Indigenous leader who defended the Amazon shot dead by Noticias de Nueva Esparta
PUERTO ORDAZ, Venezuela, July 1 – A Venezuelan indigenous leader who was an opponent of armed groups and illegal mining was shot dead on Thursday in the Amazonas state capital, a non-governmental organization and three people with knowledge of the case said.
Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a 38-year-old indigenous Uwottuja man, was a defender of the Venezuelan Amazon and had set up community groups to act as guardians of the Autana municipality of Amazonas.
“In life, Trujillo Arana strongly opposed the presence of foreign groups and illegal mining exploitation in the indigenous territories of the Uwottuja people, in the Alto Guayapo area,” indigenous rights NGO A.C Kape Kape wrote Friday on Twitter.
The Uwottuja community is made up of about 15,000 people.
Kape Kape’s director general Armando Obdola told Reuters that Trujillo had received threats for his activism, and that his case echoed the murders of environmental and social activists in neighboring Colombia.
Communities from the town of Uwottuja announced last February their decision to defend their territory against a “silent invasion” by criminal groups, rejecting illegal mining exploitation as well as the use of their land for illicit activities.
“Virgilio was accompanying the Armed Forces as a territorial guard during operations into areas where there are irregular groups,” said Obdola, who added that there are other leaders in hiding who fear for their lives.
Venezuela, Amazonas, Illegal Mining, Virgilio Trujillo Arana, Indigenous, Human Rights, Nicolas Maduro, Wladimir Padrino,
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