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News: Environment | Indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans | Social Movements

Social Movement Victory: Venezuela’s Maduro Derails Plan for New Carbon Mines

Santa Elena, September 4th, 2015. ( After months of grassroots organizing, a “correction” of the presidential Decree 1,606 was published in last week’s Official Gazette revoking plans for new coal mines and a carbon-electric plant in Venezuela’s western region, in acknowledgement of the damage it would cause for the ecosystem and indigenous communities in the region.

Signed by President Nicolas Maduro on February 10th of this year, the 1,606 decree granted Sinohydro- China’s state hydroelectric construction firm and the largest in the world- a 30-year lease to exploit nearly 60,000 acres of land in the Perija mountain range for carbon mining.

After numerous protests in the capital and an extensive social media campaign, a group of ecologists and primarily female indigenous leaders received the good news from Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza in an unofficial meeting on July 30th.

“We have won,” a statement from the Homo et Natura activist society read , “a resounding victory for the protection of life on planet Earth and respect for biological, social and cultural diversity.”

The victory was confirmed in the August 27th Official Gazette, which indicated Sinohydro will only be permitted to extract from two already-open carbon mines in the region.

The amendment also nulled plans for a carbon-electric plant that would have required the rerouting the Socuy river, posing a devastating threat to the region’s biodiversity and the integrity of surrounding Wayuu communities.

A stalled wind energy project in the region will additionally be evaluated for progress, Arreaza reportedly told activists.

“They are not happy,” the Homo et Natura statement read, “those political players in Maracaibo, the National Assembly, the [state oil company] PDVSA, and the United States and Europe, those people who defend global capital based on the extraction and use of carbon for fossil fuel energy […] But millions of people in Venezuela and the world are content with this decision from the Venezuelan president.”

Published on Sep 4th 2015 at 12.36pm