End Illegal Mining in Venezuela

Target: Ernesto Samper, Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations

Goal: Stop illegal mining that threatens biodiversity and indigenous peoples in Venezuela’s Orinoco Mining Arc.

Illegal mining is rampant in Venezuela. In 2016, it was estimated that 91 percent of gold exported from Venezuela was mined illegally. Illegal mining threatens the habitat of Venezuela’s rainforest creatures. It has many detrimental effects on Venezuela’s people as well: illegal mining drives indigenous peoples off of their historic lands, pollutes rivers, and kills workers when mine tunnels collapse.

Venezuela is home to many vulnerable and endangered species, including the Orinoco crocodile, the Venezuelan flowerpiercer bird, and the pink river dolphin. Large tracts of land have been deforested to make way for illegal gold and diamond mines. Even worse, small-scale mining processes involve the use of mercury, which pollutes soil and waterways.

Illegal mining has forced indigenous peoples off of the lands that they have lived on since time immemorial. Illegal mining also threatens the health of those who live near the mines. Gold is often illegally mined in pits of standing water, which are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos. This has led to a dramatic increase in mosquito-borne diseases; in 2016, there were over 240,000 cases of malaria and almost 60,000 cases of Zika. Furthermore, many of the illegal mines are run by gangs, and thus their profits directly fund organized crime.

Venezuela is one of the biggest oil producers in the world and contains untold amounts of gold, diamonds, and rare earth elements. Yet 80 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty, and there is an incredible scarcity of even basic medications. These illegal mines are disastrous for Venezuela’s rainforests, and the riches that come from them are clearly not being used to improve standards of living for the impoverished people of Venezuela. The corrupt government of Venezuela has allowed this illegal mining to continue for far too long. Sign this petition to demand that the Union of South American Nations crack down on illegal mines in Venezuela.


Dear Mr. Samper,

Illegal mining in Venezuela is an ecological and public health disaster. Illegal mines cause deforestation and pollution of important water sources used by both humans and animals. Mosquitoes breed in the standing water of the gold mine pits and have caused a massive resurgence of malaria. Once confined to remote jungle villages, malaria is now infecting hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans each year.

We ask that you and your colleagues at the Union of South American Nations do all you can to end the dangerous illegal mining in Venezuela.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Fernando Flores

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  2. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    illegalize minning

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