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Thread: Human Rights Watch Venezuela

  1. #1

    Default Human Rights Watch Venezuela

    Venezuela: Curbs on Free Expression Tightened

    Santiago, March 24, 2005) — Amendments to Venezuela’s Criminal Code that entered into force last week may stifle press criticism of government authorities and restrict the public’s ability to monitor government actions, Human Rights Watch said today.

    By broadening laws that punish disrespect for government authorities, the Venezuelan government has flouted international human rights principles that protect free expression.

    José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch

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    “By broadening laws that punish disrespect for government authorities, the Venezuelan government has flouted international human rights principles that protect free expression,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “While countries across Latin America are moving to repeal such laws, Venezuela has enacted further restrictions on the press that will shield officials from public scrutiny.”

    The amendments extend the scope of existing provisions that make it a criminal offense to insult or show disrespect for the president and other government authorities. Venezuela’s measures run counter to a continent-wide trend to repeal such “disrespect” (or “desacato”) laws. In recent years, Argentina, Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Peru have already repealed such laws, and other countries like Chile and Panama are currently considering legislation that would do so.

    The human rights bodies of the United Nations and of the Organization of American States have repeatedly urged states to repeal such provisions.

    The president, vice-president, government ministers, state governors and members of the Supreme Court are already protected from disrespect under the law. The new provisions extend this protection to legislators of the National Assembly, members of the National Electoral Council, the attorney general, the public prosecutor, the human rights ombudsman, the treasury inspector, and members of the high military command.

    Anyone convicted of offending these authorities could go to prison for up to 20 months. Anyone who gravely offends the president, on the other hand, can incur a penalty of up to 40 months in prison.

    Other amendments increase the penalties for defamation and libel. Penalties for defamation have been increased from a maximum of 30 months of imprisonment to a new maximum of four years if the statement is made in a document distributed to the public. Those convicted would also have to pay a fine of up to 2,000 tax units (currently equivalent to more than US$ 27,000). The penalty for libel rises from a maximum jail term of three months to a new maximum of two years.

    These changes to the criminal code follow a Law on the Social Responsibility of Radio and Television, which entered force in November and imposes wide-ranging administrative restrictions on radio and television broadcasting.

    “These new provisions add to the arsenal of press restrictions already at the government’s disposal,” Vivanco said. “By further criminalizing criticism of government authorities, these laws will restrict the public’s ability to monitor abuse by those in power.”

    Seems a great place to live If you critise Chavez you can incur a penalty of up to 40 months in prison

    While at same time are those who Critise the Pds of Fianna fail here given 40 months in prison?

    Venezuela: Media Law Undercuts Freedom of Expression

    Venezuela: Media Law Undercuts Freedom of Expression
    (Washington, November 24, 2004) — A draft law to increase state control of television and radio broadcasting in Venezuela threatens to undermine the media’s freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today. Venezuela’s National Assembly, which has been voting article by article on the law, known as the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, is expected to approve it today.

    This legislation severely threatens press freedom in Venezuela.

    José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch

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    “This legislation severely threatens press freedom in Venezuela,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Its vaguely worded restrictions and heavy penalties are a recipe for self-censorship by the press and arbitrariness by government authorities.”

    Human Rights Watch is concerned that the proposed law contains loosely worded rules on incitement of breaches of public order that could penalize broadcasters’ legitimate expression of political views. If found responsible for the infractions, a television or radio station could be ordered to suspend transmissions for up to 72 hours, and have its broadcasting license revoked on a second offense.

    These provisions violate international standards protecting free expression. Because of the importance of allowing a full and free public debate, the government must only impose restrictions on grounds of incitement where there is a clear relation between the speech in question and a specific criminal act.

    Under the guise of protecting children from crude language, sexual content, and violence, the proposed law would also subject adults to restrictive and puritanical viewing standards. Several of the norms are ill-defined and subjective, and stations that infringe them would be subject to tough penalties.

    For example, a station that broadcasts material considered to be “an affront to the integral education of children or adolescents” could face a fine of between 0.5 and 1 percent of its gross income in the previous tax year, a penalty that would apply for failure to comply with other regulations under the law. A combination of ill-defined norms and onerous fines would encourage pervasive self-censorship.

    Television and radio stations would be obliged to transmit the government’s educational, informative or public safety broadcasts for up to 60 minutes a week. This is in addition to the president’s powers under article 192 of the Telecommunications Act (introduced in 2000 by the government of President Hugo

    Chávez) to order stations to transmit in full his speeches and other political messages. Such an obligation is an illegitimate interference in editorial freedom.

    The law establishes an 11-person Directorate of Social Responsibility, part of whose mandate is to enforce the law and punish infringements. Seven members of the directorate are government appointees. Its president, the Director General of the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), is appointed by the president and does not enjoy fixed tenure.

    Until now, the Chávez government has largely respected press freedom even in the face of a strident and well-resourced opposition press. Indeed, as part of the often heated and acrimonious debate between supporters of the government and its opponents, the press has been able to express strong views without restriction. Private television companies have often adopted a blatantly partisan position, and their news and debate programs have been extremely hostile to the Chávez government.

    At the same time, however, many journalists working for the primarily private media that support the opposition have been victims of aggression and intimidation by government supporters. And, to a lesser degree, journalists working for the primarily state media sympathetic to the government have also been subject to acts of intimidation.

    Human Rights Watch supports legislation designed to encourage radio and television stations to promote a diverse and vibrant public debate. Any restrictions introduced by law, however, must be reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the public interest served. Broad or vaguely-defined restrictions, which if applied rigorously could lead to severe sanctions against broadcasters, only encourage self-censorship.

    “Imposing a straitjacket on the media is not the way to promote democracy,” said Vivanco.

    Investigate Killings of Opposition Supporters in Venezuela

    - The government of Hugo Chávez should carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction and murder of four opposition supporters whose bodies were found on February 16 and 17, Human Rights Watch said today.

    The government must launch a prompt and impartial investigation into this vicious crime, and must guarantee the safety of the reported witness to the killings.

    José Miguel Vivanco
    Executive Director
    Americas Division
    Human Rights Watch

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    The circumstances strongly suggest that these were political killings," said José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch. "The government must launch a prompt and impartial investigation into this vicious crime, and must guarantee the safety of the reported witness to the killings."

    Darwin Arguello, an army soldier, Angel Salas, a navy corporal, and Félix Pinto, an airman, were reportedly abducted together in Caracas during the night of February 15. The following day, police discovered Pinto's body and that of a twenty-eight-year-old woman, Zaida Perozo López, close to a highway in the state of Miranda, some forty kilometers east of Caracas.

    The bodies of Arguello and Salas were discovered nearby a day later. All four had been bound, gagged with tape and shot repeatedly.

    A fourteen-year-old girl, whose name has not been revealed, is believed to have witnessed at least one of the killings and to have been shot and left for dead. She is recovering in a hospital.

    Arguello, Salas, and Pinto had joined a protest by dissident military officers against the Chávez government and had participated in opposition gatherings in the Plaza Altamira, a square where anti-Chávez activists have been camped for more than three months. Zaida Perozo is also reported to have frequented the square.

    A witness to the abductions said that he had seen the victims being forced by men wearing ski-masks into two vehicles a short distance away from the Plaza Altamira.

    The political situation in Venezuela remains tense in the wake of a two-month general strike called by the opposition Coordinadora Democrática, the business group Fedecámeras, and the country's largest union federation. President Chavez has rejected opposition demands for a constitutional reform to permit early elections, and has threatened tough measures against the strikers and against private television networks that supported the strike.

    At least seven people have been killed and scores injured in street protests since December 2002, but there have been no confirmed reports of extrajudicial executions of opposition or government supporters

    Chavez to shut down opposition TV

    Gee I wonder if the socialist paper or socialist worker paper was shut down here how the far left would react

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    Massive Weather Study Heads for the Skies and Roads of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas
    David Hosansky
    UCAR Communications
    P.O. Box 3000
    Boulder, CO 80307-3000
    Telephone: (303) 497-8611
    Fax: (303) 497-8610

    Keli Tarp
    Telephone: 405-366-0451

    Note to Editors: Reporters are invited to the IHOP2002 media day on Monday, May 13. A press briefing will take place at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport, where the project aircraft are based. For more details, see the media advisory.

    BOULDER—One of the largest weather-related studies in U.S. history will track the nearly invisible swaths of moisture that fuel heavy rain across the southern Great Plains from Texas to Kansas. Scientists hope that analyzing water vapor will be the key to better predictions of when and where summertime storms will form and how intense they will be.

    Led by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), IHOP2002 (International H20 Project) will be based in central Oklahoma from May 13 to June 25. The National Science Foundation, NCAR's primary sponsor, is providing the bulk of the project’s $7 million funding, with additional support from other agencies. Field activities will be coordinated by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which operates NCAR.

    Six aircraft from the United States and Germany will traverse the core study area, some flying as low as 100 feet above the surface. A futuristic, semi-autonomous research craft, the Proteus (sponsored by NASA, NOAA and DOD), will carry instruments up to 56,000 feet. On the ground, an armada of 30 weather-tech vehicles, including four Doppler radars on flatbed trucks, will comb the rural roadways of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Over 100 scientists and technicians scattered across the plains will be aiming radars and other sensors at water vapor well ahead of the day's first raindrops.

    Unlike many weather studies held in this region, IHOP is homing in on the water vapor that feeds showers and thunderstorms, rather than trying to capture episodic events like tornadoes or other severe weather.

    "We're hoping to actually see how the water vapor moves," says NCAR's Tammy Weckwerth, one of IHOP's two lead scientists. "That's never been done before." Cloud cover may impede some of the more sensitive instruments, Weckwerth adds. "The ideal day will start out cloud free, yet humid."

    Where, when, and how hard it will rain are the most difficult elements to nail down in weather forecasting, especially in spring and summer. Better precipitation outlooks are a key goal of the U.S. Weather Research Program, which has organized a number of agencies in support of IHOP. The study aims to improve forecasts from 1 to 12 hours ahead of heavy rain, which could help in flash-flood safety and other applications.

    "Right now the lead time for flash-flood forecasts is well under an hour," says NCAR's David Parsons, co-lead scientist on the study. "If you can extend forecasts of heavy rainfall out a few hours, you’re doing great."

    Heavy rain depends on an ample supply of moisture, so the lack of water-vapor data is a major forecast impediment. Currently, no device can track tiny molecules of water vapor minute by minute over large areas. Weather balloons (radiosondes) provide most of the water-vapor data used in forecasting; however, their high cost reduces the frequency and spacing of balloon launches. Lidar (laser-based radar) provides more detail than radiosondes, but it can only sample across a few miles, and clouds reduce that range further. Satellite sensors, which cover much of the globe, haven't yet furnished the high-resolution measurements needed in the lower atmosphere for storm prediction.

    By mixing older and newer sensors, IHOP2002 will examine how the latest technology can bridge the gaps in water-vapor sensing. Four of the IHOP aircraft will carry state-of-the-art systems that produce vertical profiles of water vapor. These will be used to help calibrate new, higher-precision instruments aboard satellites. Other sensors on the ground will analyze signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS) and other sources. Special high-end radiosondes will be launched for comparison with other data. UCAR's Joint Office for Science Support will be coordinating the IHOP2002 operations center in Norman, as well as managing and archiving data.

    Forecasters from several labs and universities will use a suite of high-performance computer models to predict each day’s weather. Rather than simply assigning a chance of rain, the meteorologists will specify rainfall amounts across the study area. Such forecasts are now limited in accuracy, but with the IHOP data at hand, scientists are hoping to improve their skills.

    On the Web:
    Additional information can be found at:

    Questions and answers about IHOP field activities

    Where and when will aircraft be overhead?
    Six aircraft (see below) will sample parts of the IHOP study area between May 13 and June 25. Flight days and locations will be determined by weather conditions; on operational days, aircraft will fly as early as 6:00 a.m. Most flights will take place by day, although a few could extend as late as midnight. One aircraft will fly at heights as low as 100 feet in limited areas to measure the effect of vegetation on low-level heat and moisture. Some of the low-level aircraft may fly over the same area several times in a single day. Three other planes will fly at middle altitudes, and the Proteus aircraft will fly as high as 56,000 feet.

    How will the weather balloons (radiosondes) be launched and retrieved?
    Some 800 radiosondes will be launched during IHOP2002, many twice each day from National Weather Service offices in Dodge City, KS, Oklahoma City, OK, and Wichita, KS, and from Liberal, KS. Others will be launched from vehicles positioned in and near regions of expected storm development. Some of the balloons are specially enhanced “reference radiosondes”. After these fall to earth, they will be retrieved by IHOP technicians in vans. The other radiosondes will have labels with phone numbers; please call the number for details on how to return the sondes.

    What other IHOP activities will be noticeable?
    Several mobile radars (see below) will canvass the study region, scanning the skies from off-road positions or while driving. Other vehicles will have roof-mounted weather stations that monitor local conditions. The presence of an IHOP vehicle doesn't necessarily mean that a given location will get severe weather. All IHOP vehicles will be clearly marked as being affiliated with NOAA/NSSL or one of the other participating institutions (see list below).
    More on IHOP instruments and participants

    Aircraft (all based at Will Rogers World Airport, Oklahoma City)
    Aircraft Period of study Typical altitudes during IHOP
    Proteus (for IPO) May 25–June 14 Up to 56,000 ft
    Flight Int’l Learjet May 13–June 25 14,000–22,000 ft.
    DLR Falcon (Germany) May 17–June 14 10,000–23,000 ft.
    NASA DC-8 May 25–June 13 25,000 ft.
    Naval Research Lab May 17–June 25 300–14,000 ft
    U. of Wyoming King Air May 13–June 25 100–4,000 ft.

    Doppler radar
    Four mobile Doppler radars from several institutions will travel aboard flatbed trucks. Each one has a compartment for technicians and a rotating transmitter/receiver unit, several feet wide, that can operate while the truck is in motion or parked off road. NCAR’s fixed S-Pol radar will be located near Bryan’s Corner in the eastern Oklahoma Panhandle. Another NCAR-developed Doppler radar will be on board the P-3 aircraft. Together, these radars will provide details on rainfall location and intensity, as well as the air motion before thunderstorms form.

    Other instruments
    4 fixed and 4 airborne lidars (laser-based radars that profile moisture and wind across short distances)
    1 advanced wind profiler (upward-pointing radar that senses wind direction and speed aloft)
    2 sodars (sonic-based radars that sense wind direction and speed aloft)
    3 interferometers (devices that detect radiation and infer water vapor and temperature)
    1 mobile and 3 profiling radiometers (devices that sense radiation emitted by water vapor)
    400 dropsondes (instrument packages that parachute to earth from airplanes)
    1 tethersonde system (weather station on a line tethered to a balloon floating as high as 3,000 feet)
    52 GPS receivers (sensors that infer moisture from changes in a GPS signal)
    15 fixed and 9 mobile weather stations, all specially tailored for IHOP
    800 radiosondes (instrumented weather balloons), plus special launches
    Data will also be provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) network, the Oklahoma Mesonet, and standard observing networks.

    Participating institutions from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany
    • National Science Foundation • National Aeronautics and Space Administration • National Center for Atmospheric Research • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration • Department of Energy • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research • National Polarorbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) • Integrated Program Office (DOD, DOC/NOAA and NASA) • French National Center for Scientific Research • Météo-France

    University of Alabama in Huntsville • University of California, Los Angeles • University of Colorado • University of Connecticut • University of Maryland at Baltimore County • Massachusetts Institute of Technology • University of Massachusetts • University of Minnesota • University of Nevada and its Desert Research Institute • University of Oklahoma and its Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies • Pennsylvania State University • University of Wisconsin–Madison • University of Wyoming • McGill University (Canada) • University of Hohenheim (Germany)

    Other participants
    Colorado Research Associates • German Aerospace Center

  3. #3


    you see a country like Venezuela where you can go to prison for up to 20 months for the crime of Offending Poor Chavez is exactly what scum genocide deniers like jacobin support

    So Comparison Ireland free speech Free to Critise the goverment Or Venezuela where you can go to prison for up to 20 months for the crime of Offending Poor Chavez which sounds Better now? Free Speech or no Free Speech?

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    sotope study

    * Overview
    * Risks
    * Results


    Nuclear radiology is a sub-specialty of radiology in which radioisotopes (compounds containing radioactive forms of atoms) are introduced into the body for the purpose of imaging, evaluating organ function, or localizing disease or tumors.

    Unlike conventional or computed radiography (such as plain x-rays and CT scans) in which x-ray beams are generated within a machine and projected through the patient, in isotope studies the radiation (gamma rays) originates from within a radiopharmaceutical (material tagged with a radioisotope ) in the body.

    Special detector cameras are placed close against the area of interest for a period of time, and once enough gamma rays are "seen," a computer creates an image showing where the isotope localized within the organ or body.

    Generally, nuclear medicine scans do not provide the level of anatomic detail seen on x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MR images. However, correlation with other imaging, clinical information, and laboratory results helps identify and confirm disease.

    See bone scan , nuclear ventriculography (MUGA or RNV), pulmonary ventilation/perfusion scan , thyroid scan , lung scan , and renal scan .
    Alternative Names:

    Scintillation; Radionuclide organ imaging; Radioisotope; Radioactive uptake; PET scan; Nuclear radiography; Nuclear medicine scan
    How the test is performed:

    A radioactive isotope needs to be introduced into the body. This may be done in several ways:

    * Through a needle into a vein (usually the inside of the elbow)
    * Through a catheter that is inserted into a vein or artery and is then guided to the organ being tested
    * Ingestion (for example, to test the thyroid, the patient swallows a pill containing radioactive iodine)
    * Subcutaneous injection (under the skin)
    * Collecting a patient's own blood from a vein, adding the radioisotope compound in a laboratory, and then injecting back into the patient

    After a certain period of time has passed (ranging from a few hours to a day or more for different exams), you will be placed on a table (called a gantry) under the scanner, which may rotate around the body.

    You must remain still to get accurate and useful images. For some tests, a counter is placed over the organ, and the amount of radioactivity or intensity of radioactivity is recorded.

    A technician interprets the information as it is transmitted to the computer and can guide the camera to specific locations to improve the imaging.
    How to prepare for the test:

    Inform the technician or physician of ALL medications you are currently and have recently been taking, since they may interfere with the isotopes given for the exam. Also be sure to mention any recent imaging studies involving injected contrast media (dye) and oral or rectal contrast (such as from gastrointestinal studies) since they may also interfere.

    You must sign a consent form before the radioactive compound is given. You may need to fast overnight before the test. Depending on the region being scanned, you may need to wear a hospital gown. Remove jewelry, dentures, and other metal that may affect the scan by blocking the gamma rays from the detectors.
    How the test will feel:

    If the isotope is injected, there will be a sharp ****************************** when the needle is inserted. If a catheter is inserted, the site of insertion is usually numbed with an anesthetic. You will first feel a ****************************** when the needle is inserted, but you will feel little more than slight pressure or tugging during the injection of the isotope. If the isotope is ingested, the flavor of the liquid may be unpleasant, but no pain is involved.

    For patients who are extremely sensitive to the isotope, there may be nausea, headache, or vomiting. Discuss allergies with the health care provider or technician before the test.
    Why the test is performed:

    Nuclear radiography shows the size, shape, position, and some function of the target organs specific for a particular radioisotope molecule. If another test has indicated cancer or abscess , this test can help support that diagnosis and indicate the location. Repeat examinations can be used to gauge response to therapies.
    Thyroid enlargement - scintiscan

    Thyroid enlargement - scintiscan

    * Review Date: 8/3/2005
    * Reviewed By: Jonathan Gross, M.D., Department of Radiology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

    A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is the first of its kind, requiring compliance with 53 standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audit. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial process. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics ( and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

  5. #5



    o: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

    We, the undersigned Venezuelan, draw the attention of the Commissioner to the following:
    The government of Venezuela is waging a war upon the opposition. Since President Chavez took power in 1998, the opposition have been, shut, attacked by the National Guard with rubber bullets and tear gas, pushed , beaten and stoned in public by President Chavez´ Armed Groups for not supporting his regime, even if this means simply to manifestate on streets, with all the documents and permitions needed. Recently not only the opposition that manifestates, also journalists, students, priests, women, children, and whoever dares not to obey the regimen. This week a student named Jesus Oreano, was beaten, tortured, raped and held in the same cell with the Killer of Altamira by the Political Police. They even gave him a shot with a strange drug. A woman in Valencia was beaten by a National Guard, leaving her in intensive care with a brain concussion.
    What really worries us, Venezuelan is that there is no law. The Supreme Court and the People Defender are President Chavez´ acolites, leaving us the people defenseless. We plea that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights help us in our fight for human rights in Venezuela.


    Now I challenge anyone here to give me examples of How often and when any members of a oppostion party here are stoned to death Can anyone give me a example?

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    jacobin I realise you are trying to be cool an hip by posting those equally long and boring reports but you should also engage with the issue stifiling freedom of expression is always wrong wether in a socialist state or a neo-liberal one. It always crushes the country.
    Life is a beautiful magnificent thing, even to a jelly fish ~ Charlie Chaplin

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    Rainforest Tribes

    A Garden of Eden?

    Rainforests are very rich in natural resources, but they are also very fragile. For this reason, rainforest peoples have become instinctive conservationists. For them, conservation is literally a way of life. If they were to take too much food in one year, the forest would not be able to produce enough new food for them to be able to survive in the next year. Many rainforest tribes gather their food from small garden plots, which are shifted every few years. This method is less productive than western agriculture, but is also much less harmful to the rainforest environment. As they cannot produce food in large quantities, most tribes are forced to limit their numbers so their gardens and the products of hunting expeditions are able to feed them, and all tribes have a great respect for their forest and for the animals and plants they share it with.

    The rainforest lifestyle may sound like a kind of paradise, a Garden of Eden for the lucky few who live there. It certainly has its advantages. There is little stress, little mental illness and little high blood pressure among rainforest dwellers. Physical fitness is generally good, and few people need to work for more than four hours a day to provide themselves and their families with adequate food and other necessities. However, life is far from perfect. One in every two children born in the rainforest dies before their second birthday, and if they make it to forty years of age they are considered tribal elders. Most rain forest dwellers who make it through childhood tend to die from a disease trivial to western medicine.

    Sacrifice for Survival

    Competition for good hunting grounds is fierce, and there is often warfare between neighbouring groups when disputes over territorial rights break out. New-born babies are often killed by their mothers in order to prevent a group from growing too large to be supported by its territory.

    This is a major problem, as territories can be very large indeed.. It has been

    estimated that a group of eighty-four people needs a minimum territory of 640 square kilometres in order to be fully self-sufficient. Female babies are killed more often than males. There are a number of reasons for this: men are the hunters, so by having more males a group is able to send out more hunters in order to produce more food; men are also warriors, so the more adult males there are in a group, the better protected against enemies it will be; as men are warriors, many of them are killed in battles with neighbouring groups; by limiting the number of women in a group, the group's ability to reproduce is naturally restricted. Although these measures may seem harsh to us, they are perfectly logical and an essential feature of life in the rain forest. A group which becomes too large will starve, so selective killing of infants ensures the group's survival.

    Endangered Species

    This way of life has gone on uninterrupted for centuries, but is now under threat because of the invasion of the rain forest by outsiders - logging companies, mining operations and ranchers looking to make a quick profit by exploiting the natural resources to be found in the rain forests around the world. When you think of endangered species, you tend to think of animals or plants.

    It would be fair however to describe rainforest peoples as endangered species. Each tribe is unique, has its own culture, mythology, religious beliefs, art and ritual. There may be a great deal we can learn from them. We know already that there are a vast number of as yet undiscovered plants and animals in the rain forest. Tribal medicine men may hold in their heads the key to curing many of the world's as yet incurable diseases by using undocumented chemical compounds found in species of rain forest plants.

    At the moment, despite the efforts of pressure groups, little concern is being shown either for the welfare of the rain forest or of its inhabitants - animal or vegetable - by the governments in control of the vast, but shrinking, areas of rain forest still in existence.

    Even more frustrating is the knowledge that rain forest soil is very poor for growing c rops and turns to virtual desert within five years of losing its protective canopy of trees. Governments know this, yet still allow logging and ranching to continue on a huge scale. It is true that in the short term, huge amounts of money can be made from exploiting the rain forest in this way. But in the longer term, and here I mean no more than ten to fifteen years, there will simply be vast areas of desert where once there was rain forest.

    But I digress. Let us turn now to the fortunes of possibly the most famous of all the tribes of the rainforest, the Yanomami Indians of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela. I hope that by looking at this one example in detail it will be possible to examine the problems which face rainforest peoples all over the world.

    Protected Species

    As Amazonian Indian tribes go, the Yanomami have been lucky. Their traditional homelands were in the mountainous highlands of Brazil and Venezuela, away from the big rivers and relatively inaccessible. For this reason they were spared the ravaging effects of the previously unknown diseases brought by the Spanish conquistadors to South America during the seventeenth century, which wiped out many of the riverine tribes completely. Since then their territories have expanded into the lower valleys, but despite this, until recent times the only contact the Yanomami have had with whites had been through the occasional visits of scientists or missionaries.

    In 1985, however, a gold-rush on Yanomami lands in Brazil led to the influx of tens of thousands of miners and prospectors, overwhelming the small populations of local people. So far the Yanomami have been able to maintain their traditional customs, despite outside influences. After world-wide protest at the harsh treatment of the Yanomami, the Brazilian government was forced to grant the Yanomami 94,000 square kilometres of territory, an area larger than Scotland, in 1991. As has been noted above, even small groups need very large areas of territory in order to provide for themselves. The Yanomami know that if their population density increases, they will start to overuse their resources. Villages tend to fragment naturally through political rivalry and discontent as they become larger. This means that the average village population is kept down to between 50 and 70.

    Despite having the supposed protection of the Brazilian government, garimpeiros - illegal gold miners - continue to prospect on Yanomami lands. They have brought with them diseases that are either lethal or very difficult to control among the Yanomami. In 1991, a survey showed that half of all Brazil's Yanomami suffered from malaria, a disease previously unknown to them. Other diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis are killing large numbers of Indians, and the Brazilian national health service is not providing medicines in sufficient quantity to control the problem. It has also been found that people living downstream from the gold mines have unacceptably high levels of mercury in their bodies.

    And in Venezuela

    In Venezuela the Yanomami live in a biosphere reserve which is 83,000 square kilometres in area. The biosphere reserve was set up not only to protect the 11,000 or so Yanomami who live there, sharing the territory with the Yekuana tribe, but also to protect the rich rainforests of the region.

    For the Venezuelan Yanomami, it would seem that their biggest problem is the army, which has been moved into their lands in order to protect them from the Brazilian garimpeiros (see above). The morale of the officers and men alike is poor, and they take out their frustration on the Yanomami, through abuse, including rape.

    Further problems are caused by the frequent "scientific" expeditions into their lands. The Yanomami say that they learn nothing from the expeditions and that they do not believe that some of the visitors are scientists anyway. Eco-tourists are becoming more common intruders on rainforest people's lands.

    They should be reminded that in looking for that "unique jungle experience" they may bring with them diseases new to the tribes they encounter while having their "experience". It should be remembered that medical care for the Yanomami seems to be as inadequate in Venezuela as it is in Brazil.

    Left: The unique jungle experience.

    Rainforest Peoples - The Future

    In the case of the Yanomami, there is at least some cause for optimism. They now live on reserves approved by governments and seem to be maintaining their traditions. Clearly there is a need for better health care and for more sympathetic policing of their lands by the military. They are perhaps the most famous of all rain forest tribes, and are therefore protected to some extent by public opinion. There would be world-wide outcry if Yanomami lands were threatened by development or mining again.

    But how many other tribes are struggling for survival in the rainforests of the world? How many people have heard of the Kayapo, the Yekuana, the Iban, the Mehinacu or the Xikru? How much popular support could be rallied in their defence?

    Clearly, rain forest tribes throughout the world are in need of protection. This protection should be granted as soon as possible by the governments of their nation states, but is bound to take time. Most rain forest tribes live in poor countries. The forests are rich in natural resources and can make huge sums of money for a few years, thus making the countries involved richer. But after those few years all that remains is desert. Most former rain forest which has been exploited for other purposes will either take many years to recover, or will never recover at all. The only way to stop the destruction of the rain forests, of the animals and plants, and of the tribes which live in them is through greater public awareness of the problems we are creating for ourselves. By this I mean a world-wide realization of the importance of the rain forest and its inhabitants, and of the need for proper protection against its permanent destruction. The possibility of imposing trade sanctions upon countries which continue to destroy their rain forests is at time of writing a subject of debate at a meeting of worldwide conservation groups. Perhaps this is a hopeful sign for the future of the rain forest...

    Useful Reading

    1. The Law of the Mother
    Elizabeth Kemf (Ed), Sierra Club Books (1993).
    - Details of the problems facing tribal peoples all over the world, including the Yanomami.

    2. The Last Rainforests
    Dr Mark Collins (Ed), Guild Publishing (1990).
    - This is a general reference book about rain forests, which also has some information on tribes living in them.

    Information supplied by the Young Peoples Trust for the Environment

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by jady88
    jacobin I realise you are trying to be cool an hip by posting those equally long and boring reports but you should also engage with the issue stifiling freedom of expression is always wrong wether in a socialist state or a neo-liberal one. It always crushes the country.
    Isn't it time Trefor's pet Jacobin/Zeitgeist was banned :

    He adds nothing useful to any thread he enters.

  9. #9


    stifiling freedom of expression is always wrong wether in a socialist state or a neo-liberal one
    Well said

    jady88 I see from your profile tag is young progresive democrats
    Since at present the party are in coalation with Fianna Fail Im sure the Pds have been Critised from time to time But Do the Pds Like Chavez send people to jail for 20 months over it? So while a genocide denier like Jacobin can live here Critise what he wants While at same time support A country that suppresses Freedom of speech is double standards to say the least

  10. #10 Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    0 Post(s)


    Quote Originally Posted by The Butcher's Apron
    Quote Originally Posted by jady88
    jacobin I realise you are trying to be cool an hip by posting those equally long and boring reports but you should also engage with the issue stifiling freedom of expression is always wrong wether in a socialist state or a neo-liberal one. It always crushes the country.
    Isn't it time Trefor's pet Jacobin/Zeitgeist was banned :

    He adds nothing useful to any thread he enters.
    Is that me you are referring to? Maybe you would perfer i just lobbed in a big spandling report on the weather in laois. Rather be someones pet than still a dirtty shinner
    Life is a beautiful magnificent thing, even to a jelly fish ~ Charlie Chaplin

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