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Geneva and Caracas – Venezuela has formally declared it has removed all minefields from its territory in compliance with its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention. The declaration was made in Geneva today, at the Convention’s Thirteenth Meeting of the States Parties.

“It is my honour to formally announce that a team from the Venezuelan armed forces, which was led by the now retired Major General Gilberto Antonio Barrios Contreras, removed the last 658 anti-personnel mines of the 1,073 planted in our territory, in three coordinated and simultaneous demining operations between February and March this year,” said Brigadier General Jose Ramón Moreno of the Demining Unit of the National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

“Venezuela made a solemn commitment to comply with this Convention and we have done so using our own financial means, human resources and know-how, showing great national ownership,” said Brigadier General Moreno.

“The task was challenging, with the minefields located in enclaves of tropical rainforest and in regions that feature seasonal heavy rains and regular flooding. We now have the expertise and experience to assist other mine-affected countries that face similar challenges and look forward to the Americas being free of landmines.”

The Venezuelan delegation to the Meeting of States Parties also included Lieutenant Colonel Reynaldo Lara.

The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was adopted in Oslo in 1997, opened for signature in Ottawa the same year and entered into force on 1 March 1999.

Since entering into force, millions of square metres of once dangerous lands have been released for normal human activity and over 44.5 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed.

For press inquiries, contact: Laila Rodriguez press(at)apminebanconvention.org or +41 (0) 22 906 1656. Find the Convention on FacebookFlickr and Twitter.