Survivors of Brazil's 1993 Haximu massacre hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives. Goldminers killed 16 Yanomami in the attack.

Dozens of Indigenous People Allegedly Killed by Gold Miners in Venezuela

Barbara Fraser

Illegal gold miners from Brazil may have killed dozens of Yanomami people in a remote area of the Venezuelan Amazon, according to reports from an indigenous organization there.

In a letter directed to government officials, the Horonami Yanomami Organization called for an investigation of reports that miners invaded the community of Irotatheri, in the district of Alto Orinoco, “killing most of the members of the community, consisting of approximately 80 people, using firearms and possibly explosives.”

The Venezuelan government formed a task force to investigate, according to a statement issued by the Public Ministry.

The Yanomami live on both sides of the Venezuelan-Brazilian border.

Three survivors, who were in the forest at the time of the attack, reported hearing the sound of gunshots, explosions and a helicopter, which may have transported the miners, according to the letter from the Horonami Yanomami Organization. It said that members of another community, who went to visit Irotatheri, found the three survivors and saw charred bodies and the remains of a communal house, which had been burned.

Illegal Gold Minors

The Horonami Yanomami Organization called on the Venezuelan government to send investigators to Irotatheri and to work with Brazilian authorities to evict illegal miners and monitor the area.

The organization’s letter is dated August 27, but the attack apparently occurred in early July. Puerto Ayacucho, the largest town in the area, is more than two weeks on foot from the Yanomami reserve, according to the Public Ministry statement.

In the letter, the organization said it informed the Army post in Puerto Ayacucho of the attack in late July, and a commission of representatives from the organization, the Army and the Amazonian Center for Research and Control of Tropical Diseases (Centro Amazónico de Investigación y Control de Enfermedades Tropicales, CAICET) traveled to the community of Momoi in mid-August to interview witnesses.

The Horonami Yanomami Organization said there have been reports of illegal gold mining in the area for the past four years, including reports of Indigenous Peoples being recruited to work in mining. Abuse of women has also been reported.

If confirmed, the attack would be the latest in a series of confrontations between Yanomami communities and illegal gold miners along the Venezuelan-Brazilian border. The Horonami Yanomami Organization reported that several members of the community of Momoi died in 2009, allegedly of mercury poisoning from drinking water polluted by gold miners. Members of the community of Hokomawe also reported hostility from gold miners in 2010.

In 1993, gold miners killed 16 Yanomami, mainly women, children and elderly people, in the community of Haximú, in Brazil.

As the price of gold has soared on international markets in recent years, illegal mining has spread throughout the Amazon basin. Government control of the remote mining sites is lax, but Brazil has carried out some military operations against miners along its borders. One such operation reportedly occurred in early July.

“This is another appalling tragedy for the Yanomami – heaping crime upon crime,” Stephen Corry, director of the indigenous rights group Survival International, said in a statement. “All Amazonian governments must stop the rampant illegal mining, logging and settlement in indigenous territories. It inevitably leads to massacres of Indian men, women and children. The Venezuelan authorities must now bring the killers to swift justice, and send a signal throughout the region that Indians can no longer be killed with impunity. The mining and logging must be stopped.”

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valeria's picture
Submitted by valeria on
To begin with - the MAJORITY of the 588 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean - even among those who are "white" or "black" have some indigenous ancestry, are integrated indigenous (since generations - as most Mexicans), or indigenous living in their own communities. Simply: In 500 years the overwhelming majority of Europeans and Africans - who came to Latin America and the Caribbean were MEN. Very few women came from Europe or Africa: At the beginning of virtually all families, and throughout the generations were indigenous women. Thus, the attidute of most Latin Americans towards indigenous still residing in their communities - is NOT a racial differentiation, but socio-cultural: The indigenous remaining in their communities are seen as backwards - often with unacceptable traditions such as infanticide (also male-dominated) See: SANDRA TERENA BREAKING THE SILENCE, a campaign by educated indigenous to end infanticide. --- There are many problems remaining both in Brazil and Venezuela and other nations in South America - for the indigenous remaining in their communal settings. But the resolution gets complicated by "Iraq-Afghanistan" style propaganda campaigns by the U.S. and NATO that use the indigenous problems in South America to destablizie the ethnic unity within each nation and to paralyse the development projects in order to deprive the national economy of the means for NEW SOCIAL PROGRAMS (as those now under attack in the USA as "entitlements"). --- The Yanomami have an enormous reservation in Brazil on the border of Venezuela - and the U.S.and Britain have a geopolitical operations since a couple of decades to use the Yanomami in order to break the national sovereignity of Brazil by means of an "autonomous" entity under "international protection" (read: U.S. 4th Fleet, re-established 2008 aber de-activation in 1946). Would the CIA, Britain's MI6, or Germany's BND (the most likely!) - "propitiate" an indidence in the zone of the Yanomami - just now 60 days before the elections in Venezuela and in view of Brazil's inclusion of Venezuela in MERCOSUR - which is opposed by the U.S. ? Brazil's best remembered anthropologist warned about the U.S. operations to infiltrate the Yanomamis - in 1992 - see youtube PROFECIA ORLANDO VILLAS BOAS

valeria's picture
Submitted by valeria on
Is it an "operation" timed 60 days before the election in Venezuela. The re-election of President Chavez would secure Venezuela's joining the MERCOSUR - with neighbour Brazil... Both Chavez and MERCOSUR - are opposed by the U.S. The "interest" of the U.S. for "operations" in the Yanomami region in Brazil - was already described in 1992 by Brazil's legendary ethnologist Orlando Villas Boas, see youtube PROFECIA ORLANDO VILLAS BOAS. --- The U.S. is believed to aim for an "autonomous" Yanomami region in Brazil on the border of Brazil- under the "protection" of the "international community" (read: U.S. SOUTHCOM and U.S. 4th Fleet). The "massacre" could be like the fake "Gulf of Tonking Incident" 1964 which gave the pretense for the Vietnam War, or the "Atomic cloud" of Iraq in 2002...

valeria's picture
Submitted by valeria on
Sept.13. 2012: For the record - the "massacre" has now been revealed as a hoax prompted by a feud between two villages, which was promptly distorted by de facto agents in the area that are linked - to what many in South America consider - "foreign" NGOs (U.S. and British) which are acting as geopolitical agents to prepare international public opinion for the need of "international intervention" - in the future. Venezuela's Minister(Secretary) of Indigenous Peoples, Nicia Maldonado, herself a Ye'kuana "Indian" (535,000 Venezuelans are indigenous), went to the village Irotatheri - were all was normal and spoke on "Telesur" TV from the village. --One version reported by AP: Nissam Madi, a sociologist/anthropologist (see his books on net), who resides in the area, explained: On July 2, a hunting group of Yanomamis from one village were ambushed by Yanomamis from a rival village. Three of the hunter were killed, and one from their village developed the idea for the "massacre" story in order to attract the intervention of the military with a 'helicopter' to scare the Yanomamis of the rival village. Nissam Madi explained that such feuds are common in the region. "Survival International" - aptly located in London, also got contacted by one of those Yanomamis who is active in an indigenous organization founded and sponsored 2011 by Venezuela's Ministry of Indigenous Peoples. But importantly - since the end of the 1980's - mysterious "adventurers" from Germany (without any background in anthropology or ethnology, or academic education) penetrated the Yanomami areas in Brazil and Venezuela - and then converted their romantic adventures into a "careers" as "indigenous rights advocates". What is not known is whether German, British or U.S. intelligence had already established a relationship with them through NGOs, or whether they were then developed, again through NGOs (such as "Survival International" as de facto geopolitical agents to drive the governments of Brazil and Venezuela into the image as incompetend to protect its indigenous citizens - and thus justifying interference by the "international community" into the relationship between national society and specific ethnic indigenous groups in Brazil and Venezuela. 2012, the U.S. insists on expanding NATO into the South Atlantic - which Brazil opposes .See: "Fundacao Konrad Adenauer Rio" scroll for reports "Conferencia Seguranca Forte Copacabana" for 2010 and 2011 - there are English language versions. Also the warning 2002 by Brazil's anthropologist Orlando Villa Boas about U.S. plans to separate a "Yanomami autonomy" from Brazil and Venezuela, to be protected by the "international communitry" see video "Profecia Orlando Villas Boas". A list of "foreign" NGOs analysed as propagandists against Brazil's development projects, see "Conversa Afiada Abin ONGs" --Thus, the geopolitical "soft war" of the U.S., Britain and Germany (as NATO partners) against Brazil and Venezuela (who resist NATO control) - involves the Yanomamis in Brazil and Venezuela. The former Director of Brazil's intelligence in the Amazon region, writes in his blog : "While the U.S. and NATO remain tied up in the Near East - they can't bother us here in South America!" ---