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The Venezuelan Ministers of Mining Ecological Development, Víctor Cano, and Indigenous Peoples, Aloha Núñez, met with 15 captains from the Pemón tribe and, according to state media, reiterated that it is illegal to carry out mining activities in national parks.

According to official outlets, the Indigenous leaders from the southeastern Gran Sabana municipality presented Cano and Núñez with complaints regarding environmental debts that have been dragged for decades and concerns regarding the boundaries of the Orinoco Mining Arc.

“The Pemón people ratified their commitment to boost the reorganization process of mining operations south of the Orinoco river and rejected the environmental debt that illegal mining has created. They also agreed on doubling efforts to protect nature,” Cano is quoted as saying.

According to the mining minister, the Orinoco Mining Arc was created to confine mining activities to a specific area and safeguard national parks and other protected areas.

His words, however, contradict a recent report by human rights group Kapé-Kapé who denounced that illegal mining is rampant in and around the controversial Mining Arc of the Orinoco River National Development Strategic Zone, which is a 111,843 square-kilometre concession area that is equivalent to 12.2% of the country’s landmass and where gold, diamond, iron ore, copper, bauxite, coltan, among other resources are allowed to be mined.

Such artisanal and unregulated operations -Kapé-Kapé reports- are polluting the Carrao river and its tributaries within the Canaima National Park, in the southern Bolívar state and which is the traditional territory of the Pemón. They are also affecting the Imataca forest reserve, the biosphere reserve of the High Orinoco, the Yapacana National Park and El Caura National Park.

Kapé-Kapé said that even though artisanal gold mining has been taking place in the Bolívar state for...

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