The Pemón indigenous nation of Venezuela denounces the massacre that killed at least 8 people on tribal lands Friday night, November 22, 2019. The Venezuelan Program of Education and Action in Human Rights (PROVEA), a Venezuelan human rights NGO, reported that a heavily armed group of men dressed in black descended quickly on the village of Ikabarú, in Pemón Sector No. 7 in the Gran Sabana Municipality, Bolivar State.
The intruders in black arrived at 7:00 PM, quickly shot and killed a National Guard (GNB) soldier in front of a small business owned by a citizen Dani Tomedes. Then the armed group shot seven civilians while other villagers fled in total chaos. One of the dead was a teenage boy who ran from the scene and warned others, but succumbed to his head wound. The NGO Foro Penal counted seven dead (not including the GNB soldier) whereas Provea identified at least three more dead.
Before we at the Mises-Mambi Institute had been able to see the information published by PROVEA over the weekend following the massacre, we were able to confirm with National Assemblyman Romel Guzamana, the Chief of the Pemón Nation, that the massacre had indeed occurred in Ikabarú. Little is known about the armed group that carried out the murders. PROVEA identified them as “el Sindicato del Ciego” (the Blind Man’s Union) and specified that they showed up to take over the local gold mine.
With the exception of the National Guard soldier, all seven civilian victims are understood to be Pemón tribesmen. The soldier was likely present in the village because of two reasons. First, Ikabarú is a mining town, and troops often get stationed in the area for keeping order since there is growing and violent competition among Colombian and Venezuelan gangs and guerrilla groups for occupying gold mines in the mineral-rich border area.
Second, the Pemón reservation has been under military occupation by the Maduro regime’s armed forces since February of this year, shortly after the Pemón tribal government defected in mass to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela. The February massacre of Pemón tribesmen was carried out by convict-soldiers under the leadership of Prisons Minister Iris Varela and CLAP National Coordinator Freddy Bernal. (See the video at the bottom of this article.)
Almost nothing is known about the “Blind Man’s Union” other than the name ‘sindicato del ciego‘ that has never been published before the November 22 massacre made the Spanish-language news. Since guerrilla armies, paramilitary groups, and criminal gangs from both sides of the border have exploited indigenous lands for years, it’s possible that the Blind Man’s Union may simply be a front group to mask the identity of the mine’s new owner. After all, just last month Maduro announced that he would be assigning one gold mine to every chavista governorship in Venezuela in order to be able to finance their state governments and make payroll.
Interim President Juan Guaidó condemned the massacre in a comment on Saturday, also blaming the Maduro regime for handing over mineral-rich territories to armed groups. It’s no secret that the Maduro regime has been working with the FARC and ELN guerrilla armies of Colombia, both of which are officially Marxist and both of which self-finance through organized crime. Back in July, Maduro openly invited fugitive FARC commanders to Venezuela on live television. Publicly, Maduro and Hugo Chavez both legitimized these guerrilla armies and their ideological goal for making Colombia a Marxist state. Privately, Chavez wanted the FARC to flood the United States with cheap cocaine to destabilize the country. Today, Chavez needs these guerrilla groups and the other drug trafficking groups in the borderlands to produce and smuggle drugs for him as head of the Suns Cartel. Friedrich von Schrötter once commented that “Prussia was not a country with an army, but an army with a country.” In that same sense, Venezuela under Maduro is not a county with drug cartels, but one large drug cartel with diverse components that happens to have a country.
Despite Guaidó being correct in Maduro’s partnership with these armed groups, hte Interim President is no innocent angel; most Venezuelans have already seen the photos of Guaidó posing in a border-area smuggler’s path with leaders of the Colombian paramilitary group Los Rastrojos, another group that uses some light political ideology to legitimize it drug and kidnapping rackets. The Rastrojos are currently on negative terms with the Maduro regime but are also key trading allies of the Marxist ELN.
The ones caught in the middle are the indigenous Venezuelans. These civilians are usually regarded as little more than human capital in someone else’s operation, whether it’s slave labor in a gold mine for a left wing guerrilla group, slave labor in the coca fields for a right wing paramilitary group, or being punished by the Maduro regime for recognizing the wrong man as President of Venezuela.
Featured image courtesy of El Nacional