View of an old Mapa Mundi showing the location of Venezuela in the map right in the middle between Colombia, Brazil and the Caribbean Sea on the north. Venezuela is country with a very complex current socio-political situation and deep economic crisis making it the country with the highest inflation in the world despite being a very rich country in oil and other natural resources such as gold, coltan and diamonds.
View of the Auyan Tepui at dawn from the Churun River in Canaima National Park in Canaima National Park in Venezuela and house of the Pemon Kamarakoto indigenous group (or better said, the National Park is in their house and historical territory and not them inside the park) and craddle of the Kerepakupai Vená most known as "Angel Falls", the highest water falls in the world.
Mayelis,with her school on the background, leaves for her house after a cultural event to recieve some visitors coming to Santa Marta, a very rare situation on these days in which tourism has been constantly reducing as well as support from the outside.
View of the border of the rainforest reflected on the Carrao River close to Canaima Town in Canaima National Park in Venezuela. The area represents a reserve of water and virgin rain forest with a very unique ecosystem but is as well rich in minerals such as diamonds, gold and coltan, but the indiscriminate explotaition of these resources are representing a big menace to this fragil balance and a particular source of money in a very hard hit Venezuelan socio-economic situation.
Mrs Hortencia Berti, a Pemon social leader and former Captain of the Kamarata Valley stands for a picture at the lodge she co-manages in Kavak area. The lodge is a community directed project and the collected money is invested in the village as it belongs to the inhabitants of the area and is not privately owned.
Aerial view of the gold mine known as "La Guarimba" in Canaima National Park. In recent years, as the economic crisis in Venezuela has been getting bigger, the exploitation of natural resources on the park has been constantly increasing with Gold being the main activity but also diamonds and coltan. Despite some efforts of the government and local indigenous authorities the activity has proliferated and is now registered in many areas of the park and its rivers.
Dyptich: View of a kilo of rice imported from Brazil and on a scale the equivalent of its local price in gold of 0.38 grams or $7.6 USD at Kamarata town in Canaima. Due to scarcity of products and very little circulation of cash money people have been force to deal with gold, the only useful and coveted daily currency.
Rubí, a young child inhabitant of Santa Marta hamlet in Kamarata Valley stands for a picture after a cultural event to greet some visitors. Mr. Cesar Cardona, her school teacher and organizer of the activity says that for students like Rubi the situation has become hard to handle as they struggle to cover the basic needs of students both at school and at home.
Airplane pilot Captain Francisco Pizani balances a little stone over his thumb and talks about a Pemon legend of a giant stone in the Auyan Tepui that with its balance controls the balance of the world and when it will fall the world will comes to an end.
View of a portrait of Jimmy Angel, the american pilot that first flought over the Auyan Tepui and that was the first to inform about the water falls that later recieved the name of Angel Falls, the highest waterfalls in the world. Pictures are part of an album with fotocopies of a collection of images by Ruth Robertson, an american photographer that extensively photographed the area for National Geographic and that was the first to measure the Angel Falls and confirmed it as the highest in the world.
Mr. Carlos Abati, english teacher at "Victor Carvajal" school in Kamarata village says that is a very difficult time for both teachers and students. Mr. Carlos himself has not taken his salry for more than one year as the trip to the closest bank is more expensive than all the money saved in his account. The students on their side have been dropping school to work on gold mining as parents many times can't afford the expenses.
Two young students of Kamarata highschool stand for a portrait in a small road of the town. When asked for their names and what they dream to work or study they had a laughing attack that made it impossible for them to answer. Pemon communities are very friendly and open but in areas like Kamarata village, with the decreasing of tourism in recent years younger generations are less used to see strangers or foreigners in the town.
View of the Auyan Tepui at dusk from the small community of Kaval in Kamarata Valley of Canaima National Park in Venezuela and house of the Pemon Kamarakoto indigenous group (or better said, the National Park is in their house and historical territory and not them inside the park). For the Pemon community the Auyan Tepui was the mountain of the devil and some kind of evil forces called Imawarí, they show high respect to that mountain that is as well the craddle of Angel Falls, the highest water falls in the world.
An old tractor rests abandoned on the road that connects Kamarata Village and Kavak community in Canaima National Park in Venezuela.
Dyptich: View of a kilo of black beans imported from Brazil and on a scale the equivalent of its local price in gold of 0.30 grams or $6 USD at Kamarata town in Canaima. Due to scarcity of products and very little circulation of cash money people have been force to deal with gold, the only useful and coveted daily currency.
Mr. Cosme Palacios, an inhabitant of a little hamlet in the surroundings of Kamarata village stands for a picture with the bags of subsidized food that for him just created more dependence and a bad habit of recieving low priced food instead of locally producing more. Mr. Palacios has worked at the weather station for more than 20 years and now talks about a station with instruments and machines almost not working due to lack of pieces and maintenance.
View of a gold mine area right on the end of Kamarata Village very close to the important Auyan Tepui Mountain in Canaima National Park in Venezuela . As the crisis has been hitting harder the live of Venezuela, the mining activity has been constantly increasing and in this case is placed in the heart of the National Park and literally in the backyard of the Village destroying the soil and polluting the water.
View of the pieces of a broken mirror in the middle of a path close to Canaima village. Canaima local society and life in the area in general seems to be increasingly breaking with difficulties at all levels of daily life with political and military corruption, rampant inflation, illegal gold mining and pollution and constant decay of tourism, the main activity of the region.
Aquiles, a young inhabitant of Santa Marta hamlet in Kamarata Valley, pose for a picture while simulating to use a blowpipe, a very common tool used for hunting and of which Pemon community are very proud for the strong skills using it.
View of a store in Canaima town that sells most of the products for a daily modern life but very expensive to afford by local inhabitants. The money, once from tourism and now from gold, that
At the Santa Marta Elementary School a card of an indian boy is seen pinned on a classroom billboard. There is a constant mixed feeling for the struggle against stereotypes and simplication of the indigenous different cultures and the respect for traditions and elements that belong to their history
Arturo Berti, a local tour guide and pro-ecologist of the area is seen standing for a portrait inside a canyon inside the Auyan Tepui mountain in Canaima National Park in Venezuela.
View of a board stating "Octuber 12th, DAY OF INDIGENOUS RESISTANCE" on a classroom of "Victor Carvajal" School in Kamarata Village. In recent years, as part of a Panamerican emancipatory process, the indigenous communities have been working on changing the discourse from the 12 of Octuber as the day of the Discovery of America for that one of the date of the beggining of the resistance of the native inhabitants to the colonialist forces.
A toy gun made of wood is seen at the house of little brothers Corentin and Victor in Kamarata Village. Pemon communities, in relation to other indigenous groups in Venezuela, are in a relative good social condition being more organized and less affected by violence and drugs. This fragile situation is at risk with the gold exploitation that menace to take over their territory bringing with it a whole set of problems.
Cesar Cardona, school teacher of Santa Marta remote Pemon community, stands for a picture at the entrance of the hamlet. For Mr. Cardona the times have been hard as students are not able to get most of the basic material for lessons but this crisis has as well increased their creativity to rethink the activities and even their own cultural expressions.
An entanglenment of roots and branches is seen in the middle of a walk towards a remote Pemon community in Santa Marta area of Kamarata Valley. The area, as the whole Canaima National Park is living a very difficult situation dealing with gold mining, preservation of the nature and the local culture, shortage in food and cash and decay of turism, the main source of income for the area.
Mayelis together with her little brother are seeing playing on a tree on a common area of Santa Marta hamlet after school hours and a cultural act to greet visitors. Santa Marta has only elementary school and students looking for highschool education must take a long way to Kamarata village, one reason, together with lack of resources for the constant dropping of educational process in the area.
At Santa Marta community, view of a table covered with with some spilled Kumachi sauce, a very appreciated hot sauce made of a poisonous juice from yucca long time processed to change its properties, and then mixed with wild chilies and bachacos, a kind of big ants. For local indigenous communities the yucca is one of the most important products as it gives bread, sauce, juices and even ritual recreational alcoholic drinks.