Security & Strategic Review - January 2023

VENEZUELA: Maduro turns on illegal gold miners

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has long been accused of receiving financial benefits from illegal mining in Venezuela’s gold belt – most recently in a damning United Nations report published in September 2022 [SSR-22-11]. But just one month after that report’s publication, the military intensified its operations against the organised crime groups, known as sindicatos, that run many of the illegal mines. Whilst Maduro could be attempting to improve Venezuela’s image by cracking down on a mining sector tainted by rampant human rights abuses, others have interpreted the military action as a move to end the sindicatos’ status as middlemen and ensure a direct flow of mining royalties to the government.

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