Signing an ecocide



For Saturday, August 6, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Signing an ecocide

For Nicolás, the Organic Law for Indigenous Peoples and Communities isn’t worth as much as coltan, gold, or diamonds. The tribes who inhabit the region of the Orinoco Mining Arc haven’t given their informed and voluntary consent, and haven’t exercised their sovereignty over their anweeeejkjjcestral homeland, as the law provides. There’s no mining without deforestation or pollution. The Mining Arc’s exploitation is only justified because the government needs money, with such urgency, that they prefer destruction with a tremendously high present and future cost. Nicolás signed agreements with the company Gold Reserve and claimed to have developed investment over $4,5 billion —promising more agreements for several “billions of dollars more.”

Nicolás believes that signing a decree to send 60% of revenues to the National Fund of Missions (and another to ban mercury exploitation) will ensure that the compensation will get where it’s supposed to. Co-president Vladimir Padrino López said that a special unit has been created to guard the Mining Arc, and that a security and logistical plan for the area will be presented in the next few days. “The Mining Arc represents an ecocide, genocide, and ethnocide because the human, social, political, economic, and environmental rights of a wide region of Bolívar state are being violated,” said AN deputy Américo De Grazia, who will head the mixed committee to investigate events in the area, adding that Nicolás has said that more than 150 companies from 35 countries are interested in investing in the Mining Arc.

A voice with consequences

PSUV keeps Diosdado Cabello as their best pep talker in the tour they’ve been making in parallel to MUD’s. The opposition talks about (when they’re allowed to, it was impossible in Coro this Friday) the urgency of the recall referendum and the impossibility of correcting the issues we’re going through with Nicolás still in power, while the government party demands loyalty before misery, silence about what’s wrong, and love for el finado, to endure what remains, because nothing’s as important as holding onto power.

Some days ago, Diosdado was the fiercest defender of expropriations, and that was enough for Miguel Pérez Abad to be removed from the cabinet and for Eulogio Del Pino to speak like a graduate from the Francisco de Miranda Front. This Thursday in Carabobo, Diosdado demanded an even stronger labor apartheid: removing opposition supporters from the payrolls of public institutions. He also said that they would take what they needed from the local Wholesale Market and early this Friday, governor Francisco Ameliach sent hundreds of National Guard and Carabobo Police officers, as well as officials from the National Superintendence for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights (Sundde) to intervene the market. What they’ve found was predictable: food and basic products, sold at market (unrestricted) prices, unhealthy conditions, and disorder. They want to ensure bigger audiences for Diosdado’s future speeches, while they continue to feed the chaos of this disaster and turn it into achievements with their typical style of propaganda.

Before the world

This Friday, Diosdado criticized the U.S. State Secretary, because according to him, John Kerry’s version of authentic democracy “is to have us crawl at the feet of imperialism.” He dared say that only 600 people actually choose the U.S. president. And thinking that, in Venezuela, scarcely 50 people want to destroy the result of parliamentary elections, causes far more revulsion than his misinformed figures. Mercosur’s temporary presidency’s still being discussed. Paraguay has said that Nicolás “wounded their national feelings,” so they recalled their ambassador in Venezuela for consultation and summoned the Venezuelan ambassador in La Asunción, but Enrique Jara excused himself saying that he was on sick leave. Nicolás’ insult won’t be ignored, that mention of the Triple Alliance was a reference to the XIX century war that decimated the Guaraní people. Uruguay keeps quiet, Argentina’s attention is on Kerry, and Brazil’s, on the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Delcy’s reaction

The Foreign Affairs minister ratified -like Nicolás- that Venezuela will exercise Mercosur’s temporary presidency even if they’re the only members left. Saying that John Kerry’s statements are intemperate, she read a statement written by someone who likes her even less than I do: “Venezuela condemns the triple alliance’s boycott against Bolívar’s land. Three governments’ arbitrarily attempt to regress on our most important integration block,” Delcy emphasized. Every time she says that the rules are clear, that there’s no room for any kind of judicial interpretation, she should lose like 300 hairs for her incoherence.

Between pranes

The conflict within the General Penitentiary of Venezuela (PGV) located in Guárico state, still hasn’t ended. The inmates released 23 out of the 51 hostages, getting part of their demands: 1,380 prisoners, transported to that jail that must pay for la causa. What does la causa mean in prison jargon? The minimum tax that you must pay the pran just for the right to live there. It’s a greatly profitable business and the recent releases from this prison considerably reduced the pran’s income. José Vicente Rangel Ávalos, Peacekeeping Affairs vice-minister, was the negotiator. The inmates expect the transfer of 1,000 more prisoners to end the conflict. Todo bello.


It was impossible for me to post the briefing this Thursday because I was fully enjoying the PechaKucha Caracas, Elecé’s short participation, the chef’s which was beautiful, Manuel Llorens’ which left me all misty-eyed with tears and laughter. Noble stories and ideas for a country that desperately needs them. I made a briefing this Friday with all my spirit bent on watching the opening ceremony at Río 2016. Beside each of the members of the olympic delegations (most of them wore clouds as hats, being over two meters tall) was a boy or a girl with a small plant they’ll use for reforestation. A beautiful message to mitigate the greenhouse effect. Daunting to see Nicolás heading the opposite direction on the same day. Pero seguimos.

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  1. New mining developments are a long way off. It takes years of exploration, various feasibility studies to prove the economics at f mining a deposit and often several years to procur the necessary equipment and develop the site. In most modern countries with strong environmental laws it can take 5 – 7 years from the point of discovery until first production. Las castings is wel advanced but a project of this size will take 3 – 5 years to develop. First thing there is to clear the thousands of illegal/informal miners from the site.

    There is no quick cash infusion for Venezuela. Much of the money will be spent offshore buying equipment. Changes in importation laws and processes need to be changed or the project will never get off the ground.

    Thev150 or so companies that Maduro says want to invest are looking at exploration plays, most of which will never develop into an economic mining operation. Just because there are resources doesn’t mean they are feasible to mine. If the resources are not economic by the foreign companies standards they will not invest anything beyond exploration.

    The mining “engine” of Maduro is not something that will pay off immediately for Venezuela. It will take years. Until they develop clear and reasonable mining laws and there is a straight forward permitting process very little development will occur. There is also a need for well trained local professionals something Venezuela is lacking. Until then most professional staff, geologists, mining engineers metallurgists who understand what ore really is. Ore is material that can be mined for a profit. A concepts that is lost on this current government.

    I speak from experience having worked for 5 years as a professional on the mining sector while Chávez was President.

    • A dose of realism is always needed whenever we are exposed to these ‘grand announcements’ of the regime , I too am aware of the difficulties of actually carrying out a big project , to be mentioned is that sometimes some companies sign a paper to keep a competitor out while fooling the owner of the resource into believing that the investments are just around the corner when their real intent is to ultimately abandon the project . Others sign a paper but are only interested in resellling all or part of the project to somebody else at a profit …….often because they lack the means of developing it by themselves……!!

      • Gold reserve will have difficulty raising the necessary money for development of Las Cristinas. They are a Canadian junior mining company. No doubt they will have to partner with a major player in gold mining. This could be part of the reason for the delay in signing a development agreement with Venezuela. I am not aware of one major company that would step foot in Venezuela right now without guarantees that their investment is safe and that they can repatriate profits. Security concerns also have to be of importance. The country is not very safe for expats right now. There are also countless other concerns that would hinder investment by both foreign and national companies

  2. Only the Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela could turn the settlement of a large and embarrassing award for damages against him into a heralded plan for economic recovery.

    Let’s hope there is not a massacre removing the informal miners from the area. There is negotiation and long term resettlement with incentives, and then there is plomo, live burial and/or drowning. We must have every confidence that a Venezuelan General with economic opportunity in his sights will follow the legal and sustainable options.

  3. “… the XIX century war that decimated the Guaraní people.”

    The War of the Triple Alliance killed well over half the people of Paraguay (where the Guarani live).

    Decimation is only 10%.


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