The Venezuelan government labeled as false a report that 80 Yanomami Indians were massacred in an area on the Brazilian border, while indigenous organizations said that officials assigned to investigate never made it to the site of the alleged bloodbath.
"We visited all the Yanomami communities and fortunately they have suffered no regrettable incident or any act of violence," Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami said on state television.
His comments followed a statement by the minister for indigenous peoples, Nicia Maldonado, who said that "no evidence of a massacre was found."
The Venezuelan Attorney General's Office designated last week a special commission to investigate an incident reported Aug. 27 by the Horonami indigenous defense organization that 80 Yanomamis were massacred on July 5 in an alleged helicopter attack.
"The communities were instead grateful for all the support that the Bolivarian government has given them and, thank God, no act of violence had occurred," El Aissami said.
Meanwhile, the Amazon Indigenous Organizations Association, or COIAM, issued a communique asking the government to "continue its investigation into the reported incident until it gets to the Irotatheri community."
"The commission never reached the Irotatheri shapono (Yanomami communial dwelling)...so they have no right to say they found no evidence of the alleged massacre," the communique said.
The COIAM organizations "want their right to life respected and that the violent attacks against the Yanomami people by illegal miners from Brazil be controlled bilaterally by the two countries," the note said.
On Aug. 29 the secretary of indigenous affairs for the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, Hilario Linares, told Efe that three survivors of the tragedy said that the helicopter flew over a shapono where the community was gathered and that they heard shots being fired.
"When they got to the site they saw the massacre," said Linares, who indicated that there are other witnesses as well. EFE