With the Oil Bust, Venezuela Sells its Life


Water is worth more than gold.

HAVANA TIMES — A thick haze is enveloping Caracas, as always happens this time of the year.

In Zulia, Maracaibo and other Venezuelan states, the drought worsens. Many parishes in Caracas have had severe water shortages over the past months.

It’s not raining. The Guri damn, the largest in Venezuela, is about to collapse, while the government lays the blame on El Niño and all other Venezuelans point to government inefficiency.

In the midst of this situation, the government is announcing it will begin extracting coal, gold, diamonds and coltan in Zulia and southern Venezuela, because oil prices are very low and because we’ve already used up the country’s reserves. Now, it seems, we’ll go ahead and eat up what’s left also. And we’re not only going to eat it up, we’re also going to share with sister nations, in this case Canada.

Nicolas Maduro’s government has just granted the Canadian gold prospecting company Gold Reserve a license to conduct open-pit mining in the country.

Many extensive zones are included in this, Maduro’s “gift” to the Canadian government: several national parks, including the Parima-Tapirapeco and the renowned Canaima.

It is known that cyanide is used extensively in gold processing, and that this entails deadly contamination of water sources. Yes, water, the same liquid we don’t have and the one responsible for generating electricity in much of the country.

It is more important, however, to draw money into the dwindling State coffers. Let the next fellow in line deal with the problems to come, let those who live in the extraction areas or drink that water figure it out…in short, let life and nature figure a way to fix the mess created by a government that claims to champion ecological causes and work for the planet’s salvation.

Later, if needed, the dreadful, imperialist Canadian company will be accused of violating the measures “imposed” by the government to ensure the protection of the environment.

In the midst of this economic chaos and the lack of safety that is enveloping Venezuelans, very few have actually heard of this “economic measure” and far less people have spoken out against this.

When all is said and done, the Guri damn isn’t in Caracas and the coal, gold and coltan mines aren’t either. If it doesn’t happen in Caracas, it doesn’t happen at all. It’s a shame that, when the repercussions of this finally reach Caracas, it will be too late to do anything about it.

In the meantime, the few collectives (and I am not referring to the infamous and unpopular Bolivarian collectives) that raise their voice against this new scheme, this planned ecocide, include Marea Socialista, La Sociedad Hombre y Naturaleza and Maikiralaasalii. The latter (translated as “those who do not sell themselves) are a group of wayuus (indigenous communities inaccurately referred to as peasants) and Zulia locals who have set up camp near the Socuy river. The river issues north of Zulia and provides the damns across the state with water.

Coal mining at the Mina Paso Diablo has already contaminated the Guasare river, another main source of water in the state. This pollution led to the displacement of populations, disease and poverty among hundreds of wayuu families in the region. Recently, the members of Maikiralaasalii and anthropologist Luisbi Portillo led a concerted struggle to annul Decree 1606, which authorized the expansion of open-pit coal mining to the Socuy river and guaranteed pollution and all the other disasters mining contributes to.

The damage caused by the Paso Diablo mine has reached the community of those “who do not sell themselves” and drought hits them throughout the year. Now, the government is announcing new agreements with foreign mining companies that won’t take long to worsen the damage caused to the region.

I want to express my admiration and support for these men and women who refuse to sell out, for professor Luisbi Portillo and all Venezuelans who will raise their voices against this new eco-socialist scam.

The Socuy River

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2 thoughts on “With the Oil Bust, Venezuela Sells its Life

  • I’ve never understood why socialists glorify industrial society: mines, factories, machines, electrification, etc. Surely the only true socialism is the ‘primitive communism’ of hunter-gatherers, as Marx recognized: each family builds its own hut, grows its own food, makes its own clothing.

    On the other hand, socialist command economies do take modern society in that direction, so maybe the practice is better than the theory.

  • It’s terrible, many on the left in Venezuela and in the America’s are against these new mining operations and extractionism.. Also the selling off of the country to the Canadian, Chinese, Russian, Iranian and US capitalists . It was bad enough with the management and corruption in the China Fund and other countries partnerships around oil and the government taking out loans with the Chinese capitalists for about 60 billion dollars. This is what happens when you only make half a revolution, the reformists get a hold of the movement, co opt it and sell off everything, we see it in many countries.

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