Indigenous leader who denounced illegal mining is killed in Venezuela

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A Venezuelan indigenous leader who opposed armed groups and illegal mining was shot dead on Thursday (30) in Puerto Ayacucho, capital of Amazonas, a non-governmental organization and three people with knowledge of the case said.

Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a 38-year-old Uwottuja indigenous man, was a defender of the Venezuelan Amazon and had formed community groups to act as guardians of the municipality of Autana, in Amazonas.

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“In life, Trujillo Arana strongly opposed the presence of foreign groups and the illegal exploitation of mining in the indigenous territories of the Uwottuja people, in the Alto Guayapo area,” the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) for indigenous rights wrote on Twitter.

The community of Uwottuja is made up of around 15,000 people.

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NGOs and a United Nations report denounced the presence of violent criminal groups that control gold mines in the jungle.

The Ministry of Communication and Information and the Public Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Communities in the city of Uwottuja announced last February their decision to defend their territory against a “silent invasion” by criminal groups, rejecting illegal mining exploitation as well as the use of their land for illicit activities.

Mining has been banned since 1989 in the southern Venezuelan state of Amazonas, which is not part of the so-called Arco Minero, a 111,000-square-kilometer gold exploration zone created by decree in 2016 by the government of President Nicolás Maduro covering it.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called on the government to regularize mining activities and ensure they are carried out in accordance with international and environmental standards.

Source: CNN Brasil

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