Caracas, Jan 12 (IANS/EFE) At least six people were killed and four injured in fighting between gangs for control of a gold mine in southeastern Venezuela that has since been placed under military control, authorities said.
The clash occurred Monday at an illegal mine in the Manaima sector on the Paragua river, according to the Bolivar state government’s citizen safety secretary, Julio Cesar Fuentes, who told EFE that around 1,500 illegal miners were in the area.
‘As a result of that confrontation among criminals, six people died and four were injured,’ Fuentes said, adding that all of the fatalities apparently were gang members and that two were illegal immigrants, one presumably Colombian.
He said different people had traveled via jungle roads to the mine, known as ‘nueva bulla’, to explore for gold illegally.
”La bulla’ is nothing more than a gold discovery in an area. Automatically that causes people who work in mining on their own account to mobilize’ and head to the site, Fuentes said.
He said police and military personnel had been deployed to the scene to evict people who were exploiting the deposit and that the mining area was now completely under control.
Venezuela’s newly appointed Defense Minister, Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, said in remarks to Union Radio that the events in Bolivar state were regrettable and that he had dispatched some 400 soldiers to the area to restore order.
Some 3,000 people were forcibly removed from that same mine in December, according to Rangel Silva, who said the people who go to the mines to extract gold ‘are victims of exploitation by mafias’.
‘What you get there is pure human misery, pure exploitation by people who aren’t there, who are in other countries and are the ones exploiting those people,’ he said.
A decree requiring all gold produced in Venezuela to be sold and delivered to the government went into effect last Sept 19.
In May 2011, President Hugo Chavez estimated national gold production at roughly 11 tonnes annually and said a similar amount is smuggled out of the country every year.