Venezuela: massacre reported at wildcat mine

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro on March 9 ordered creation of a "Special Military Zone" in the so-called Orinoco Mineral Arc following reports of a massacre of at least 28 at a mining camp in the region. The order came after survivors and kin of the disappeared miners blocked roads connecting the remote region with the city of Tumeremo to demand action. Witnesses said the camp, in Sifontes municipality, was seized by armed men who gunned down the workers, dismembered their bodies with a buzz-saw, then forced survivors to load the remains in a truck which drove off into the jungle. "We won't rest until we find those responsible for these acts, which in the eyes of all Venezuelans are abominable," said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino. But Bolívar state Gov. Francisco Rangel of the ruling PSUV was assailed by miners and the opposition for denying that any massacre had taken place. "So far there's not any indication of any person killed or missing," he said March 7, three days after the reports first broke. "What happened there, according to the security forces, was another clash between armed gangs that are trying to control mining activities in the area." (InfoBae, March 9; BBC News, March 8; InfoBae, March 7)

  1. Venezuela: 18 dead as troops retake wildcat mine

    At least 18, including one woman, were killed as troops of Venezuela's 51st Jungle Infantry Brigade seized control of an illegal mining operation at Cicapra de Guasipati, Roscio municipality, Bolívar state. Five assault rifles were confiscated in the raid. The slain woman, not named, was believed to be the boss of the operation, who took control of the illegal outfit after her brother was assassinated by rivals. (El Nacional, Feb. 11)