- Title: U.N. urges Venezuela to dismantle criminal gangs running gold, bauxite mines
- Date: 15th July 2020
- Summary: TUMEREMO, BOLIVAR, VENEZUELA (FILE - OCTOBER 17, 2018) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RELATIVES OF KILLED MINERS BLOCKING ROAD TO PROTEST THEIR DEATHS
- Embargoed: 29th July 2020 16:48
- Keywords: Geneva United Nations Venezuela mines rights
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / BOLIVAR STATE AND TUMEREMO, BOLIVAR, VENEZUELA
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / BOLIVAR STATE AND TUMEREMO, BOLIVAR, VENEZUELA
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Government/Politics,United Nations
- Reuters ID: LVA003CMX87D3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: FILE OF VENEZUELA MINES AND FAMILIES OF KILLED MINERS ARE GENERAL AND NOT CONFIRMED TO BE RELATED TO MINES IN QUESTION
Some gold, diamond and bauxite mines in the Venezuelan Amazon are largely controlled by criminal gangs who exploit, beat and even kill workers, a United Nations investigation has found.
Venezuelan security and military forces fail to prevent crimes and have participated in some violence against miners, the U.N. human rights office said in a report on Wednesday (July 15).
Deputy U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif presented the findings on the area known as the Orinoco Mining Arc to the Human Rights Council on Wednesday (July 15).
"A large portion of mining activities remain under the control of organised criminal or armed elements that impose their own rules through violence and extortion," she said.
Venezuela's ambassador, Jorge Valero, rejected the report in a speech that did not specifically mention mining.
The U.N. report said that 149 people were reported to have died in or around the mines from March 2016 to 2020, with security forces implicated in half of the incidents, adding that the government had not replied to its request for information.
The miners, who include young children, lack employment contracts and are exposed to mercury contamination and malaria, the report said.
It called for the government of President Nicolas Maduro to regularize mining activities and ensure that they meet international legal and environmental standards.
Created by a government decree in 2016, the area of some 42,800 square miles (111,000 sq km) in the Venezuelan Amazon is equivalent to 12 per cent of national territory.
Gold, diamonds, coltan, iron and bauxite are mined.
Venezuela's central bank has not published data on gold and mineral exports since 2018, the report said.
The Maduro government has supported small-scale mining since 2016 to bring in revenue amid an economic crisis. Operations have expanded as the United States has increased sanctions.
(Production: Cecile Mantovani)
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
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