As many as twelve miners were gunned down by Venezuelan army troops at the end of September, after taking part in illegal gold mining activity. The incident occurred in the mining zone of La Paragua in Bolivar state.
William Saúd a miners’ union leader said: “The government decided that the environment in the zone should be protected, and that we have to shift to different kinds of work. That’s fine. But where are the programmes, and until they’re implemented, how can miners make a living for their families? There are about 40,000 of us — we support about 200,000 people in Bolívar.”
The Chávez government wants artisanal miners to become farmers, tour guides or forest workers. Chávez has accepted that the military was responsible for the killings and has said that the soldiers involved would be brought to justice. The Venezuelan national assembly has set up an investigation.