Thursday, September 10, 2020

Morrocoy Declaration

 For the defense of the Marine-Coastal Wetlands and the Territories of Ancestral Life in Venezuela 

From the worldview of the peoples of the mangrove ecosystem, guardians of ancestral life forms that protect biodiversity, defenders of the territory of our ancestors, reflected in the birds, mangroves, fish, mollusks and everything that houses our spaces, the complicit silence and inaction in the face of the destruction of our ecosystems is unacceptable. Those ecosystems are our Ecological Heritage of Humanity. 

Our Wetlands of Venezuela, source of life, culture and food, are being destroyed by a developmental model, mistaken, which has subjected the population to extreme poverty. Said model is a mechanism of domination, that violates the most fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other treaties. 

The Indigenous Settlements of the Yukpa (Sierra de Perijá), Yanomami and Pemón people (Canaima) are being dispossessed by mining and other extractive megaprojects, activities that will never be ecological or sustainable, because they destroy everything in their path and displace our native peoples. The Orinoco Mining Arc, as a government initiative, has accentuated anarchy in the territories where it has been implemented in Venezuela, increased the presence of irregular groups, contaminating the Wetlands, raising the indicators of desertification and drought and increasing the murder of indigenous leaders and environmentalists. 

At present, Venezuela is going through an unparalleled environmental crisis. The ecological and social debt generated for decades by the wrong roots in the hydrocarbons industry has increased due to the lack of policy, technologies and institutional management in Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), leading to serious impacts on the ecosystem, and on the forms of life associated with these spaces, and finally contributing to the current global climate crisis. 

The multiple oil spills that occurred in the Territory of Venezuela are the reflection of an industry in chaos, causing irreparable damage to ecosystems and putting the health and nutrition of the general population at risk. 

Since the end of July 2020, multiple hydrocarbon spills have originated at the facilities of the “El Palito” Refining Complex run by Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), which has been affecting a wide area of Marine-Coastal Wetlands of the “Morrocoy” National Park and the “Cuare” Wildlife Refuge, which is a Wetland of International Importance RAMSAR # 414. 

The lack of access to information has prevailed in the Morrocoy Environmental Tragedy, to which is added the militarization of natural areas, preventing access to the media, environmental groups and volunteers for sanitation work. However, scientists with extensive experience and committed to the protection of biodiversity and the well-being of the communities, have released satellite images and preliminary reports that allow obtaining a projection of the damages generated by PDVSA.

These events represent a systematic violation of International Regulations and Human Rights of the peoples. In addition to that, there are the environmental impacts reported by community associations and artisanal fishermen on the power lines that cross El Refugio de Fauna de Cuare, Ramsar Site # 414, and the construction of a 1.5-kilometer navigation channel by the hotel company Lake Blue, in which mangroves have been cut down, altering the water regime of the wetland of high international importance. 

Given these facts: 

We invoke the In Dubio Pronatura as a precautionary principle of protection of Nature, under the premise that all ecosystems must be protected in the legislation of the countries and internationally. 

We express solidarity with the affected communities, indigenous peoples, artisanal fishermen and environmental groups that protect the coastal marine territory and other ecosystems in Venezuela, for whom we request protection measures that guarantee their fundamental rights are respected. 

We demand the repealing Decree 2,248 of February 24th 2016, where authorities of the National Executive branch decreed the Orinoco Mining Arc a Strategic Development Zone, which has only caused death and destruction, accentuating large-scale mining. Likewise, the cessation of the illegal occupation of the Indigenous Territory of the Yukpa, Yanomami and Pemón tribes. 

We urge International Organizations and Cooperation Agencies to support community organizations, environmentalists, and scientists, facilitating access to Cooperation and Technical Assistance for the recovery of the affected areas and humanitarian assistance. 

We ask the Government of Venezuela to respect the Magna Carta and all of the country’s legislation in general, to comply with the State's commitment to the protection of the Environment, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Human Rights of the population. 

We urge the system of International Conventions for the protection of nature and actions related to Climate Change and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, to pronounce and act according to the Global Legal Framework, in guarantee of the protection of Biological Diversity and Human Rights. 

We demand that the persecution, criminalization and assassinations of Environmental Leaders and Human Rights defenders in Venezuela, and in the world in general, be stopped, since we are a voice of resistance and fight for the sustainable and respectful life of our planet. 

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