16 December, 2014. Two indigenous women’s organisations in the Venezuelan State of Amazonas have denounced the activities of armed groups who identify themselves as Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and who are working with illegal miners in the Autana area.
According to their statement, the insurgents and miners are creating an atmosphere of intimidation, have displaced indigenous communities, and have sexually exploited indigenous women and girls, some of whom have been forced into prostitution, occasioning unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual violence. The two organisations have appealed to the national government to investigate these abuses, title and protect indigenous peoples’ lands and territories, expel the illegal miners and armed groups and create a multiparty oversight body with responsibility to provide security and protect the rights of the indigenous women.
On 15th December, representatives of the Jodi and E’nepa peoples of Bolivar State, issued a public statement requesting the government to explain the presence of armed groups, also identified as FARC, who are active in their territory. According to detailed testimony collected by the two peoples, a group of Colombian guerrillas, traversed their territory between the Cuchivero river and the Nichare river, an affluent of the Caura, asserting that they had authorisation from the Venezuelan Government. In the event one of the guerrilla developed a bad leg on the return march and the group was evacuated by the Venezuelan military by air. Photos of the encounter were recorded by the indigenous people. The E’nepa and Jodi have asked for an explanation from the government why they were not previously informed about these activities in their territory, which were carried out without their consent, in violation of the laws and constitution of the country.
Forest Peoples Programme notes that these new reports corroborate a number of other anecdotal accounts from South Venezuela alleging the presence of armed Colombian insurgents in the States of Bolivar and Amazonas, a situation that has been prevalent for several years. According to these reports, some of the insurgents collaborate with illegal gold and diamond miners whose presence in indigenous territories is well known to the national security forces.