The story that has been unfolding in the mining region of Bolivar state is yet a new low for the bolivarian regime. all corruptions, all abuses, all cruelty seem to have somehow managed to meet there.
I am not going to go into details. the executive summary is as follow.
Legal mining in Bolivar state has been progressively edged out under Chavez. What should have been organized gold search production ended up as illegal mining controlled by mafias and protected by the corrupt military of the area (who among other business controlled supply, gas contraband, etc.). And possibly Colombian guerrilla in Amazonas state.
The result has been what could one expect, and worse.
First, the are has become an ecological disaster as once pristine rivers straight out of the jungle where only a handful of natives lived are now containing mercury. The deforestation over a soil which has a difficult regeneration because it is a thin narrow layer of biomass (old ancient rock hard terrain) has been denounced repeatedly without any response form the authorities while the regime promoted its ecological brand, supported by many idiots in Europe and the US. Amen of the damage to the terrain itself through reckless wash out without any attempt as consolidation of the remains. Even the great national park that contains the highest water fall of the world is under threat.
Second, the human cost has been terrible. Never mention the garimpeiros coming from Brazil. Let's just focus on what has become a mere form of XXI century indented labor of all of these people forced to purchase supplies from military/gangs approved suppliers. It has been years since the locals and the Native Americans have been protesting, sometimes very actively. But no matter what may have been agreed the army went back to all its associations with thugs for their common racketeering business.
So, it thus came to pass. As the level of oil went down, so went down miscellaneous subsidies and so went down revenues from the illegal mining area. Gang wars got worse and last week relatives reported the disparation of 28 miners, yet to be found. But tales of massacre by some survivors are now vox populi. The regime through its governor delayed quite a lot in accepting that there was a problem even going as far as saying that it was yet another media manipulation, even though the relatives were blocking in anger the main road to the South of the country.
The political problem here is that beyond the almost certain fact the the gang of El Topo did the deed, the ultimate guilt rests squarely at the feet of the Venezuelan Army for allowing all that traffic and to the feet of Bolivar governor, former military pal of Chavez, Rangel Gomez.
So, since this is now a political problem the regime has done what it knows best, condemn in another kangaroo trial the editor owner of the lone opposition paper of the area, Correo del Caroni, which has been following closely all the violence and corruption in the state. It is noteworthy that the trial had been dormant for months and suddenly in a couple of days it was revived and a sentence emitted against the paper in the middle of the night. Note that the people suing the paper for defamation, even though they actually served jail for corruption, are not linked to the mining violence. As it is always the case in Venezuela against the press a case is held languishing until the regime needs a favorable verdict at a given time.
That is why I wrote at the beginning of this blog entry that the mining situation in Bolivar is a microcosm of all that is wrong in Venezuela, from thug gang wars to extortion, from freedom of expression to an official lies system, from corruption to approved genocide. Human rights violations in Bolivar may be the worse in Venezuela, and that is already saying something.
I cite a verse of French poet Aragon
Là-bas où le destin de notre siècle saigne
(over there where our century's fate bleeds)