The Venezuelan government has accused opposition protesters of destroying thousands of trees, and pledged to increase funding for conservation groups and other environmental initiatives.
Maduro: “It’s Time To Form A Powerful And Unified Environmental Movement”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has approved Bs 40 million in funding for an environmental mission, and announced the creation of a national eco-socialist school.
During a meeting of Venezuela's environmental movement over the weekend, Maduro called on students and young people to join in state sponsored environment rehabilitation projects.
“Today we have 43 national parks, and an environmentalist and conservationist movement must be found ... for each specific park,” Maduro stated.
The Bs 40 million in new funding is earmarked for Mision Arbol (Tree Mission). The Mission is a government programme aimed at planting trees and rehabilitating natural environments, with a particular focus on maintaining native species. Most of the trees are planted by volunteers. This year, the government aims to plant 3.5 million species of trees, environment minister Miguel Leonardo Rodríguez stated, according to VTV.
“It's a brand new system that exists in very few countries,” Maduro stated.
The new funding will primarily be used to finance logistics, seed purchases and other expenses related to the mission's main goal of planting new trees.
To support further environmental initiatives, Maduro also declared that a new education programme will teach volunteers how to better care for the environment. Named the “Hugo Chavez National School of Eco-socialist Leaders”, the initiative will also promote greater environmental awareness and “solidarity”, according to Maduro.
The president stated that some of Venezuela's national parks don't have enough organised conservation groups to assist in preserving natural ecosystems. Groups that do operate in some parks also lack sufficient training, according to the president.
The school will “bring awareness to people” of how to better conserve Venezuela's native ecology, and the importance of environmental protection.
“It's time to form a powerful and unified environmental movement,” Maduro stated.
The president stated that a recent surge in recent environmental vandalism by violent opposition groups has exposed the need for better environmental safeguards and more education.
“Good things always come from bad,” Maduro stated.
“Eco-cide” in Venezuela: More Than 5000 Trees Destroyed by Violent protesters
Ecological movements, social groups, and community spokespersons from across Venezuela strongly condemned environmental damage inflicted on the country by the opposition during their two months of violent protests.
protesters have directly caused dozens of deaths, while the trees, plants, waterways, animal life, and even the air have also faced attack from the masked-men, who have used over 5,000 trees to barricade off streets and fill the air with the smoke from burning tires.
Maduro called it an “eco-cide” and vowed to apply the full weight of the law against those found responsible.
“Never before, never, has a political group attacked so massively nature and life itself. It amazes me what these people, with all their hate, are capable of”, stated a furious Maduro.
“What does the life of a tree have to do with the crazy desire to overthrow the constitutional President of Venezuela?” he asked.
The President ordered his Environmental and Foreign Ministers to denounce the ecological disaster: “it’s necessary that the world knows the truth about what is happening in Venezuela,” he stated.
He called on supporters to combat violence with work.
“If they cut down 5,000 trees to block the main roadways, then we are going to plant 1 million more. This is the task which confronts us: Confronting fascism and its destruction, the people united in construction”.
Dogs And Cats Burnt By protesters
In Maracay, Caracas, and Maracaibo- where experts estimate that 736 trees have been destroyed- activists further denounced that masked protesters have used street animals in their barricades, sometimes painting political slogans on the dogs and cats before setting fire to them.
Animal rights groups described the horrific actions of the protesters as “a show of intolerance from those who claim to be protesting peacefully”.
The Interior Minister explained that with such eco-cide “the fascist groups are forming new precedents of hate against nature, which have no political colors”.
“Provoked” Forest Fires and Infrastructure Damage
The Environmental Minister Miguel Rodriguez denounced that over 300 forest fires have been recorded during the protests, the “majority” of which have been provoked.
Minister Rodriguez further condemned the destruction of various local offices of his ministry, as well as their sub-organization, the Institute for National Parks (INPARQUES), in aggressions against the ecological work of the government.
Gilmer Zambrano, Director of the Environmental Ministry in Tachira State, explained that 60 masked men destroyed the offices in the region.
“We deeply condemn and reject these violent acts which are no more than an expression of hate and intolerance”, he stated, explaining that the armed men “broke in, broke windows, stole furniture and everything they could take, and then burned the installations”. Four vehicles were also burned.
In Merida, the damages to the INPARQUES and Ministry offices are estimated to exceed $1.68 million following the repeated torching of the premises. Local authorities announced
that protesters had stolen 5 logistical vehicles, a digger, a planting machine, 28 computers and fieldwork equipment such as GPS machines, compasses, cutters and other tools used to combat forest fires, severely hindering the work of the ecologists in the future.
Compiled and abridged by Venezuelanalysis.