Leading Venezuelan environmentalist and defender of indigenous rights, Lusbi Portillo has launched a dramatic appeal for help in organizing two simultaneous events this coming weekend.
All those supporting the struggle of the Yukpa indians in the Perija sierra mountain range in Zulia are invited to a march in Maracay on Friday, March 12 and a demonstration in front of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) building in Caracas.
Portillo outlines the reasons for the protests, the first being to highlight efforts by interested parties to paralyze the land demarcation process in the sierra.
The environmental group Homo et Natura has been consistent in supporting indigenous groups claiming a different and wider demarcation of ancestral lands in the sierra than that proposed by the government.
It claims that if the government demarcation proposal is accepted, then indigenous groups will lose an enormous piece of land on the western side limiting with Colombia and in the east where the haciendas to be rescued or recovered are situated.
Another key demand is the release from prison of Yukpa chief Sabino and 3 other indians who remain locked up facing charges of murder and aggression.
The demonstration at the TSJ building is to force the State to recognize via the TSJ indigenous rights in Venezuela and especially the right to apply their own law of justice and not that which a nationality or nation state wants to impose.
Portillo maintains that the struggle involves setting up a pluri-national state that destroys the national bourgeoisie state.
Finally, the struggle includes the environmental fight against the coal and mineral mining companies in the Socuy, Mache and Cachiri river basins.
The organizers appeal for 200 million bolivares for the national campaign and have a list of orders for Thursday: 4,000 leaflets, a bus, pay for 2 drivers, fuel, food, water, transfer of Yukpas from the sierra to Maracaibo, 8 banners, musicians, 3 actors and food, among other things.
The campaign has already kicked off with street activities in Merida last Thursday with the presence of Sabino's son and the support of local communities.
Patrick J. O'Donoghue