On Sept. 25, the Yanomami national organization, HORONAMI, issued its final public statement on the matter of illegal Brazilian miners in the Upper Ocamo region of Venezuela.
While the allegations of a massacre have now been dropped, HORONAMI wishes to make it clear that it rejects claims that ‘all is well’ in the region. As such, HORONAMI is reiterating its call for “a more careful and extensive investigation into possible acts of violence and other possible abuses of the garimpeiros in the Upper Ocamo region”.
HORONAMI goes on to explain the risks that garimpeiros pose to the Yanomami and the land they rely on. In addition to abuses and threats, there is the possibility of the outsiders spreading disease (something the Yanonami have experienced in recent history) and degrading the environment with their machinery and their use of mercury to extract gold.
In light of these very real risks, HORONAMI is also requesting a “permanent and sustained patrol for the final eviction of illegal mining camps in the Upper Ocamo and other areas of the Upper Orinoco, as Hashimu, Cerro Delgado Chalbaud and Siapa River, among others. This must be a joint effort set between the Bolivarian Armed Forces and our Yanomami organization Horonami, since we know our people and our territory.”
The 16-point statement further rejects ongoing efforts to internally divide the organization, to link it to opposition actors and to exploit their previous allegations. To be sure, the Yanomami are elated that Venezuela found no evidence of a massacre during their investigation.
Specifically, HORONAMI states:
We do not want to attack our President Hugo Chavez Frias, nor do we want our situation to be manipulated as an electoral episode. The truth is what we have to show, and our motivation is the defense of our people, our habitat and our land which is being seriously pillaged and polluted. We request that the Venezuelan State respect our Horonami Organization; we express our total willingness to collaborate with the government agencies to solve this matter. We reject the attempts of the Minister Nicia Maldonado to divide our organization and we repudiate the mass media and other people who have manipulated the information for political purposes, trying to link us with opposition actors, taking advantage of this serious situation for electioneering purposes.
HORONAMI’s final statement concludes with a message for all mass media actors: “We will not give further statements, we want that the mass media to refer just to the content of this document.”