September 30, 2021

Senators Menendez, Rubio, Kaine, Cardin and Cruz Introduce Resolution on Illicit Gold Mining in Latin America

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ranking Member and Chairman of the SFRC Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, as well as Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in introducing a Senate Resolution calling attention to the rise in illicit mining and trafficking of gold in Latin America.

As the profits derived from illicit gold mining and trafficking surpass those generated by coca and cocaine production, the bipartisan Resolution outlines the pervasive challenges such practices pose for security, stability, and the environment in the Western Hemisphere. The Resolution also expresses the Senate’s staunch support for the rights of rural and indigenous populations adversely affected by the surge in illicit mining practices, urging better coordination with governments and industry actors to mitigate the risks posed by illicit gold flows out of hotspots like Venezuela, where approximately 90 percent of gold extracted is mined illegally.

“The astounding proliferation of illicit mining and trafficking over the last decade has degraded the environment and undermined legal trade. It has also led to heinous human rights abuses, largely against rural and indigenous communities, and incited a malaria epidemic that has reached levels not seen in the past 75 years,” Chairman Menendez said. “In Venezuela, Maduro has cast off the fetters of basic morality to continue lining the pockets of his regime from the illegal gold trade. I am proud to introduce this critical Resolution to combat illicit gold mining, making clear the United States Congress will not ignore the imperilment of the health, security, or safety of populations throughout the Western Hemisphere.”

“As illegal mining and gold trafficking continues to wreak havoc on communities across Latin America, it is important the U.S. Senate calls for better coordination to counter this illicit activity,” Senator Rubio said. “Back in 2018, during the Eighth Summit of the Americas, I was briefed by members of our diplomatic corps in Lima about the significant regional threat illegal gold mining poses for our national security interests. Since then, I have remained committed to tackling this grave issue – which enriches malign actors in our hemisphere.”

“Illicit gold mining and trafficking in Latin America threatens U.S. national security and jeopardizes the safety, stability, and environment of the region and its people,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in calling attention to this critical issue. We must work with our partners in the region to counter illicit mining and hold accountable those who condone and promote it, including the Maduro regime in Venezuela.”

“The rise in illicit mining and trafficking of gold in Latin America poses a serious threat to the security, stability, and environment of the region,” said Senator Cardin. “I have long been a champion of anti-corruption efforts, particularly transparency and regulation in global mining industries, and am proud to support this resolution – which also contributes to the human rights of the rural and indigenous populations that have been deeply affected by illicit gold mining practices.”

“I’ve long worried about the use of gold as a monetary instrument of illicit finance. The Maduro regime traffics gold and precious metals to fuel its malign activities, including by exporting it abroad,” Senator Cruz said. “In 2018 alone, Turkey purchased nearly a billion dollars of Venezuelan gold—more than the total trade between the two countries in the previous five years combined. We must make a concerted effort to disrupt such flow of illicit precious metals.”

Find a copy of the resolution HERE.

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