CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Thursday urged the European Union to officially label as “blood gold” the precious metal informally mined in the country’s southern jungles as he seeks to increase pressure on the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro’s government since 2016 has supported artesanal mining in the Venezuelan Amazon to bring in revenue amid an economic crisis, an effort that expanded as Washington increased sanctions meant to force the ruling Socialist Party from power.
The initiative has been criticized by environmental activists and rights groups for contaminating watersheds with mercury and fueling massacres as gangs battle for territory.
In an interview with Reuters, Guaido said the EU should use a label to limit the trade of Venezuelan gold, the way the “blood diamond” campaign of the 1990s targeted diamond sales that financed armed conflict in Africa.
“I think Europe can take steps in this direction by not allowing the trade of (Venezuelan) gold in Europe… and to clearly label it ‘blood gold,’” Guaido said. “What is it used for in Venezuela? To finance irregular (armed) groups,” he said, referring to Colombian guerrillas that are increasingly present near gold mining operations.
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