Kumarakapay has been under direct military occupation for the last year. The new Pemon captain is openly pro-Maduro, and yet the Pemon, and others living in the area, are in resistance after a year of the massacre that changed the history of this community in the Gran Sabana region, between Venezuela and Brazil.
On February 22nd, 2019, Zoraida Rodriguez was shot and killed together with Kliber Perez. Zoraida’s husband, Rolando Garcia, was shot and died a few days later. They were all Pemon, working as guides at the Gran Sabana national park.
On that day, National Assembly President, Juan Guaido tried to get humanitarian aid into Venezuela, but the Maduro regime leads an armed attack against this protest. Clashes took place in crossing points between Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil, with those in the Gran Sabana being the most serious.
You must read: Venezuelans soldiers and natives rebelled in the Gran Sabana
The victims, however, were not trying to cross any humanitarian aid into the country, witnesses say. Zoraida was shot twice in the chest, while cooking, from 15 meters away. Dozens were also injured that day.
Since then, the Maduro regime began the persecution against the Pemon native leaders, including Juvencio Gomez, the replaced captain.
The regime tried to blame him and other Pemon for the massacre, trying to paint the situation as a faceoff amongst indigenous groups, but video and other testimonies show that the regime’s armed forces carried out the armed attack.
In December, Juvencio Gomez had to flee Kumarakapay and take refuge in the Brazilian native township of Tarau Paru, after a military court issued an arrest warrant against him for the Luepa uprising, which took place in the same area, but months later. Other men involved with Luepa are also in Brazil.
“It’s no secret, I am against the Venezuela regime. The regime’s persecution against us needs to be condemned and as long as there is no safety, we will safeguard ourselves,” Gomez said in an interview with El Pitazo.
There are 13 Pemon men in the DGCIM military division’s prison in Caracas, jailed because of the Luepa incident.
“They say we are dangerous. The government is mad because 13 barefoot and unarmed natives entered an important military fort and backed the military (who rose against Maduro that day). But what is happening in Kumarakapay goes beyond politics, we are clear about who we are, where we come from, and the importance of our identity. Yes, we are armed but with values and principles, and nobody will ever be able to beat that,” Gomez said.