By Sofía Pisani / Voice of America January 17, 2020 Thirty percent of Venezuela’s gold production is destined for contraband, according to data from the nongovernmental organization Transparencia Venezuela.During a speech at the headquarters of the think tank the Atlantic Council, experts warned about illegal mining activities, contraband, displacement, and violence taking place in Venezuela due to gold mining, with the consent of the Nicolás Maduro government.Venezuelan journalist Lisseth Boon, from digital website Runrun.es, who described the illegal mining operations in Venezuela, took part in the event. The journalist believes that the Maduro regime has opted for that activity as a lifeline to stay in power.“The mining arc was created to bring order to the mining activity, but it has become anarchy and informality. The state has allowed all these types of illegal activities, which are controlled by the military,” said Boon.The journalist also warned about how government agencies are being used to formalize the irregular activity.“The legal mechanisms are formalizing or laundering this gold that comes from the Orinoco mining arc. They’re also selling the nation’s gold reserves. Since Nicolás Maduro came to power the reserves have diminished by 60 percent, and are sold abroad to customers with a ‘murky’ reputation,” she said.“Nonprofit organizations estimate that an average of 80 tons of gold are being smuggled from Venezuela each year through illegal means, without any kind of accountability,” Boon added.According to Boon, smuggling routes start in the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonnaire, and Curaçao. By land, trafficking occurs on the border between Colombia and Brazil.Douglas Farah, security expert and president of IB Consultants, addressed the combination of criminal activities in the Venezuelan Amazon and the risks its inhabitants face by being exposed to violence from illegal armed groups and human rights abuses.“Since it’s a lucrative business, it attracts prostitution, many times of minors; human trafficking; slavery, a series of things that violate human rights, focused on a sole business that is terrible,” Farah said.Farah also warned about the environmental damage caused by these illegal activities.“The most obvious consequence, in terms of the environment, is the total destruction of rivers, forests where there are animals, because the mercury used to extract the gold contaminates everything,” the security expert said.Farah told Voice of America that controlling gold trafficking is much more complex than other illegal activities, such as narcotrafficking, since there is a consensus to fight it. By contrast, “with gold, building a legal framework to control the practice is complicated, because once it leaves Venezuela, it belongs to whomever buys it and there’s no way to prove whether it belongs to them or not.”The IB Consultants expert said the possibility of sanctioning financial businesses, corporations, or entities abroad that profit from the purchase of Venezuelan gold in the black market is being considered.
21SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Myriam DiGiovanni After writing for Credit Union Times and The Financial Brand, Myriam DiGiovanni covers financial literacy for FinancialFeed. She is also a storytelling expert and works with credit unions to help … Web: www.financialfeed.com Details As you are juggle finding just the right gifts and planning the perfect holiday get together, there is one more item that should be on your to-do list…your finances.According to ConsumerReports.org, this is the best month to take inventory of your finances and make moves to ensure you are financially stronger heading into 2019.Here are just a few things to check off your list before year-end.Do a budget check: Take a few minutes to see where you stand. Did you meet your goals? If you fell short somewhere, what happened? Is it time for a different strategy or more relevant goals to meet future needs? Let’s face it, life can often get in the way of the best laid plans. Now is the time to evaluate where you are now and what your needs are moving forward. Making adjustments is not a sign of “failing” or that “budgeting doesn’t work”. Making a course correction is just a normal part of life. We adapt and move forward.Check your benefits: Review your 401(k), flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts etc. Flexible spending accounts are “use it or lose it”. Make sure the money you’ve already paid for health care coverage, is not being left on the table. That’s your money. Find out deadlines, file those receipts and get reimbursed. If you have extra money to put toward retirement and haven’t reached the maximum 401(k) contribution of $18,500 for the year, the deadline to do so is Dec. 31. If your employer offers a company match, that’s free money. Don’t forget about your HSAs. A family can contribute up to $6,900 and an individual can contribute up to $3,450 for 2018. Unlike FSAs, unused HSA funds rollover and can be used at anytime for eligible medical expenses. Maximize it while you can.Schedule those medical appointments: According to Consumer Reports, November is the slowest month for doctors. It’s a good time to get those check-ups and procedures you’ve been putting off. Another bonus is that this late in the year, if you haven’t already met your deductible, you are likely close to doing so. Time it right and that can be a savings of at least a few hundred dollars.Give to those less fortunate: It’s not only the perfect season to spread good cheer, but that charitable donation could double as a tax deduction. Don’t forget to save your receipts.Get a jump on tax season: Take a few moments to gather all relevant receipts for tax time and store in one place. Hopefully you’ve been doing this all along but if not, don’t worry there’s still time. Thinking about the year and starting now will ensure nothing slips through the cracks.