela , the documentary contained a lot of in situ interview with miners and other people connected with the activity, their testimony was graphic and revealing:

    1. Most if not all mining is done not by companies but by groups of mining ‘syndicates’ composed of groups of small time miners who having taking possesion of a mine defend their possesion of it with guns and violence ……and who work under the protection of an influential national guard officer or group of officers who guarantee that the gold once mined can be brought out and sold in the out side world .

    2. Although access to the main mining areas is closed to ordinary people by armed GNB , their officers will allow connected miners to get in and to their job , there are some maverick associations that work outside the circles of protected GNB mafias . they live under the threat of aninhilation by armed mafias .

    3. The whole activitiy is organized as a criminal activity …….very little of the extracted gold is reported to the govt authorities …

    Having seen the documentary the murder of these unfortunate miners comes as no surprise ..it was clear from the documentary that the area was totally lawless and subject only to the authority of the mafia bosses in the NGB and their associates.

    • Before, the gold went to finance the Adecos, now it’s in the hands of local warlords/chieftains–so much for gold/diamonds/coltan/et. al. being substitutes for oil as foreign exchange earners for the good of the Country/Pueblo….

  3. I just can’t imagine the money’s worth wading through all that mercury and whatnot. I wonder how much of a take the protection racket gets. …how much the buyers get the gold at a discount, etc.. Are they making more than they would make as employees of a streamlined, mechanized mining operation?

        • Yes, but, we’re talking about criminals here, venezuelan criminals, who aren’t very bright to begin with.

          You see, it’s cheaper to force slaves than to buy expensive machinery, slaves just need some thug pointing a gun at them, thugs are cheaper than engineers after all, and bullets are even cheaper.

          Criminals don’t care if they end killing their golden egg fowl, they’ll suck it dry, then move to suck something else, you’ve seen it with chavismo against Venezuela, they don’t care if the people die or if the land gets destroyed, the only thing they care is to fill their pockets with dollars, while the thugs they command only care about how they can have the pleasure to kill somebody else.

          And even in the bottom tier, that one with the used napkins, those are there just because it feeds them their ego, thinking that “the rich are suffering now”, the maniacal delusion the corpse planted on them.

    • http://www.oas.org/charter/docs/resolution1_en_p4.htm

      Article 20

      In the event of an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state, any member state or the Secretary General may request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to undertake a collective assessment of the situation and to take such decisions as it deems appropriate.

      The Permanent Council, depending on the situation, may undertake the necessary diplomatic initiatives, including good offices, to foster the restoration of democracy.

      If such diplomatic initiatives prove unsuccessful, or if the urgency of the situation so warrants, the Permanent Council shall immediately convene a special session of the General Assembly. The General Assembly will adopt the decisions it deems appropriate, including the undertaking of diplomatic initiatives, in accordance with the Charter of the Organization, international law, and the provisions of this Democratic Charter.

      The necessary diplomatic initiatives, including good offices, to foster the restoration of democracy, will continue during the process.

      Article 21

      When the special session of the General Assembly determines that there has been an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order of a member state, and that diplomatic initiatives have failed, the special session shall take the decision to suspend said member state from the exercise of its right to participate in the OAS by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the member states in accordance with the Charter of the OAS. The suspension shall take effect immediately.

      The suspended member state shall continue to fulfill its obligations to the Organization, in particular its human rights obligations.

      Notwithstanding the suspension of the member state, the Organization will maintain diplomatic initiatives to restore democracy in that state.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here