Twenty-four of Venezuela’s 28 indigenous groups live in the Guayana region. These groups make up 11.5 percent of the regional population and occupy and use 80 percent of the region (see Figure 6: Overlap between mineral deposits and traditional indigenous territories). Some groups, such as the Yanomami and the Hoti, have lived in relative isolation until very recently. Many of Venezuela’s Amerindians depend on forest resources for their survival. One study of the Piaroa indigenous people in Amazonas state concluded that communities received far more nutritional and economic benefit from the consumption of forest resources than they could possibly afford to purchase if they were to become low-skilled day laborers in the nearby capital of Amazonas state, Puerto Ayacucho.
Indigenous communities are not well protected under Venezuelan law. Because most indigenous peoples live in areas considered “unoccupied” or protected, they are vulnerable to having their lands opened for development projects, mining and timber concessions, and tourism lodges.  Furthermore, national government policies and access to urban markets have led some communities to become more sedentary and to undertake nontraditional activities, such as mining.  In addition, extractive activities and tourism on indigenous lands have had a noticeable impact on Venezuela’s indigenous communities.
Indigenous peoples’ policy
Article 77 of the Venezuelan constitution states that the nation is committed to bettering the lives of the rural population, with specific reference to “the protection of indigenous communities and their progressive incorporation into the Nation.”171 The importance of this article is that it assigns special preference for indigenous communities (regimen de excepci