Venezuela Indians release soldiers held captive
By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER, Associated Press
Updated 2:46 pm, Sunday, February 10, 2013
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A representative of Venezuela's Pemon Indians said Sunday that men in a remote village have released several dozen soldiers they had been holding captive.
Levi Gonzalez said he had spoken with Pemon men in the village of Uriman, where members of the community decided to release the soldiers after government representatives agreed to allow them to keep mining and to avoid prosecution for seizing the soldiers.
Gonzalez said dozens of people in the village and nearby communities, angered over abuses by soldiers and military operations aimed at dismantling gold mining equipment and camps, had taken 43 soldiers as hostages on Thursday.
"That's what brought us to such an extreme," Gonzalez said in a telephone interview from Santa Elena de Uairen, a town located near Venezuela's border with Brazil. "Mining has always been part of our way of life. We are not getting rich, just surviving."