HomeNewsVenezuela's Indigenous Warao Press-Ganged into Guyana's Illegal Gold Mines
NEWS

Venezuela's Indigenous Warao Press-Ganged into Guyana's Illegal Gold Mines

GUYANA / 13 JUL 2021 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Migrants from Venezuela's Warao Indigenous community who have been forced to flee to Guyana find themselves forcibly recruited to work as illegal miners in their new country.

Around 1,500 members of the Warao community have been forced to work for no pay in illegal gold mines in Guyana, according to a new report by Kapé Kapé, a Venezuelan human rights organization. Some of them were there for three weeks before being able to escape with the help of local priests and return to Venezuela, where they raised the alert.

The Warao were reportedly rounded up in the Guyanese community of Murako near the Venezuelan border in May and taken to work in illegal mines in the area of Kumaka, a northern coastal community, Kapé Kapé reported.

But it appears that Guyanese recruiters had also entered Venezuela to entice more Warao to join up under false pretenses.

SEE ALSO: How Venezuela's Indigenous Became Entangled in Drug Trafficking

"Guyanese entered Delta Amacuro [an eastern Venezuelan state home to the Warao Indigenous community], and two Indigenous people accepted the job offer and were taken to Kumaka," Juan Carlos González, a Warao man living in Guyana who knew some of those forced to work in the mines, told Kapé Kapé.

"They were supposed to go work as vegetable pickers in the countryside, but that wasn't the case. They tricked them and sent them straight to the mines to work like slaves," González added.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the migration of Warao community members to Guyana is a relatively recent phenomenon, according to Kapé Kapé, it appears that the owners of illegal gold mines are actively encouraging this migration.

The return of those who escaped the mines to their homes in Venezuela may serve as a warning and temporarily halt such recruitment drives, but the community remains highly vulnerable.

Guyana has received thousands of Venezuelan refugees in the last few years. Still, it appears Warao community members in Venezuela only began moving en masse across the border in December 2020, Kapé Kapé staff told InSight Crime, having usually preferred Brazil or Trinidad and Tobago.

Since then, migrants have been targeted by several opportunistic and criminal schemes.

SEE ALSO: Guyana News and Profile

Even those that find paid work routinely receive less than 50 percent of the average salary in Guyana, a human rights observer for Kapé Kapé in Delta Amacuro, who asked to remain anonymous due to security concerns, told InSight Crime.

"It is an exploitation of the Venezuelan Indigenous workforce," they explained.

Given the precarious situation many in the community have historically lived in, its members have in the past become wrapped up in certain criminal economies along the Venezuela-Guyana border, including drug trafficking, oil smuggling, trafficking wild birds, and contraband.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 15 OCT 2021

Merchants travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, fishing vessels, even the occasional tourist – all are tempting targets for pirates off…

CARIBBEAN / 9 MAR 2021

A new investigative report shows Ponzi and pyramid schemes have proliferated across Caribbean countries during the pandemic, and authorities have…

CACHIROS / 28 DEC 2020

A rush of drug plane traffic from South America, coupled with traffickers smuggling large cocaine shipments after coronavirus border restrictions…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…