Tarek William Saab, Venezuela’s attorney general, held a press conference today in which he confirmed the deaths of eight people in the remote community of Ikabaru in Bolivar state on November 22. Saab said that the killings took place as part of a power struggle over illegal gold mining in the area.
Saab described the killings in the following way:
A group of people who apparently belonged to a criminal gang (…) entered the Ikabaru community and opened fire on a group of people who were at an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, killing eight of them and wounding another.
Saab also confirmed initial reports that one of the victims as a member of the National Guard, a sergeant. He also added that another one of the victims was a teenager.
Eight people have been arrested in connection with the case.
Venezuela’s southern region–including Bolivar state–has been the site of bloody fighting for years, as the Maduro regime has focused its attention on exploiting mineral deposits in the region. The regime calls this region the Arco Minero, and the gold rush that its exploit has spawned bloody fights for mines involving criminal gangs, guerrilla groups, and even Venezuelan government forces.
Maduro Hopeful for 2020
Speaking during an event that brought together Venezuelan Evangelical leaders, Maduro spoke about his hopes for 2020, saying that he believed the year would be a good one for the country.
… Venezuela [today] is united and looking towards the future. We should focus our prayers and visualize a 2020 in which our families, our communities are together.
In light of the religious nature of the event, Maduro also spoke on his own personal religious convictions, saying:
I believe in prayer a lot and I think that we should look for results, because Venezuela is a great country and the evil from the north has not been able to overcome the love of the people.
During the same event, Maduro announced the creation of the Venezuelan Evangelical University of Theology, which he hoped would attract “Evangelicals from around Latin America” to the country.
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