Venezuela Indians Release Soldiers Held Captive
By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) â¿¿ A representative of Venezuela's Pemon Indians said Sunday that men in a remote village released several dozen soldiers they had been holding captive.
Levi Gonzalez said he had spoken with Pemon men in the village of Uriman, where members of the community decided to free the soldiers after government representatives agreed to allow them to keep mining and to avoid prosecution for seizing the soldiers.
Gonzalez said dozens of people in the village and nearby communities, angered over abuses by soldiers and military operations aimed at dismantling gold mining equipment and camps, had taken 43 soldiers as hostages Thursday."That's what brought us to such an extreme," Gonzalez said in a telephone interview from Santa Elena de Uairen, a town near Venezuela's border with Brazil. "Mining has always been part of our way of life. We are not getting rich, just surviving." Gonzalez said that on Saturday members of the Pemon community met with government officials including Army Gen. Cliver Alcala Cordones and Indigenous Peoples Minister Aloha Nunez. The soldiers were released Saturday evening and Sunday, and the protesters returned weapons that had been taken from the soldiers and hidden in the jungle, Gonzalez said. Government and military officials did not comment on the incident, which was widely reported in Venezuelan news media. The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. "This situation began due to abuses by soldiers," said Alexis Romero, a Pemon activist. He said soldiers routinely stop Pemon Indians to search them for gold, often detaining them for several hours. An estimated 30,000 Pemon live in Venezuela's vast Gran Sabana region in the eastern state of Bolivar, which is covered by rolling grasslands and dotted with plateaus. President Hugo Chavez's government has been trying for years to crack down on illegal mining that tears up the forests and pollutes rivers.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV