The international mainstream media is generally eager to report on stories involving indigenous populations who are being discriminated against or abused by the powerful: governments, multinational corporations, wealthy landowners, farmers, oil pipelines. The Standing Rock protests in North Dakota were a classic example of this. The incident pitted a Native American tribe attempting to protect their ancestral land against the alleged environmental ravages of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a massive project designed to transport oil beneath the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, from the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota to southern Illinois.
The Standing Rock “water protectors”, as they were termed in the media, became a cause celebre on the left, despite a study by the Army Corps of Engineers that found no environmental impact from the project. Indeed, following Trump’s election, the pipeline was completed in 2017, and has run smoothly since. Pipelines are generally the safest and most environmentally friendly means of transporting oil, but that seemed to matter little to the Standing Rock protesters.
The rights of indigenous people are a serious matter, that has only become more controversial during the course of colonialization, industrialization, and the development of the modern nation state.
In the remote Amazonian jungles of southeastern Venezuela, and northern Brazil, the Pemon remain one of the poorest tribes on the South American continent.
For anyone who thinks that the twenty year political project of Chavismo served to further the interests of the poor and weak, the Pemon represent a striking counter-example. They, along with several other indigenous tribes mainly in remote eastern Venezuela, have suffered greatly during the six disastrous years of Maduro’s rule.
Despite the proclamations of an army of pro-Maduro propagandists who deemed the humanitarian aid to be merely a pretext for military invasion, the Pemon enthusiastically welcomed the efforts of the United States, Colombia, and Brazil, in conjunction with British billionaire Richard Branson, to bring supplies of much-needed food and medicine into Venezuelan territory.
When members of the Pemon tribe observed a Venezuelan military convoy speeding towards the Brazilian-Venezuelan border, with the intent of preventing the entrance of humanitarian aid, they decided to take matters into their own hands. In the southeastern Venezuelan village of Kumaracupay, 40 miles from the border, they attempted to block Highway 10, and prevent the arrival of the soldiers.
They were met with live ammunition from the Venezuelan military.
The first victim was identified as Zoraida Rodríguez, 40, who died of a gunshot wound. A second as-of-yet unidentified victim died later at a local hospital.
A dozen wounded were also taken to the hospital. One man, Alberto Delgado, spoke forcefully about why he came to protest against the Venezuelan military, and how the Chavista regime has impacted his life, and that of his family:
“I did this for my grandfather, who has been sick in bed for six years; I did this for my uncle Jorge William, who is in a wheelchair; I’m doing this for my uncle, Cipriano López, who is doing dialysis every week and we have to spend money…I was shot in both legs and I hope that all Venezuelans see this. The only person responsible is named Maduro and he has to leave now. We’re going to get this criminal out.”
For those Democrats in Congress who refuse to label Maduro a dictator, perhaps they should speak with Alberto Delgado and the members of his tribe.
Maduro and his disastrous policies have brought ruin and misery to Venezuela’s largely urban population, but they have brought utter devastation to Venezuela’s indigenous people, who are now dying for lack of food and medicine.
To blame US sanctions is erroneous. Sanctions have targeted the corrupt mafia-like inner circle of Maduro and his cronies, not the Venezuelan people.
Venezuela is still able to sell its oil; now the accounts must be controlled by the legitimate interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido.
Regarding the dead and wounded…regarding the Pemon indigenous massacre…regarding the death and destruction for Venezuelan populations…where is the international media?
This should have been the biggest story of the weekend. Rather it was largely ignored by the mainstream media, beyond outlets traditionally supportive of the Venezuelan opposition like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the Miami Herald.
Maduro claims that there is no humanitarian crisis. Maduro claims that he and the Bolivarian Revolution has done wondrous things for Venezuela’s indigenous people. Maduro claims that there is no massive exodus from the country.
He employs an army of propagandists, sycophants, and idealogues, even in the United States, to repeat these preposterous lies.
Let us not forget the Pemon Massacre…and let us hope that these people who bravely confronted the Communist dictatorship, have not died in vain.