Venezuela expels 10,000 from illegal gold mine, now closed

Venezuela expels 10,000 from illegal gold mine, now closed

CARACAS, April 24 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Venezuelan authorities said they had expelled some 10,000 people from an illegal gold mine that claimed at least 16 lives when it collapsed in February.

The Bulla Loca mine in the Bolivar state in Venezuela’s Amazon region has now been “closed and evacuated,” general Domingo Hernandez Larez of the armed forces’ operational command said on X.

He shared a video online showing huge craters left by illegal mining, as well as dozens of felled trees around the mine that sprung up inside the La Paragua Forest Reserve.

Evacuation began in February after the open-pit mine caved in. Locals say the death toll was much higher than the official tally of 16.

Since last year, some 14,000 illegal miners have also been evicted from the Yapacana National Park in the neighboring Amazonas state, where vast areas were devastated by mining.

Activists denounce “ecocide” in the area and the exploitation of children working long hours without protection.

Authorities say illegal miners fell and burn trees, contaminate water and engage in underground drilling that is damaging to the environment and harmful to Indigenous communities.

Last July, President Nicolas Maduro ordered the deployment of the armed forces to counter a scourge he said was “destroying the Amazon of South America… and Venezuela.”

Rights activists have denounced excessive use of force during evictions of illegal mines where foreigners from Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador also operate. — NNN-AGENCIES


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