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Latino Daily News

Sunday September 2, 2012

Venezuela Investigates Alleged Massacre of Yanomami Indians

Venezuela Investigates Alleged Massacre of Yanomami Indians

Photo: Location of the Yanomami Indians

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The Venezuelan government sent a team of prosecutors, investigative police and military personnel to determine the facts about an alleged massacre of 80 Yanomami Indians in July that was reported by non-governmental organizations and an opposition lawmaker.

Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami said that the Bolivarian National Guard contacted Thursday seven of the nine Yanomami communities that inhabit the jungles of Amazonas state on the Brazilian border, but none of them reported any such incident.

None of those communities have experienced “a situation of violence,” he said, but added that another two isolated communities have yet to be contacted.

Representatives of the federal Attorney General’s Office, investigative police and the armed forces are currently visiting the nine Yanomami communities, the minister said Friday on state channel Venezolana de Television.

The goal of this multidisciplinary commission is to “verify, understand and obtain information” about the massacre reported to authorities.

“May God grant that the two communities we have yet to contact have not suffered any kind of violence either,” El Aissami said.

At least 80 Yanomami Indians died at the hands of purported illegal Brazilian miners in Amazonas state on July 5, indigenous leaders and a member of the opposition said Wednesday.

Opposition lawmaker Andres Avelino Alvarez of the single-chamber legislature’s indigenous peoples committee, said that only three members of the Irotatheri community in the municipality of Alto Orinoco survived the massacre by individuals aboard a helicopter with “Brazilian identification.”

The federal AG’s office designated a special commission this week to determine exactly what happened, after receiving a complaint on Monday filed by representatives of the Horonami organization, according to which “the Yanomamis were at an indigenous encampment that was attacked from a helicopter.”