Venezuelan indigenous organizations express ‘deep pain’ 20 years after massacre

Yanomami Indians hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives killed in the Haximu massacre
Yanomami Indians hold urns containing the ashes of their relatives killed in the Haximu massacre
© C Zacquini/Survival

The Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of Amazonas State (COIAM) in Venezuela, and the Venezuelan Yanomami organization Horonami have released a declaration marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 16 Yanomami Indians, in the community of Haximu close to the Brazilian border.

The declaration expresses the Indians’ ‘deep pain’ resulting from the death of their Yanomami relatives in 1993 at the hands of Brazilian gold-miners, and warns of the growing number of illegal miners who continue to operate on their land, bringing disease and increasing the possibility of new conflict.

The organizations describe the presence of mining camps in remote areas of the Yanomami territory, which bring disastrous consequences for the communities by exposing them to diseases and violence, polluting their rivers with mercury, and producing other social and environmental problems.

They state that Horonami has alerted the authorities to the presence of illegal miners on their land, demanding that urgent measures are taken to prevent the invasions. But no action has been taken to this effect.

The declaration also states that the alleged massacre which was reported to have occurred in September 2012 in Irothateri community, although unconfirmed, led to the emergence of evidence of gold-miners working in the region.

The organizations demand that the Venezuelan government complies with the bi-national agreement signed soon after Haximu, in the presence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in which Brazil and Venezuela agreed to implement ‘a combined and permanent protection plan to monitor and control the entry of illegal gold-miners into the Yanomami territory’.

See the full declaration here (in Spanish).