“We are territories of life, without territories we disappear. We defend our territories, those that our ancestors left us. And that is how we will continue, no matter what happens. The territory is our life for future generations.” A hitman and two bullets will prevent the indigenous leader Virgilio Trujillo Arana, in charge of the territorial guardians of the Sipapo River, in the Venezuelan Amazon, from being able to continue his mission, whose legacy has been recorded on video.

His murder has put an end to one of the strongest voices that had been raised against the illegal mining of blood gold and the complicity between the Chavista regime and the Colombian guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the FARC dissidents. All this in a lawless territory, comprised of the Venezuelan states of Amazonas and Bolívar, theater of operations for the military, guerrillas, mafia gangs known as “unions” and Brazilian garimpeiros. Even Bolivarian leaders have their own mines, guarded by Venezuelan soldiers or Colombian elenos.

In Autana, the territory that Trujillo and his relatives protected, the famous Operation Bolivarian Shield 2022 has also been developed, one of the largest deployments of the revolutionary army in two decades of Chavismo. The clashes in different border areas with Colombia have revealed the alliance between Nicolás Maduro, the ELN and the Second Marquetalia of the FARC, against the dissidents of the 30th Front. The Government of Caracas has covered up such collusion with the excuse of its alleged fight with the non-existent Tancol (Colombian Armed Drug Traffickers).

“Those responsible for the crime must be brought to justice. International justice must investigate the participation of the regime in the exploitation of illegal mining in Venezuela,” reacted Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS).

“Venezuela is in mourning for the murder of Virgilio Trujillo in Puerto Ayacucho. They killed him for opposing the looting of blood gold and crime in the Orinoco Mining Arc,” denounced opposition deputy Delsa Solórzano.

Trujillo, 38, was part of the Piaroas Unidos del Sipapo Indigenous Organization (Oipus). From his collective, he led the fight in his ancestral territories against illegal mining extraction, whose sale to Turkey, Russia and various Arab and African countries has become one of the main ways to avoid US sanctions.

The Observatory for the Defense of Life (Odevida) has not only recorded the murder of 32 indigenous and environmental leaders between 2013 and 2021, but also who the perpetrators were: in 21 cases they were hit men linked to the miners and in 11 they were soldiers. Chavistas of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB).

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