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Indigenous Self-Defense Groups Rise in Southern Venezuela

The Aboriginal resistance celebrated on October 12 has had for the last four years a new expression in Musukpa, on the banks of the Paragua river, state of Bolívar. Natives of various ethnic groups, led by the Pemones, organized themselves to disarm the military forces and confront criminal gangs that seek to control the gold deposits in the area, which is now practically liberated territory. But not a utopia.

10/10/2015 15:01:40

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It was a hot Thursday afternoon, and nobody really thought about solemnities as a declaration of independence. A group of about 600 indigenous people from thirteen communities on the banks of the Paragua River subdued a group of soldiers, who were armed, but far outnumbered: they were just 22 members. It had been a month since the soldiers had evicted nearly 3,000 miners who were illegally exploiting the vein from the site, the Toronó gold mine. But after their pyrrhic triumph, the troops had left their vigilance and patrolling duties to dedicate themselves, with rolled up trousers and mining boots, to using for their own benefit the hydraulic pumps that the intruders left abandoned.

Turned by greed in miners, it was easy to reduce the Army's troops, members of the 507th Battalion of Special Forces. The natives, superior in number and determination, surprised them sunk in the mud to their knees and with the motor-pumps on. They were disarmed and tied up. Only the group's commanding officer, a Lieutenant Gutierrez, and a soldier, managed to escape the attack.