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From: "SchNEWS" (
To: "SchNEWS Subscribers"
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 1998 16:09:19 +0000
Subject: SchNEWS 180, 21 August 1998

Imataca pylon protest (Venezuela)


1,000 Pemon Indians of the Imataca and Gran Sabana regions of Venezuela are blockading the only highway between Venezuela and Brazil. They are trying to stop a 120 kilometre high voltage electrical line being built through their rainforest homeland. 50 National Guard are on the scene and telephone communications from the region are being blocked.

At the beginning of the month in Caracas, a coalition of environmental organisations and university students marched in solidarity with the indigenous protesters in a march timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It was the third time in a week that the highway has been closed. The blockades began in July, protesters suspended the blockades after the government agreed to meet with indigenous leaders. But blockades began again with protesters saying, "... the government sent representatives with no real decision-making power."

In May 1997 the Venezuelan government signed a decree which opens up 40% of the Imataca Forest Reserve, an area of 3.6million hecates of diverse tropical forest to mining. About 10,000 Indians live in the reserve but were never consulted about the decrees and are worried that their land will be targeted by mining and loggers and that their small scale cooperative mining will be affected. The Pemon live mainly from their gardens supplemented by hunting and fishing. Palm trees provide housing materials and fruit. Some villages have set up small scale tourism. The Pemon came into sustained contact with national society in the 1920's but have so far successfully kept their own language and way of life.

For more information, contact -

Survival International
11-15 Emerald Street
London WC1N 3QL
telephone: 0171 242 1441


road protests 1998   |   road protests (current)   |   movement links