Caos y violencia de la minería ilegal del oro en Venezuela (Fotos)

Mar 19, 2017 12:55 pm
Publicado en: Destacados, Nacionales
A man works at a stone crusher machine in a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
A man works at a stone crusher machine in a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Con la linterna en su frente, Ender se mueve ágilmente en la oscuridad del túnel. Unas piedras se desprenden y rompen el silencio. A 30 metros bajo tierra, se halla en el submundo de caos y violencia de la minería ilegal del oro en Venezuela.

Por Maria Isabel Sanchez / AFP

Hace bochorno y un ligero olor a gases emana de las galerías. “No me da miedo”, dice desde el hoyo donde ya la perforación encontró agua. Ender Moreno es minero desde los 10 años y a sus 18, delgado, cubierto de lodo, sin camisa y descalzo, se ve siéndolo “hasta que muera”.

Pero la vida en las minas del oriente venezolano, en el estado Bolívar, no sólo es dura sino peligrosa. Mineros baleados, apuñalados o descuartizados aparecen con frecuencia en medio de una anárquica guerra entre bandas de mafiosos que, con fusiles R-15, FAL y AK-47, disputan el control de los yacimientos.

Los tiroteos en los pueblos mineros son corrientes. Hace dos semanas mataron a tres jóvenes en el barrio de Ender. Un día antes, había estado con ellos bailando en el carnaval de El Callao, aldea ubicada 850 km al sureste de Caracas, donde en 1870 empezó la fiebre del oro en Venezuela.

“Eran mineros, pero se habían volteado con los malandros (mafias)”, contó luego de salir del cilindro negro, haciéndose oír entre el estruendo de la sierra con que dos hombres cortaban madera para asegurar la tierra floja del foso.

A gold miner with a pan on his head walks along one of the main avenues of El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
A gold miner with a pan on his head walks along one of the main avenues of El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Allí, en la mina La Culebra, llamada así por sus vetas sinuosas, trabaja Ender entre un grupo de mineros del sector La Ramona -en las afueras de El Callao-, a cuyo líder mataron hace un año por resistirse a las mafias.

“Cada quien en su territorio”

A pocos kilómetros, Argenis Tarazona, de 47 años, trabaja en una mina a cielo abierto en Nacupay, una de las más violentas de la zona y con mayor impacto ambiental.

Unos socavan en el río contaminado, otros lavan con mercurio el material en las bateas y algunos descansan en hamacas en las casuchas de plástico negro donde viven.

Es tierra de nadie. Todos temen hablar de esas bandas que imponen el orden a punta de miedo y a quienes los mineros, los molinos de piedras y las bodegas (pequeñas tiendas), deben pagar regularmente la “vacuna”, como llaman a la extorsión.

“Uno se acostumbra. El que se come la luz (viola las reglas), el que roba, lo matan o le dan una paliza. Aquí hay un grupo, no entra otro. Cada quien tiene su territorio”, describe Argenis.

Los mineros afirman que “a las minas se entra, pero no se sabe si se sale vivo”. La masacre de 28 obreros hace un año en Tumeremo, vecino de El Callao, está fresca en la memoria de los pobladores.

“Los guardias entran de vez en cuando, pero ellos (los delincuentes) andan tranquilos. Es como si fuera un gobierno paralelo”, asegura otro minero bajo anonimato, sobre la corrupción de militares y policías.

Venezuela producía legalmente 14,7 toneladas de oro en 2006 y en 2015 menos de una tonelada (de un total mundial de 3.000).

Según Luis Rojas, presidente de la Cámara Minera, del 85% al 90% de la producción “es ilegal, principalmente bajo control de mafias”. El gobierno impulsa un plan para reactivar la explotación.

Fiebre de oro

Armados de picos, palas y cinceles, cargando sus bateas como sombrero, hombres y mujeres desbordan diariamente los camiones hacia las minas. Muchos otros, incluso con familia, duermen en campamentos maltrechos.

Jorge Sanchez, 24, shows a gold stone at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Jorge Sanchez, 24, shows a gold stone at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Son unos 50.000, según Rojas, que llegan de toda Venezuela empujados por el alza en los precios del oro en un contexto de profunda crisis económica causada por el desplome de las cotizaciones del petróleo.

Poco importa si se es obrero o profesional. Argenis dejó hace tres años su trabajo de mecánico industrial y a sus cinco hijos en Guaracaro, Bolívar. “Uno arriesga la vida, pero mi profesión no me daba para que comieran y estudiaran”, aseguró.

Cuando les va mal, dicen los mineros, sacan unos 260.000 bolívares al mes -95 dólares en el mercado negro o cuatro veces el salario mínimo-, pero pueden incluso llegar a un millón (360 dólares) o más.

Bajo un rústico cobertizo de madera, al que se llega por callejuelas de barro, Jorge Sánchez tritura y lava su material en un molino de La Ramona. Sacos de piedra y una semana de trabajo con su hermano quedarán reducidos a pequeñas porciones del codiciado mineral.

La expectativa enciende su rostro veinteañero. Las llamas de un soplete hacen aparecer el tono dorado del metal. Orgulloso, muestra luego en su mano morena la pepita de 10,35 gramos.

Por cada gramo le darán 90.000 bolívares (33 dólares) en las casas de compra de oro que abundan en estos pueblos de calles polvorientas.

Retando a la muerte

Para los mineros todo vale la pena.

Poco importan los padecimientos de la malaria que ataca sin clemencia en las minas, cuyos pozos son criaderos gigantes del mosquito transmisor de esta enfermedad que dejó 232.000 nuevos casos en el país en 2016, según la Sociedad Venezolana de Salud Pública.

“¡No queda otra!. Como caletero (estibador) no podía mantener a tres hijos. Llegué hace cuatro meses, pese a los riesgos. Ahora les mando 150.000 mensuales (55 dólares)”, dice Gilberto Urrieta, de 32 años, en la fila de mineros demacrados que van a examinarse al centro antimalaria de Tumeremo.

Aunque Venezuela ya había erradicado la enfermedad hace medio siglo, 18 de los 24 estados hoy tienen la epidemia, propagada por la población minera flotante.

A man weighs a gold stone at a specialized store in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
A man weighs a gold stone at a specialized store in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Para Jorge, la minería es un reto a la muerte: “Nos mata un derrumbe, la malaria o los malandros. He visto morir a varios. La mina no es para todo el mundo”.

Ender está convencido de que es para él. “Dejé la escuela por la mina. Mi mamá dice que esto no es vida, pero no puedo dejarla porque con eso la ayudo. A mi papá ni lo conozco”, confiesa.

Su sueño es tener un molino. “Estoy muy joven, quiero disfrutar la vida; pero a todos les llega la hora. Uno se muere y ya sabe pa’donde va”, dice mientras vuelve a hundirse en la soledad del socavón. AFP

 

Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the banks of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the banks of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017.  AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Jorge Sanchez, 24, works with the mixture in a stone crusher machine in a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Jorge Sanchez, 24, works with the mixture in a stone crusher machine in a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

A worker descends into an underground gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
A worker descends into an underground gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Ender Moreno descends into La Culebra underground gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Ender Moreno descends into La Culebra underground gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

A worker melts a gold-mercury amalgam to extract the gold, at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
A worker melts a gold-mercury amalgam to extract the gold, at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017.  AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

View of a sign reading "We buy gold" in a street of El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
View of a sign reading “We buy gold” in a street of El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Men sit outside a store reading "We buy gold" in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Men sit outside a store reading “We buy gold” in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Gold miners with pans on their heads walk along one of the main streets in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Gold miners with pans on their heads walk along one of the main streets in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold stones at La Culebra gold mine, in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Ender Moreno looks for gold stones at La Culebra gold mine, in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Ender Moreno shows stones laced with gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Ender Moreno shows stones laced with gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Men hold gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Men hold gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Jorge Sanchez, 24, shows a gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Jorge Sanchez, 24, shows a gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

A man sits outside a store reading "We buy gold" in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
A man sits outside a store reading “We buy gold” in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017.
 AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

A gold stone is weighed at a specialized store in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
A gold stone is weighed at a specialized store in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the bank of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the banks of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Men work at Nacupay gold mine on the banks of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Jorge Sanchez, 24, shows a gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Jorge Sanchez, 24, shows a gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO

 

A man works with the mixture in a stone crusher machine at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
A man works with the mixture in a stone crusher machine at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

A man holds a gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
A man holds a gold-mercury amalgam at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Men work at a gold mine on the banks of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Men work at a gold mine on the banks of a river in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 24, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno drops down into La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno drops down into La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno descends looking for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno descends looking for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
Ender Moreno looks for gold at La Culebra gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on March 1, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

A man shows a gold stone at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
A man shows a gold stone at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

A worker scrapes gold-mercury amalgam from an aluminium sheet at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
A worker scrapes gold-mercury amalgam from an aluminium sheet at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 

A worker scrapes gold-mercury amalgam from an aluminium sheet at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. Although life in the mines of eastern Venezuela is hard and dangerous, tens of thousands from all over the country head for the mines daily in overcrowded trucks, pushed by the rise in gold prices and by the severe economic crisis affecting the country, aggravated recently by the drop in oil prices. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ
A worker scrapes gold-mercury amalgam from an aluminium sheet at a gold mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, southeastern Venezuela on February 25, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Maria Isabel SANCHEZ

 




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