Venezuelan Crisis: Destroying the Amazon and the Pemon People to Sustain the Maduro Regime
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Venezuelan Crisis: Destroying the Amazon and the Pemon People to Sustain the Maduro Regime
11 June @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
The unfolding crisis in Venezuela represents a major challenge not only for the country’s citizens, but also for the international community. Venezuela is facing economic collapse on a scale unprecedented for a country not at war; the IMF forecasts that inflation will reach 10million% this year. Some Venezuelans have responded by emigrating, leading to one of the largest migration flows in Latin American history; Venezuela’s diaspora is now estimated to represent around 15% of its total population. President Maduro’s regime has been in a downward spiral for years, but it has recently begun to pose a threat to regional stability.
Much has been said these past few years about drug tracking, human rights abuses, and lately the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, but sadly little about the disaster in the Southern region of Venezuela makes it to the mainstream media and social media. Historically, this region has alternated between neglect and attention on the part of Venezuelan rulers. During the past 20 years, the Chavista regime has shown fluctuating levels of attention, particularly when both Chavez and Maduro were keen to find new sources of money. During this period, the government has tried to implement 6 programs in partnership with various countries – the latest one being the Arco Minero plan announced on February 24, 2016 – to exploit the vast gold, diamond, coltan and other mineral reserves. The results have been catastrophic for the region, its people, and the environment and will probably have tragic lasting – if not irreversible – effects on Venezuela and beyond.
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to join a panel discussion with Diego Aria, former Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations Ambassador, and Kukuy, a representative of the Pemon tribe. The panel will discuss the growing political discontent in the country, highlighting the devastation of Venezuela’s Amazonia and Orinoquial peoples and the threat to regional peace and security posed by President Maduro’s regime.
Ambassador Diego E. Arria is a Venezuelan diplomat and politician with a vast work experience in Venezuela and abroad. He served as a Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations, as well as President of the UN Security Council. He was also a founding Editor of El Diario de Caracas, Governor of Caracas, Congressman, and Minister of Information and Tourism, as well as a Special Adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Ambassador Diego E. Aria also served on the board of the International Crisis Group; at the Council on Foreign Relations of NY as a Diplomatic Fellow; in the International Peace Institute, and as a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. He is currently on the Board of the Museum of Art and Design of New York, and on the Advisory Boards of the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.
Kukuy is a Venezuelan from the Pemon tribe in the Amazon. He is currently studying Security Management in Finland. He speaks fluently several languages and has a long professional background in tourism, starting as a local tour guide at his hometown and becoming a specialized Tour Leader of Venezuela.
Lord Waverley is an independent member of the House of Lords, entering the United Kingdom Parliament in 1993. He has contributed regularly to Parliamentary proceedings on a wide range of topics and addressed many challenging issues of the day, travelling extensively. He founded & chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) in addition to heading the regional Central Asian Group. He has observed national elections on behalf of the Commonwealth.
On Tuesday 11th June 2019, the Henry Jackson Society was pleased to welcome Ambassador Diego E. Arria, who served as a Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations, as well as President of the UN Security Council, and Kukuy, a Venezuelan from the Amazonian Pemon tribe, to discuss the unfolding crisis in Venezuela. They were joined by Baroness Kishwer Falkner and Dr. Alan Mendoza. The discussion was centered on the violence and oppression imposed on the Venezuelan people by President Maduro’s regime. It was passionate and impelling dialogue on the reality of the violent crisis.
After introductions, Kukuy began the discourse by discussing the oppression that his people, the Pemon tribe, and those in Venezuela’s Amazonian region, in general, were enduring. Specially, he discussed how the implementation of Maduro’s gold exploitation initiative, Arco Minero, was devastating the environment in the Amazon and forcing the regional tribes into mining work. The tourism market had previously sustained the region, but now this market is obsolete, forcing the Pemont people in to dangerous gold mining labour. Kukuy stated, “the Pemont are victims of a cruel regime.” On the environment, Kukuy discussed how his people’s ancestral lands are becoming contaminated and depleted of natural resources. He mentioned, “I am here to bring this message to create awareness…We need stronger partners, governments, NGOs, to help us in this fight.” Kukuy emphasized that as long as Maduro’s regime is enthroned, the environment and the living conditions will get worse.
Second to speak, Ambassador Arria, emphasized the need for international support. He also highlighted the oppression endured by the Venezuelan people. He described how many Venezulans have no food, no water, no electricity, no medicine, etc. A migration of four million Venezuelans in underway, three million of them being children. Arria said that Venezuela is receiving very little international support. The UN has not intervened nor has Spain, who has an obligation to help because of its historical ties with the country. On the topic of support from the Trump administration, Arria said, “You may like him or you may not like him, but President Trump has helped us more than any other American president.” Arria emphasized that the help Venezuela is receiving isn’t sufficient to dismantle the regime. Arria and other advocates for Venezuela in the audience felt that it was “encouraging to be here in London in the Parliament” to advocate for international support.
At the conclusion of the event, Kukuy was asked what his main demands would be from the Venezuelan government. He replied that the Pemont wanted, “the right to [their] land, help from the government and to stop all this environmental damage.” The obvious human rights abuses conducted by the cruel Madero regime must be stopped. The events highlighted firsthand experiences of the devastation imposed by the Maduro regime. The HSJ was delighted to have hosted this event in Parliament and to have given a voice to the people that the regime continues to suppress.
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