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Front Line Defenders recently issued an appeal on behalf of murdered indigenous leader and human rights defender Chief Sabino Romero Izarra. In this guest post the Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme (LAMMP) explain the circumstances of his murder and the determination of his daughter Zenaida to continue his struggle.
While some in Venezuela are mourning the death of Hugo Chavez, the indigenous Yukpa people are mourning the death of their leader, Chief Sabino Romero.
Throughout Chavez's mandate the rights of Venezuela’s Yukpa peoples were not high on his agenda. The Yukpa people are one of many indigenous groups who live in the mountains of Perija – part of an imposing range of mountains in the north-west of Venezuela in the Zulia state, near the border with Colombia. The Yukpa are at risk of disappearing: in the last decades they have lost more than 90% of their ancestral territory.
I was riding in the back of a pick up truck with Vitalino, one of the leaders of MUCA (the Movement of Unified Campesinos in Aguan) in Honduras. The terrain was breathtaking; lush, green and mountainous. Vitalino had just been showing us some of the community projects that MUCA has been working on, including fish and chicken farming.
“The community’s nutritional intake has changed since we started this project,” he said proudly, pointing out that it is a source of income for the workers as well.
The late-afternoon light on the campesino dwellings we were passing in the truck was golden, Vitalino was warm and gregarious, the view was intoxicating, and a general sense of well-being prevailed. Until I asked Vitalino: “Do you intend to stay in Aguan?”
“I don’t think I’ll be alive much longer,” Vitalino answered, matter-of-factly.