Venezuela: Yukpa killed in land confrontation

On Aug. 4, Venezuelan army troops and agents of the CICPC special investigative police intervened in a confrontation between indigenous Yukpa residents of Chaktapa village in the restive Sierra de Perijá and local ranchers over disputed lands, leaving one community member dead. The killed man was initially identified as the son of Yukpa cacique (traditional leader) Sabino Romero, whose own murder earlier this year remains unsolved. Subsequent reports based on interviews with Chaktapa residents denied this, but cited villagers as blaming Ganaderos de Machiques (GADEMA), the local ranchers' association, for provokong the conflict. Several village residents have been killed in confrontations with ranchers encoraching on traditional Yukpa lands in recent years. (Apporea, Aug. 4)

Indigenous leaders from throughout Venezuela and South America have responded to the new slaying with an open letter to President Nicolás Maduro uring his intervention to halt the "criminalization and militarization" as a response to struggles for indigenous rights, to respect the "integral, collective and continuous territorial demands" of the Yukpa, and that "the so-called '21st century socialism' also be extended to the Yukpa and the Sierra del Perijá." The letter closes with the slogan "Todos somos Yukpa" (We are all Yukpa). (La Guarura, Aug. 6)

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