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Post The Pemon Death Toll (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 03/06/19 9:43 AM

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The Pemon Death Toll (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 03/06/19 9:43 am)

Gary Moore writes:

Thanks to the anonymous post (March 5) for alerting of the struggle at the Brazil-Venezuela border pitting indigenous Pemón people against the Venezuelan military. A quick preliminary search in English seems to show the English-language media sparse on this, and in Spanish my hits seem not to be as thorough as what John E has found. Again after only a quick glance, I've found only reports from Feb 23-24 saying 2 Pemones killed, then another hours later, plus two days ago El Universal saying one of the wounded has died in hospital, seeming to make four deaths? Can JE enlighten me as to where he's searching that shows five deaths?

Also, I'm confused by the reports I did find, saying that the Venezuelan military was advancing on the Pemones. Wouldn't it be the other way round, if the Pemones were trying to facilitate the entry of blocked aid into Venezuela? Perhaps our anonymous contributor can point out some websites for overview.

Is it my choice of keywords, or something in the media--or something in Google-- that may be obscuring this seemingly landmark clash?

Or is it just this: the flashpoint, Kumaracupay, Venezuela, is about 40 miles from the Brazil-Venezuela border near Santa Elena de Uairen, but it appears to be 7 hours by road from the nearest city to the north (Guayana City, via highway 10) and to the south, via highway 174, it's 14 hours to Manaus, Brazil--which itself is way up the Amazon. From Caracas the drive is rated at 15 hours. And I suppose this is if all goes well. Not the world's most accessible battleground.

But not for Google Streetview (see attached graphic). It's not that the cumulative world of cyber-archiving is now as quick as human experience. In this case, it actually runs far ahead of what human eyes, coming on the snail-roads, can get to.

JE comments:  I found the reference to five deaths in an on-the-fly search, but Gary Moore seems to have done a more thorough job.  Four deaths seems to be the number most widely reported.  Gary is correct that the location is extremely remote.

In any case, greetings from Santiago de Chile.  We arrived early this morning after a long but uneventful flight.

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  • Pemon Death Toll: The Conflicting Numbers (John Eipper, USA 03/07/19 2:06 AM)

    [JE:  Once again, the author's identity is withheld by request.]

    This is in response to Gary Moore (March 6) about the number of casualties among the Pemón people during the February 22-23 events on the Venezuela-Brazil border.

    Let's start by saying that there is no free press in the country and for that reason the "official" news from the government is the only local source available, printed or digital, true or false, though it would be fair to say that stories are more likely to be faked than truthful. So according to government sources, there were no deaths and only a few wounded.

    You could find better news accuracy in the international media or the social networks. In fact, social media is the most common source for Venezuelans to learn about events in almost real time. Regarding Gary's question on the number of casualties and injured, the figures are in the range of 5 to 25 deaths, with more than 235 injured.  Moreover, it is said that more than 2000 Pemón people ran away to Brazil and the rain forest, and they carried away many of the injured because there were not enough medical supplies in Santa Elena. In fact, we knew that another of the injured died yesterday in the hospital.

    Furthermore, the uprising continued during several days after the incidents of February 23rd, causing more unknown casualties. To satisfy Gary's curiosity, here are a few links in Spanish:




    I appreciate very much the interest that John E, Gary M, Henry L and some others have paid to Venezuela's current situation.

    JE comments: The third link above reports up to 25 Pemón deaths, many of them far removed from the border region.  Gary Moore has correctly pointed out that the victim count in massacres can fluctuate widely, according to the interests/agendas of the conflicting parties.  Add politics to the mix, and it becomes even more difficult to reach a correct figure.

    Juan Guaidó arrived in Caracas to much fanfare and (so far) no arrest.  How much longer with the standoff continue with no more than isolated incidents of violence?

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    • Pemon Killings and Media Coverage (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 03/09/19 4:08 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      My thanks to the anonymous Venezuela correspondent (March 7) for the very helpful
      links to media covering the remote Venezuela-Brazil border clashes, pitting
      Maduro troops against indigenous Pemón residents.

      Another of many questions can
      now be added, too, to Google's "curators" who supplement the search algorithms
      in deciding top hits on given subjects. In this case, the useful media coverage was
      seemingly buried by Google's methods, and ambiguous smoke was packed on top.

      John E, now in Chile, pointed out my previous cautions on massacre death tolls,
      but it does seem that the string of Pemón killings (not a single massacre, at least
      as thus far proven) has brought at least five deaths, as JE originally said, with
      allegations of 20 more, none of those additions named or in any way seeming
      to be verified (perceptions of massed bodies without names often exaggerate).

      Bearing in mind the anonymous poster's warning about suppressed information
      in Venezuela, it might be best not to focus on a solid fatality number and concentrate
      instead on conceptuals--like what this says about the Venezuelan military,
      whom the international community and the White House were said to be trying
      to woo away from Maduro with the aid shipments in the first place.

      JE comments:  When do "mere" killings become a massacre?  Regarding the Pemón, the question seems to be whether Maduro has declared war on them or not.  If so, what could he possibly hope to gain with such cruelty?  Acts of desperation?

      (Apologies for yesterday's near-silence on the Forum.  We were extremely busy at the literature conference.  Today is already the final day of our too-short Chilean adventure, but I'll spend part of it catching up on WAIS.)

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