The Venezuelan Amazon devastated by “blood gold”

INVESTIGATION – To compensate for the collapse in oil production, Nicolas Maduro is developing mining in the south of the country, legal and illegal.

Artisanal gold mining in the Nacupay mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, in February 2017.
Artisanal gold mining in the Nacupay mine in El Callao, Bolivar state, in February 2017. JUAN BARRETO / AFP

Mid-August, four tankers (the Luna, the Was put, the Bering and the Bella) were arrested by US authorities between Cape Verde and Venezuela. They were carrying over a million barrels of oil bound for Caracas. According to Washington, the fuel came from Iran. Trade between the Islamic Republic and Venezuela has grown significantly in recent years, violating the embargoes imposed on the two countries by the United States.

In May, five Iranian tankers had already delivered oil to Venezuela. Affected by a serious economic, social and political crisis, accentuated by the sanctions, the country is no longer able to exploit its huge hydrocarbon reserves, the facilities of the national oil company PDVSA being in ruins. And to pay Tehran, says opposition MP Americo de Grazia, Caracas would use its gold, whose mining has exploded in the Venezuelan Amazon since 2016.

A businessman is at the center of these exchanges

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