Published: Wednesday 15 November 1995

-- Land is causing strife all across the Amazon basin. Many of the conflicts are sparked off by the aggressive forays of miners and loggers into far-flung areas of the Amazon as they attempt to extract coal, gold and timber. The groups range from small miners known locally as 'port knockers' to giant timber companies from faraway Indonesia and Malaysia. Conflicts have also been triggered by poor peasants in search of land for farming and government security forces which have set off bloody battles with indigenous people and landless farmers.

Perhaps the hardest hit by the influx of miners and loggers are groups like the Yanomani.on Jhe borders of Brazil and Venezuela who have never encountered industrial society. There are many other casualties too. "Killing of Indians by military and police forces have been reported from Wayuu and Yupka areas in the north-west of Venezuela," asserts Marcus Colchester of the World Rainforest Movement in a report titled Venezuela: Violation of Indigenous Rights. An equally hard blow is the loss of Wayuu and the Yupka land in the Sierra de la Perija to large, state-controlled open cast coal mines and oil drilling.

The so called development schemes have proved to be the bane of indigenous peoples in other parts of Venezuela as they contend with death, displacement and disease. A particularly bitter blow to the Perron, Kapon, Karina and Lokono peoples in Bolivar state near the border with Guyana is the conversion of their land into timber concessions.

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