Warao native Venezuelans are dying of hunger: chieftains.

In the Waraos communities of Wana, Buja, and Boca de Maneiro, people eat once a day. There is no economic activity and fishing is limited due to shortages of gasoline and motor oil for the boats. And hospitals have no medicine.

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In the Warao community of Buja, 700 families live without basic services, drinking water from the river | Photo: Courtesy Edwar Freites.

Hunger is killing the Waraos in the south of Maturin state, right atop the Orinoco oil belt, the largest concentration of oil known.

Lino Plaza, Francisco Rodriguez, and Melesio Rondon, chiefs of the Waraos communities, are denouncing that in these townspeople eat once a day because fishing has been limited due to the lack of oil for the boats. In fields is not growing anything because of the lack of seed.

Chief Rondon compared pre-revolutionary times with what the Warao community is experiencing today, telling El Pitazo: “Before we lived peacefully, but now, in revolution season, and we are in bad shape because we have no food, no water, no transport and no health.”

He also expressed his regret at having to feed the 12 members of his family with one fish.

“They are getting sick because they don’t eat. They are not getting medical help either because the clinic is not working,” said Rodríguez, who stated that in Buja, 11 native Venezuelans have died from different diseases from the end of 2019 to early 2020.

You must read: Number of Warao families moving from Venezuela increases

The bodies were buried without coffins because the families had no money to buy them or the tools for building by themselves.

This year, in Boca de Maneiro, six children and two adults have died for not receive medical assistance. Rondon does not know the causes of the deaths because no doctor tended to the patients when they became ill, but he believes that the lack of food had an impact because they only eat the feral root of ocumo from what they plant in the backyard of the houses. “We eat once a day,” he said.

Although no deaths are reported in Wana as in the other two communities, Plaza did not rule out that they may happen cause they only eat yucca, yet another feral root. “We are fishermen and we cannot go to the river to look for fish. We have to wait for someone to come from Tucupita –Delta Amacuro– to buy it when we get a bonus.” A bonus from the government through the Fatherland ID social control tool.

The caciques said they have not received government assistance and denied that there is an investment in the indigenous peoples or their communities since they do not even have drinking water. “In Wana, we have been drinking water from the river for ten years,” said Plaza. The group demands that the rights of 1,266 families be respecting.

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