Venezuela: Amazon indigenous protest mining law

Meeting June 2 in Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas state, Venezuela's Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of Amazonas (COIAM) issued a statement protesting President Nicolás Maduro's Decree No. 841 of March 20, which creates a commission to oversee bringing illegal gold-miners in the rainforest region under government control. The program falls under the Second Socialist Plan for the Nation, charting development objectives from 2013 through 2019, with an emphasis on the "Orinico Mineral Arc." But the mining has caused grave ecological, cultural and health impacts on the Yanomami and other indigenous peoples of the area. COIAM is demanding a moratorium on all mineral activity in the Guayana administraive region, which covers the southern Orinoco basin in Amazonas and the adjacent states of Bolívar and Delta Amacuro. (See map.) (Sociedad Homo et Natura, June 9; COIAM, June 2; Survival International, Nov. 7, 2013)

On June 17, President Maduro announced the removal of Planning Minister Jorge Giordani, seen as the main driver of economic controls over industry imposed a decade ago by the late President Hugo Chávez. Giordani will be replaced by the Minister of Higher Education, the geographer Ricardo Menéndez. The sacking of Giordani, known as "The Monk," came days after the minister of Petroleum and Mining and president of state oil company PDVSA, Rafael Ramírez, suggested a number of changes including expansion of oil sales to the United States. (Havana Times, June 18)