A days long military incursion took the miners of Sierra Imataca, in Tumeremo, in the south of Bolívar State, by surprise.
By Pableysa Ostos / Correspondent lapatilla.com
Even though the mines are several kilometers from the town, the people of the town were aware of what was happening.
They had heard the complaints of the miners, many protests have been developing and thy had even experienced the closure of the shops for more than 24 hours.
But this Friday, October 28th, what they thought was happening miles from their homes, was felt very early in the streets of Tumeremo.
Military units and various security agencies passed through the place. Some officials stationed themselves on certain corners of the town with weapons drawn and ready.
Meanwhile, the thunderous sound of helicopters and Sukoi planes forced the inhabitants of Tumeremo to look up in terror at the sky.
The comments come and go from house to house, from business to business, but nobody knows for sure what is going on.
A military source told the La Patilla team that “it is the beginning of a military operation. It is estimated that in the next few hours, GJ Domingo Antonio Hernández Lárez, Operational Strategic Commander of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Ceofanb) will travel to the site.”
On the Instagram account of the “Bolívar Integral Defense Operational Zone” (ZODI-Bolívar), it was published that the operations are being carried out to “fight drug trafficking, human trafficking and illegal mining in Bolívar State.”
“Venezuela is a territory of peace, the FANB (Bolivarian National Armed Force) will continue to be the guarantor of our independence and our freedom. It will not allow the existence of armed paramilitary groups that violate the rule of law in the country,” it stated in a post on one its social network accounts.
It is worth remembering that this is the second military incursion in less than three months in the Sifontes Municipality.
Abuses and Outrages
An inhabitant of the town, located in the Sifontes Municipality, pointed out that “everything is militarized. There are APCs, armored cars, convoys, planes, helicopters, everything. These military operations have been carried out only for a few days, but they have intensified the arrival of military units and other organizations.”
“What is presumed is that they will make military incursions into the different Tumeremo mines. They are going into different sectors around here, carrying out raids without any kind of court order. Stopping and running over people. There are checkpoints at the entrances of every neighborhood, the people are frightened,” denounced the person.
In the midst of the confusion that currently exists in the mining area, those affected question the procedure, because “they entered the Sierra Imataca mine claiming that it is illegal”, an unfounded argument, since all the equipment that is carried for the different mines have to be bought compulsorily at the Venezuelan Mining Corporation (CVM), where they ask for the transfer and transport permits for these equipment for the different mines.
“In every checkpoint there is CVM (Venezuelan Mining Corporation, a government office) staff, who review the transport and transfer permits they issue, that is, their origin. One cannot explain how the military says that illegal mining is being carried out when the CVM authorizes the transfer of all this equipment to the different mines. This is somewhat contradictory,” denounced an affected neighbor.
Payments to the CVM
They state categorically that all mining supplies must be purchased from the Venezuelan Mining Corporation (CVM).
“A tax is paid for the transfer of this equipment. Apart from that, the miner pays for a supply and transport plan to the CVM. Everything goes to the CVM in a defined route in every zone. It is illogical that the military forces come to destroy the equipment that has been legally purchased from the CVM, which belongs to the State.”
“They are not respecting the integrity of anyone. In Sierra Imataca they burned even the Christian church, as well as the house of the communal council, which is legally constituted before the Ministry of the Communes. They burned everything, alleging illegal mining. But if the CVM is giving the mobilization guides (permits) and the transport plan is paid, they are endorsing all those spaces as legal, as well as the miners,” they added.
The Towns Protest
For their part, this Friday, October 28th, the small miners from the town of Nacupay in El Callao, also in the south of Bolívar state, staged a protest.
“Today we are meeting to rejecting the abuses and outrages being carried out by the military forces, especially the Orinoco Mining Arc Protection Group (GPAMO) for the past several days. Harassing small-scale mining workers, which is leading us to bankruptcy.”
In the population of “El Dorado” they are also alert to the situation to join the protests that are taking place in other towns.
Less than 10 days ago, both in Tumeremo and El Dorado, merchants held a demonstration they called “zero hour.”
“From here we urge the authorities, all the competent government entities, President Nicolás Maduro and the attorney general, Tarek William Saab, and all the powers to stop the abuses and the violation of human rights that the people of these towns are suffering today in southern Venezuela,” denounced a spokeswoman for El Dorado in the Sifontes Municipality.
“They are running over the mining population, burning their personal belongings and work equipment. They are not even respecting the figure of the communal council, which is legally constituted,” they denounced.