ColombiaOne.comColombia newsVenezuela Expels More than 60 Colombian Illegal Mine Workers

Venezuela Expels More than 60 Colombian Illegal Mine Workers


Colombian ilegal mining Venezuela
Venezuela expels more than 60 Colombian illegal mining workers – Credit: Midia Ninja / CC BY-SA 4.0

More than 60 Colombians working in an illegal mine located in the Venezuelan Amazon have been expelled by members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), as informed this Monday by the strategic operational commander of the military institution, Domingo Hernandez. The decision comes after last week’s accident in the illegal mine known as Bulla Loca, which caused several deaths in Venezuela and resulted in the evacuation of 523 people.

The military explained that the people who were evicted were using mining rafts and were causing “serious damage to the vegetation layer and to the beds of the hydrographic basins in national parks”.

Expulsion of foreigners and more than 500 evacuees

“More than 60 illegal miners of Colombian nationality have been evacuated from the Alto Orinoco municipality, Amazonas state, by the FANB to the department of Guainía, in Colombia, for illegal stay and for being found, in flagrante delicto, destroying national ecosystems with various illegal open-pit mining activities,” Hernandez wrote in his social networks.

“To date, the FANB and OSC (civil society organization) have evicted 523 people from Caura National Park, who were arbitrarily and in flagrant violation of the law carrying out open-pit mining operations in contravention of the territorial order”, added the Venezuelan military officer.

Colombians in illegal mining in Venezuela

In June 2023, the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office stated that close to 7,000 Colombians were at risk of being deported for working in illegal gold mines located in the Cerro Yapacana National Park, in the state of Amazonas. At that time, the Ombudsman, Carlos Camargo, asked the governmental entities to create a “contingency plan due to a possible deportation or eventual return” of the Colombians.

The communiqué warned of the presence of armed groups in the area, whose “work, direct or indirect, exposes the workers to a violation of fundamental rights”. In addition, the operations of the Venezuelan armed forces have allegedly put the welfare of the workers and their families at risk.

This illicit activity has proliferated in this area of Venezuela. In fact, in one of Commander Hernandez’s comments, the NGO SOS Orinoco has called for the dismantling of another illegal mine near the one that collapsed with dire consequences last Thursday.

In 2023, the Venezuelan government implemented an eviction plan in the south of the country that culminated in the expulsion of more than 10,000 illegal miners, according to official figures, after President Nicolas Maduro ordered the military to engage in a “battle to clean up” the Venezuelan portion of the Amazon.

Illegal mining consumes the Amazon

The Amazon, a land of rich cultural and natural diversity, is being devastated by the gold rush. This metal, once revered by many indigenous peoples as the embodiment of the sun on earth, now poses a threat to their territories and the very survival of the rainforest in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, six nations that share South America’s vast Amazon region.

The “Plundered Amazon” report reveals the existence of 2,312 sites with illegal mining activity and 245 unauthorized extraction areas where resources such as gold, diamonds and coltan are exploited. This information has been integrated into an interactive map that allows detailed exploration of each of these sites. The data collected comes from satellite images, testimonies from local indigenous communities, reports from environmental organizations and media reports.

The rapid expansion of illegal mining in the Amazon is triggering an unprecedented environmental and humanitarian crisis. Deforestation, river and soil contamination, and loss of biodiversity are some of the most alarming consequences of this predatory activity. In addition, indigenous peoples who depend on the forest for their livelihoods face violence, displacement and the loss of their ancestral rights.

Colombian ilegal mining Venezuela
Map showing the more than two thousand points located in illegal mining in Amazonas – Credit: Info Amazon

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