We know of the Massacre of Irotatheri. While I am not a direct witness and have no way of giving details, there is credible and concrete information that needs to be considered with extreme care and attention regarding the cruel killing of eighty or more Yanomami people. Within the relevant information is: the first declaration from the Yanomami leader Luis Shatiwë, two declarations signed by fourteen Amazonian indigenous organization that are all active in Venezuela, serious and detailed reports from the Brazilian Authorities and declarations from Survival International whose positions have always been strongly grounded on the facts. To this list we add previous incidents such as the Massacre of Haximu in 1993, the presence of garimpeiros (gold-miners) and other groups illegally present in Yanomami territory that has been denounced a thousand times over for abusing Yanomami men and women, including sexual violence and forced labor. All of this occurring within the institutional abandon which at least during the last three years, even though the idleness comes from even further back in both countries but especially Venezuela, the healthcare of the Yanomami has become a total failure.
President Chavez himself recognized the existence of multiple problems in the Yanomami environment.
This morning I read in the local press (September 6th, 2012) that the Attorney General of the Nation blatantly denies that existence of a massacre, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs did
the same two days earlier, even assured, declaring that everything was normal as result of a visit that the competent authorities made to the place of the actions and its neighboring communities. This is hardly credible because those that know the area all agree that it is “necessary to hike by foot four days through the forest to get to Irotatheri”.
In addition that in new declarations taken directly by Venezuelan Authorities the first and principal person to denounce Shatiwë, not only retracted his earlier statement but blamed the media of inventing the massacre and propagating false news. “How can this Yanomami leader blame the media or any other person who has made the denouncement when they clearly cite his statements made days earlier?” The existence of contradictions and uncertainties obligates the naming of an open commission, a type of “Commission of the Truth”, with participation from indigenous people, experts in the subject matter, experts of
Amazonia and above all independent from Public Institutions, with the task and commitment of going to that area of the actions, performing a deep and detailed investigation and above all give pertinent recommendations to put an end to the precarious situation that has the Yanomami People continuing to fight from their existence in what are worsening circumstances. President Chavez mentioned the possibility that he would support a serious and objective investigation.
The circumstances are urgent, unfortunately it would only take “eight or ten razzias of garimpeiros and other bandits and looters to be enough to take the Yanomami shaponos and push this multi-millennium culture and peoples to an irreversible extinction”. They are
recognized as patrimony of humanity according to UNESCO because of their valuable example of coexistence and mutual aid between humans and nature, as well as being filled with a deep spirituality, values, and a ritual, mythic and linguistic symbolism of immense complexities.
With the disappearance of these peoples is also lost the environmental biodiversity that is completely incompatible with invasive western penetration within our forests, especially in terms of uncontrolled deforestation and intense mining, even that which is legal in nature.
It has become a common saying, that “without the Amazon humanity will not have water to drink or air to breathe”, hence why so many transnational corporations and different government do whatever possible and even the impossible to contribute to its
To the moment little or next to nothing has been done to truly make compatible mining and the other extraction activities to take goods from the forest with a true respect, and not just rhetoric, for the environment and the indigenous communities and cultures. None the less, even with such beautiful constitutional dispositions and eloquent pro-indigenous legislation , the original peoples continue to be perceived by the majority of authorities as dead weight, as
an uncomfortable burden that is only there to create difficulties and complicate our development process as a country. Included in this context is the extreme delay and lethargic process of the delimiting the indigenous lands in Venezuela and other countries on the
continent, as well as the ambiguity of legal formulation of this process.
Venezuelan Authorities are deeply mistaken to speculate this as a foreign interference within their internal affairs, or especially as a plan to destabilize the upcoming presidential elections. Our North is the safety and well-being of the Yanomami Society and other Indigenous Peoples in addition the pristine habitat that constitutes their environment and which without there would not be life on Earth.
For this same reason, in my position as President of the School of Sociologists and Anthropologists of Venezuela and Dean of the Indigenous University of Venezuela, united with other colleagues, friends and indigenous leaders, we are pushing for a series of meetings and other events to attend to the now undeniable emergency and call to attention and sensitize the political establishment and elite powers that RIGEN the destinies of Venezuela. Equally from the Government and the Opposition as well as those that consider themselves Neutrals need to be clearly affirmed with meridian precision that Venezuelan society in its entirety is not willing to sacrifice it environmental PATRIMONY, its social and biological diversity, and the existence of its Original Peoples in efforts of a dehumanizing, unnatural, economist development that is guided by geopolitical interests and whose expansive wave extends over all the countries of our region, without discrimination of those who are or self-identify as right, center or left. Let us not forget how we cowardly did nothing and watched not too long ago the near extinction of almost all the Indigenous Peoples of the Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, and before that the brutal killings that exterminated the Aborigines of Tasmania as well as so many other examples that could be referenced. But with the Yanomami we rest assure that the angels ofdeath, WILL NOT PASS.
Esteban Emilio Mosonyi
President of the School of Sociologists and Anthropologists of Venezuela
Dean of the Indigenous University of Venezuela