The indigenous Venezuelan WayĂșu community, residents of the Socuy, Mache and CachirĂ river basins in the PerijĂĄ Mountains, opposed the sale of their traditional territory - ensuring their forced displacement - by the Venezuelan Government to national and International coal mining companies.TRADUZIONI : italiano
The indigenous Venezuelan WayĂșu community, residents of the Socuy, Mache and CachirĂ river basins in the PerijĂĄ Mountains, opposed the sale of their territory by the Venezuelan Government to the national and International coal mining companies.
In the Venezuelan State of Zulia bordering Colombia, the national company CorpoZulia, controlled by the Energy Ministry, was involved in coal extraction for years.
The investment for exploiting coal mines came from a group of foreign coal companies that, in order to carry out the project, obtained concessions on over 240,000 hectares of land.
The project, apart from the exploitation of mines, envisaged the construction of five coal ports and a transport network of road, rail and waterways.
The Zulia State was extracting coal for 15 years, yet still exporting tens of tons of coal annually. Scientific studies made in order to analyse and quantify the socio-cultural, economic and environmental impacts of the extraction activities provided alarming data regarding the environmental and social consequences of the regional mining projects, including:
Implementation of coal extraction projects resulted in the forced displacement of indigenous WayĂșu communities from their traditional land. They suffered social dispersion with serious long term consequences for the community, who lost their houses and traditional ways of living;
People in direct contact with mining sites over many years suffered serious health problems, many coal worker developed pneumoconiosis. The communities closest to ports suffered from serious incidences of respiratory diseases;
Environmentally, residues from mining activities polluted the soil and surface water sources. This affected agriculture, livestock breeding and fishing, as well as part of communities capacity to guarantee their subsistence living;
Coal residues contaminated water intended for domestic use. Local residents suffered cases of bacterial infection, as well as respiratory and skin problems, while communities overall health situation worsened;
Yearly car accidents more than doubled due to the presence of heavy goods lorries that worked without breaks in order to transport coal to the port of Lago Maracaibo;
The Faculty of Science and Engineering at Zulia University analysed water effluent from the Guasare River and Sinamaica Lake, both close to mines, and found the presence of heavy metals produced by coal extraction.
December 2003: Representatives of a large number of social and environmental organisations meet in front of the Corpozulia headquarters, in Maracaibo, expressing their concerns about the intention of multinationals to expand the coalfield in the Zulia region, based on the Western Development Axis plan.
March 2005: Hundreds of indigenous WayĂșu people from different communities in Cachiri, the Mara municipality of northern Zulia State, alongside representatives of indigenous BarĂ people living in the PerijĂ Mountains and other natives of the Maracaibo and San Francisco communities, organise a protest rally at the offices of the âCaĂ±o Secoâ coal company âCaĂ±o Secoâ, in northern Maracaibo.
March 2005: An indigenous March in Caracas against mining megaprojects is supported by huge local participation.
June 2005: The WayĂșu and Yukpa indigenous communities hold a protest rally in front of the Ministry of Defence and Miraflores Palace in Caracas, to denounce human rights violations and the forced displacement of their ancestral land by coal companies as well as the threats to re-possess their lands by force.
June 2005: The National Association for Free and Alternative Media (ANMCLA) calls a press conference with delegates from the WayĂșu, CachirĂŹ and Yukpas communities, to denounce the Government silence on the matter.
October 2006: Numerous Carbozulia officials, accompanied by members of the Venezuelan Army, raid the Marcos Sergio Godoy WayĂșu community, during the "National Meeting for Territories, Indigenous Autonomy and Dignity" held by indigenous communities in Zulia, together with indigenous rights groups from the States of Trujillo, TĂĄchira and MĂ©rida.
March 2007: The indigenous WayĂșu community, together with indigenous communities from Yukpa and BarĂ, hold a public meeting to denounce the forced displacement of indigenous families from their traditional territories by the Venezuelan Government and multinational coal companies.
Venezuela Gobiernos Locales y Pueblos IndĂgenas. Quispe, Maria Teresa. Iwgia. 2005
MinerĂa. Impactos sociales y ambientales. World Rainforest Movement. 2004