76ºF

Venezuela's attacks on Pemón indigenous tribe continue near Brazil, activists say

After massacre, members of indigenous tribe hide in jungle, activists say

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

BOLIVAR, Venezuela – A Venezuelan opposition lawmaker, who is open about his eagerness to oust embattled President Nicolas Maduro, reported members of the Venezuelan National Police are still terrorizing civilians in Venezuela's southern state of Bolivar, at the border with Brazil. 

Américo De Grazia, the member of the National Assembly who represents the state of Bolivar and is a fierce supporter of opposition leader Jaun Guaidó, is denouncing Maduro's second-in-command, Diosdado Cabello, who is wanted in the U.S. for drug trafficking. 

De Grazia also reported two military helicopters picked up the bodies of the 15 people who doctors at the Hospital Rosario Vera Zurita, in Bolivar's border town of Santa Elena De Uairén, pronounced dead after Saturday's protests. 

"They have militarized the hospital," De Grazia wrote on Tuesday. "What are they hiding? What are they afraid of?"

According to De Grazia, the military's relentless pursuit of the Pemón indigenous tribe includes extrajudicial killings, detentions and raids. The communities of the tribe of over 30,000 live in a territory that covers areas of Venezuela's state of Bolivar, Brazil and Guyana. 

Officials and human rights activists are investigating a massacre at Bolivar's town of Kumarakapay.

Alfredo Perez, a member of the Pemón indigenous tribe who remains hospitalized, told Venezuela's 15 Minutos News on Monday that he was guarding the community of Kumarakapay on Friday when the military showed up about 2 a.m. and started shooting at unarmed civilians about four hours later.  

"We wanted to speak to a general, but they didn't want anything and they were shooting and killing people that way," Perez said in Spanish, adding that he was among the seven wounded. "They were just shooting, so a woman fell down and died. There were a lot of children scared because they continued to throw tear gas in the community."

Zoraida Rodriguez, a mother who worked as a street food vendor, was identified as the woman who was killed during the shooting. Protesters were asking the military to stay away from the Brazilian border with Venezuela and to allow the humanitarian aid to access the country. 

Alfredo Romero, a Venezuelan attorney with Foro Penal, told reporters  Monday that the raids had continued over the weekend. His organization is researching the relevance of international treaties related to the protection of indigenous populations.

According to activists with Apetoy, an environmental nongovernmental organization, and Foro Penal, a  human rights organization, members of the Pemón indigenous tribe were hiding in fear. Venezuelan attorney Gonzalo Himiob told reporters this situation made it difficult for human rights activists to identify all of the cases of human rights violations at Kamarakapay.

"The majority of the people who were not arrested or wounded are hiding in the jungle," Himiob said. 

On Tuesday, another human rights organization in Venezuela reported that Venezuelan authorities arbitrarily detained Michi DaSilva, the president of the chamber of commerce of Santa Elena de Uairén.  

Records obtained by Caraota Digital showed that Venezuela's minister of defense, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, signed an order on Monday to remove the commander of Bolivar's National Guard, José Miguel Montoya, and replace him with General Alirio Jose Cruz Ortega. 

 


About the Author: