Indigenous leader who fought illegal mining is killed in Venezuela, says NGO

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A Venezuelan indigenous leader who opposed armed groups and illegal mining was shot dead on Thursday (30) in the capital of the state of Amazonas, Venezuela, 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,” wrote indigenous rights NGO AC Kape Kape on Twitter.

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

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Kape Kape director general Armando Obdola told Reuters that Trujillo had received threats for his activism and that the case echoed the murders of environmental and social activists in neighboring Colombia.

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

“Virgilio accompanied the Armed Forces as a territorial guard during operations in areas where there are irregular groups,” Obdola said, adding that there are other leaders in hiding who fear for their lives.

The Ministry of Communication and Information and the Venezuelan Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: CNN Brasil

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