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¨Chavez, the helicopters do work¨

By Aleksander Boyd

Punta de Mata 05.10.06 – All walls of La Paragua are covered with graffiti with remarks as the one above. The miners here are in a state of absolute rage. Some two weeks ago a group of approximately 20 army men on board a Russian helicopter flew over a mining area nearby and, from the air, ordered miners to stop working and to lay on the ground or else they would be killed. Shocked by such threat the miners complied, not before some shots were fired. Upon landing the military opened fire killing 5 of them instantly. The only survivor relates that he moved after being shot once. The army men noticed that he was still alive, so they shot him at close range a second time after which he kept still until there was silence. With two bullet wounds he walked for about 3 hours until indigenous tribesmen saved him. 4 other miners were forced into the river and ordered to remain under water or else they would be killed. They are still unaccounted for. In total 23 miners are dead or missing. Thus far the only authority that has visited the area is Brazil´s Vice Consul for 2 Brazilian miners were killed.

This massacre has left more than human loss in its path. 26 kilos of gold are reportedly missing. Rudimentary mining, as done here, is an extraordinarily physical enterprise that has to be performed under very harsh conditions. I can attest to that for once upon a time I worked nearly six months in a diamond mine known as La Farisca. For that reason I can only sympathize with the families of the miners and people who depend on this activity for not only they have lost relatives in this most horrendous crime but also the product of their work that was stolen by thugs operating within the military.

Locals say that more than 8 months have passed since the Mayor´s last visit. After the massacre no official from the Chavez administration has come. In the meanwhile Hugo Chavez and other officials of his regime have stated that this is a clear case of abuse of force on the part of the military. Alas these declarations have a stench of hypocrisy. El Universal carries today some quotes of Hugo Chavez whereby he proudly boasts about the relationship between the military and the Venezuelan people. Furthermore Chavez said ¨the republic´s weapons are now in the hands of the people and people are aware that´s it´s only thanks to the Bolivarian revolution.¨ What a deranged fellow…

Francis Rodriguez, concubine of one miner, begs to differ thoug. She said that the army has taken control of another mining area know as El Colorado and is threatening to burn those who refuse to abandon the mine. ¨They (the military) are nothing but a bunch of assassins and thieves. Those helicopters and weapons that Chavez got are used against us, to kill our men¨ she concluded.

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