Brazil asks Caracas for help in determining whether gold miners killed more than 80 members of Yanomami tribe from helicopter

Brazil is pressing Venezuela to determine whether Brazilian gold miners crossed the border and massacred a village of about 80 indigenous people from a helicopter.

The alleged assault, which a tribal group says could have killed more than 70 people in early July, came to light this week when the group asked Venezuela's government to investigate. Because of the remoteness of the region and the scattered nature of the native settlements, fellow tribe members were able to alert the government only on Monday.

Brazil's foreign ministry said on Friday that its embassy in Caracas had asked the Venezuelan government to provide it with any information that could help it determine whether the attack had happened and whether Brazilians had been involved.

Brazil's National Indian Foundation, a government body that oversees indigenous affairs, said it would seek a joint investigation by officials from both countries at the site.

The border area between the two countries – a long, dense swath of the Amazon rainforest – has increasingly become the site of conflicts between indigenous people, gold miners, and others seeking to tap jungle resources.

The tribe that was allegedly attacked, the Yanomami, says it has given repeated, but unheeded, warnings to Venezuela's government that the conflicts are intensifying.

On Wednesday, Venezuela's public prosecutor said it would investigate. By late Friday, however, Venezuela's government still could not confirm whether the attack had occurred.

The Venezuelan interior minister, Tareck Al Aissami, said in televised comments on Friday that officials had managed to speak with seven of the nine known groups of the Yanomami tribe and thus far had no proof of an attack in any of their settlements. Officials would soon meet with those and the other two groups to further clarify the matter, he said. "God willing, there won't have been any violence among the other two groups either."

In the document presented to Venezuelan authorities this week, Yanomami leaders said tribe members in the area had spoken with three villagers from the community where the attack allegedly took place.

The three villagers, the only inhabitants of the community known to be alive, said they had been hunting away from the settlement when they heard a "tokotoko" – their indigenous word for helicopter. They also heard gunfire and explosions, the document said. Other Yanomami who visited the village later said a communal hut had been burned and that they found charred bodies and bones.

The attack was the latest in a growing number of conflicts with Brazilian gold miners, the Yanomami said in the document. The tribe alerted soldiers in the region in late July about the attack and the soldiers interviewed some of the tribespeople who had seen the destroyed village, according to the document. Venezuela's army has not commented.

The remote settlement is a five-hour helicopter flight, or 15-day walk, from Puerto Ayacucho, capital of the southern Venezuelan state of Amazonas. Because of the distance and isolation of many indigenous settlements, the government is often unable to protect tribes from incursions by outsiders. Much of the violence goes unreported, and followup investigations are difficult once conflicts take place.

Responses to "Brazil asks Venezuela to investigate village massacre claims"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Find out who the attackers were and execute them.

  2. Mikael says:

    If this has happened it is a homicidal, holocaust-like act and nazi-like behaviour. My heart goes to the Yanomami tribe and I regret their losses. Which companies trade with this gold? Which computers, communication satellites, jewellers and technological device, cell phones etc contain traces of this blood stained gold?
    More to come, await for reliable info.
    My deepest condoleances.

  3. Por que o governo brasileiro agora está levando o caso indígena de maneira errônea, e não dá importância? Coisas deste tipo acontecem e não sai na mídia, à rede globo não comenta e as coisas ficam ignoradas na mídia internacionalmente, o tempo passa, e as coisas se agravam drasticamente. Em pleno século XXI isto é inconcebível, e quase nada se faz em relação aos povos indígenas e seus problemas, são tratados como um verdadeiro empecilho para este suposto progresso, a ONU também ignora e não interfere e como fica então esta situação?

  4. Why the Brazilian government is now taking the case of indigenous wrong way, and does not care? Things like this happen and not out in the media, the network does not comment globe and things get ignored in the media internationally, time passes, and things worsen drastically. In the XXI century it is inconceivable, and almost nothing is made in relation to indigenous peoples and their problems, are treated as a real hindrance for this supposed progress, the UN also ignores and does not interfere and then how is this situation?

  5. Government denies rumors of murder Yanomami community
    02/09/12.- In a telephone contact made ​​by Venezolana de Television, the Minister of Popular Power for Indigenous Peoples, Nicia Maldonado, denied rumors about an alleged slaughter of 80 people in a community Yanomami.

    Maldonado said that since yesterday a committee comprised of Venezuelan Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB), under Gen. Cliver Alcala Cordones, the Attorney General, Ombudsman's Office, the Scientific, Penal and Criminal (CICPC) moved to the Upper Orinoco, Amazonas state, to begin the investigation.

    During the site visit, detailed Maldonado was evident that there was no act of violence or burned shabonos cases against this community

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yet another case of impunity !

  7. Mikael says:

    I am educated din health and social sciences having a multi faceted background professionally; I originate from Sweden and have been living and working with various representants of indigenious people.
    Thesse homicidals and ethnic raids does not get the media emphasis they deserve, secondly people around the word are distressed of weather, economic failure and sofar on the behalf of indigenious peoples. original lifestyles and languages may get claasification and status on paper but not so much seems to happen in practice. Despite what this outrooting of people is terrible, sad and worrying. I wonder how often and in what extend this happens? Comparable to folk murders of former Yogoslavia, Hutsis and Tututs in Africa, jews etc. Sad bad mad world!

  8. Anonymous says:

    the world is being attacked by greeedy assholes.. them moment we step bback and decide that enough is enough and stop supporting internet.. gas.. etc.. hopefully the prophesies will come true and the world will end.. we as a people have destroyed it.

  9. makes you want to cry for these innocent people...

  10. kanvu969 says:

    Can't believe that this is happening in 21. century!!! It is not hard to find responsible for that crime, if only the good will exists! People or company that digs on the tribes land is guilty.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It seems that we are growing the earths population and greed for natural resorce at such a rate that there is no more room for indigenous people, people that have lived in harmony with this world for much longer than the all mighty white man has ruled with his 'just' laws. This makes me sick!

    P.S for all those who want to play a race card, I am caucasian!

  12. Wildee7 says:

    If true, soldiers who committed the atrocity AS WELL AS THE COMPANY OWNERS should be executed!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Keep the faith people. The world ain't so bad. Just continue to be an ambassador of good and it shall be.

  14. Ed Gibney says:

    Telesur (Venezuelan govt-affiliated TV) reported about 10 days ago that the Venezuelan army expedition sent to check this out was not able to find any evidence that it had happened.

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