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A report compiled by the Torino Capital economic firm has made reference to a mining initiative announced on August 5, which is itself an offshoot of another mining initiative announced in February.

The initiative – called Arco Minero, after a region in south-central Venezuela of the same name – involves land that the national government claims contains some of the largest mineral deposits on the planet. With the initiative, the area – which totals about 12.2% of Venezuela – is now open for mining operations. When Maduro announced the initiative last week, he said that 60% of the income earned by the mining operations in the area would go to fund state programs,

Despite the Maduro administration’s assurance that the agreement involves significant investment from international mining organizations, Torino Capital remains skeptical:

Even though the Executive indicated that at least 150 companies would participate in the agreements, only 9 contracts have been signed. Of these, 3 were with international mining companies that we already knew about: Gold Reserve, Energold and Glencore AG. The others, which include Guaniamo Mining, are locals like the Corporacion Faoz, or state-owned like the recently-created military company for mining and oil services.

Overall, the firm called the Arco Minero agreement “disappointing”, and pointed out the fact that the national government estimates the total worth of all contracts would reach $4.5 billion, which is less than Venezuela earned in a single contract with Golden Reserve in February.

NA Warns Initiative is Void

The National Assembly issued a warning to international mining organizations following Maduro’s Arco Minero announcement last week, saying that the initiative is unconstitutional because the National Assembly does not recognize it.

Deputy Americo De Grazia explained the National Assembly’s position, saying:

No contract that involves the public interest signed by the country can take effect if it is not ratified by the legislative branch, which means that this joke that Maduro has played is unconstitutional.

De Grazia said that land that Maduro opened up for exploitation – which totals approximately 11.1 million hectarescontains at least 12 indigenous ethnicities an is incredibly rich in biological diversity.

De Grazia’s statement comes at the same time that former Minister of the Environment Ana Elisa Osorio filed a motion before the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) calling for the top court to halt the initiative, calling it “an attack” on the constitution, the environment, worker’s rights, and indigenous peoples.

Academics Decry Lack of Consultation, Concern For Indigenous Groups

Because the Arco Minero includes sections of the Orinoco River and its tributaries, De Grazia pointed out that mining operations in the area would without a doubt affect the Guri reservoir, which provides the vast majority of the country’s electricity. De Grazia said:

We would be putting an end to the Guri reservoir, the most important hydroelectrically plant in the country [and] the Imataca forest reserve with the Caura, Caroni, and Paragua river tributaries. On top of that, we would be putting an end to 118,000 [square] kilometers [sic], which may roll of the tongue but covers an area larger than the Republic of Cuba.

At the same time, a working group out of the Universidad de los Andes issued a statement pointing out that the government did not consult with the indigenous peoples living in the Arco MInero before essentially giving their land away to foreign investors.

The statement reads:

The government has ignored its obligation to consult [with indigenous peoples] as set out in the constitution, and imposes a presidential commission to make unilateral decisions. The first victims of the Arco Minero are the indigenous people. With this measure, the process of extermination continues through another means.

El Nacional reports that nine indigenous groups will be “directly” affected, which are: the Mapoyo, Eñepá, Kariña, Arawak, Akawako, Ye’Kwana, Sanemá y Pemón. According to the newspaper, the national government did not consult with any of the affected peoples prior to making the announcement.

Cabello Makes Open Call For Political Persecution in Gov’t Offices

National Assembly deputy and PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello made a public call for political persecution in state institutions, calling on government agencies to identify and fire any opposition supporter on their pay roll.

Cabello said that “there can be no escualidos [derogatory term for opposition supporter] in any state institution”, and insisted that for the Bolivarian revolution to work it must be staffed exclusively by PSUV supporters. Speaking from an event in Nueva Esparta state, Cabello said:

The people should complain in any state institution where an esucalido exists… Let’s denounce him. Send an e-mail to El Mazo Dando [his TV show] or to myself and I will call him. If his boss doesn’t throw them out, we will.

Rodriguez: Economic Emergency “Undeniable”, But No Humanitarian Crisis

National Assembly PSUV deputy Hector Rodriguez spoke today on United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s statement yesterday on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela by saying that he objected to the word “crisis”, saying:

Let’s not be politically naive. We must be careful with the terms that we use.

In particular, Rodriguez believes that the term “humanitarian crisis” could somehow open the door to United States intervention in Venezuela.

At the same time, Rodriguez said that he does believe that the country is facing economic difficulties, and blamed the opposition for stopping PSUV efforts to fix it. Rodriguez said:

The opposition always hits the brakes on any attempt to find an alternative to oil, and that’s part of the problem. No one has denied that there is an economic emergency. However, we have two options: to fight each other or to work for the Venezuelan people.

Rodriguez also pointed out that countries have economic “highs and lows”, and said that if the opposition was in control the Venezuelan people would be much worse off than they are today.


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