On June 5, 2015, activists from the grassroots organization staged an extremely large protest outside of the Supreme Court of Venezuela. The protest was to demand that an injunction needed to be placed, halting the massive mining project that is being overseen and profited from by the portion of the government that supports Maduro.
The protest demonstration was organized by a group called Platform for the Nullity of the Mining Arc. This group is composed of a great number of movements building an alliance. The group does contain government officials from the opposition and public intellectuals. The group was organized specifically because of a law being passed allowing more than 12% of the nation’s territory to become open-pit mining, which poses serious hazards to the residents surrounding these areas.
Why the Open-Pit Mining Was Allowed
Because of the economic downfall of the country, in February of 2016, President Maduro used his emergency economic decree powers. He pushed the Supreme Court into allowing almost 112 square kilometers of land to become an open-pit mine or a “strategic development zone.” According to insider Norka Luque this area will be available to more than 150 firms nationally with the sole purpose of extracting as much gold, diamonds, coltan, and iron as possible.
Even amid the protest outside the Supreme Court, the government upheld its decision claiming that it is absolutely necessary due to the rapid collapse of the economy that was caused by the drop in petroleum prices, which according to Luque was Venezuela’s main source of income, and the majority of this income was obtained through foreign currency, which has been blocked as a result of the condition of the petroleum situation.