Venezuela’s Illegal Mining, Human Suffering & Environmental Disaster in the Amazon Forest

Venezuela is one of the top 10 megadiverse countries in the world, but also highly mineral-rich. As of 2020, the Venezuelan Amazon is suffering what may be the worst environmental crisis in the Western Hemisphere and the highest deforestation rate of the Americas and Amazonia. Yet, the crisis has not made international headlines. Due to the collapse of Venezuela’s oil-based economy, the de facto government of Nicolas Maduro has turned to plundering mineral resources of the region and selling them as contraband to international buyers, signaling that indiscriminate mining is more important than preservation of protected areas, including a World Heritage site. The process threatens to destroy the nature and indigenous communities of the pristine Orinoco River basin, a Precambrian geological relic located in Amazonia and the Guiana Shield. To address the issue as an advocacy group, SOSOrinoco was started in 2018 by experts from both inside and outside of Venezuela. In a race against time (and criminals), they are working to stop the devastation and prevent the explosion of mineral conflicts that could impact neighboring countries and the wider hemisphere. They have been working anonymously, concealing the names of team members and witnesses due to the risks involved. Focused on the region South of the Orinoco River, they are documenting the tragedy, conducting in-depth analysis, raising awareness and outlining urgent measures for action. To learn more, visit: SOSOrinoco