Venezuelan Smuggling Opens Door to Blood Diamond Trade

blooddiamond-movie-poster-sml.jpg“Crooks are taking Venezuelan diamonds out of the country and selling them to other crooks.

In November, the Venezuelan government will report to an intergovernmental entity about the controls used to regulate diamond mining.

By Stephen Leahy

Oct 22 (Tierramérica).- Venezuela will have to explain its policies on mining and exporting diamonds at the next annual session of the Kimberley Process, an intergovernmental initiative to halt the use of the diamond industry to finance conflicts and civil wars.

The Venezuelan government has recognized that it is not easy to monitor its vast border, but assures that it intends to comply with the Kimberley Process, of which it is one of the three South American members, along with Brazil and Guyana.

Venezuela is not involved in the smuggling of the so-called conflict diamonds, or “blood diamonds”, uncut stones that in the past two decades were mined and trafficked to finance civil wars and illegal armed groups in countries like Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

But Caracas has not complied with providing statistics and reports for the Kimberley Process (KP) certification system, which imposes broad requirements for its members to ensure that its diamonds are outside the illegal circuit, Karel Kovanda, current KP chair, representing the European Commission, told Tierramérica from Brussels.

The Process acknowledges that there were “serious indications of non-compliance” by Venezuela, Kovanda said.

However, since participating in at a KP Intercessional meeting in June, Venezuela has initiated steps to dispel concerns with the release of trade and production statistics, he said.

“Discussions on the organization of a review visit by KP independent experts are ongoing,” he added.

Regardless, Venezuela’s non-compliance will be put before the upcoming KP Plenary meeting, which will take place on Nov. 5-8 in Brussels, Kovanda said.

The reports of irregularities came from the non-governmental Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), which was active in setting up the Kimberley Process, an agreement of 47 governments, the international diamond industry and civil society groups, backed by the United Nations, with the aim of halting trafficking of conflict diamonds.

Venezuelan diamonds are being openly mined and smuggled into Guyana and Brazil, according to PAC.

“Crooks are taking Venezuelan diamonds out of the country and selling them to other crooks” said Ian Smillie, PAC research coordinator.

To read the complete story, including the Venezuelan government’s response please click on: Venezuelan Diamonds Under the Microscope

Related stories:

Blood Diamonds and Prosecuting Child Soldiers for War Crimes

Sierra Leone’s Blood Diamonds and the Kimberley Process

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