One hand of the government of Nicolás Maduro does not even know what the other hand does in Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony that Morocco illegally annexed itself in 1975. While the Chavismo pledges solidarity to the Saharawi pro-independence movement of the Polisario Front, the Venezuelan state's petrochemical companies continue to buy from the invader valuable phosphate cargoes extracted from mines in the occupied territories.
It is one of the so-called "rare earth elements" and a strategic material for high-tech industry. It abounds in the south of Venezuela, next to the border with Colombia. And although the Venezuelan government announced in 2009 measures for the military control of the deposits, since then, international smuggling routes have flourished, in which drug trafficking and informal traders participate. In a climate of mystery, now the Venezuelan coltan also threatens to become a source of geopolitical conflicts.