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Indigenous leader who denounced illegal mining in Venezuela is assassinated, according to activists

An indigenous leader who denounced illegal mining and the presence of irregular armed groups in Venezuela He was murdered, human rights activists reported Friday.

Virgilio Trujillo Arana38, and a member of the Uwottuja indigenous people, died of gunshot wounds on Thursday in Puerto Ayacucho, capital of Amazonas state (border with Brazil and Colombia), according to those reports.

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The Observatory for the Defense of Life (ODEVIDA), which includes organizations that promote human rights in Venezuela, Colombia and Peru, expressed in a statement “great concern” about the crime and stressed that Trujillo Arana it was fighting to “keep its territory free from mineral extraction and from the presence of irregular Colombian guerrilla forces operating in the area.”

Between 2013 and 2021, ODEVIDA documented the murder of 32 indigenous leaders and environmental activists in Venezuela, 21 victims of “mining assassins” and 11 at the hands of military “effectives”.

“The authorities have already started the investigations and so far they have not reported a motive,” the NGO Kape Kape, which defends indigenous rights, published on its Twitter account.

Trujillo AranaAccording to this organization, he was shot twice in a neighborhood of Puerto Ayacucho, while other press versions indicate that there were three shots, “all to the head.”

Authorities have not released information on the case.

ODEVIDA demanded “guarantee a prompt and effective investigation and reparation, punishing those responsible for this murder that shocks the family of the victim and the indigenous communities affected by the violence of non-state actors that prevails in their ancestral territories.”

He also asked to comply with a decree in force since 1989 that “establishes the prohibition of all mining activity in the state of Amazonas”.

In recent years, the neighboring state of Bolívar has been the scene of violence linked to illegal mining mafias in the Orinoco Mining Arc, an extensive region in southern Venezuela rich in gold and other minerals such as iron or coltan.

The UN Human Rights Office has warned about the situation in the area, which has left more than 150 dead since 2016.

Several organizations also denounce the operation in border areas of dissidents from the dissolved FARC guerrilla (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and ELN (National Liberation Army) combatants, as well as armed criminal groups.

Source: Elcomercio

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