A few months ago, a mining outfit began violently displacing local residents and building roads and other infrastructure in Cerro La Vieja, a natural preserve in Lara State that is key to an ecosystem contributing to fertility of the neighboring lands. The mining company has the backing of government institutions, including state forces.
On May 18, more than a hundred campesinos and environmentalists met for a awareness-raising walk to the Cerro La Vieja. Along the way they witnessed the devastation that the mining initiative is bringing to the territory and visited an extraordinary cave (Cueva La Estefania) used by locals for espiritismo and santeria rituals.
They also held an assembly to develop a work agenda to stop the exploitation of Cerro La Vieja, which will devastate the preserve and damage agrarian production in one of Venezuela's most productive territories if not halted.
The awareness-raising trek was organized by the population of nearby Simon Planas municipality, which is the gateway to the Venezuelan llanos region. A highly productive territory, Simon Planas is also the home of El Maizal, a flagship rural commune.
Photo documentation by Marcelo Volpe, an extraordinary Venezuelan photographer, and VA's Katrina Kozarek.