On reading in the news about the invasion by squatters on a farm belonging to the parents of TV tourism personality, Valentina Quintero, I felt that Daniel Curvale could perhaps offer some advice because something similar happened to him but without any death or physical threats hanging over his head.
Valentina is well known for her TV series showing tourism sites throughout Venezuela, visiting restaurants, hotels and hostels and updating yearly her famous tourist guide book moulded on Lonely Planet and Frommers.
Daniel Curvale is Argentinean from the Matadero barrio en Buenos Aires, and of course a fan of Boca Juniors. He came to Venezuela in 1975 and started a food business in Barquisimeto, learning how to make the local cornbread known as the arepa and traditional combinations of fillings from ham and grated cheese to shredded beef and black beans. He bought a small 2-hectares farm, at first raising a couple of horses at first and later planting vegetables and maize. His attempts to raise pigs and sheep failed because they ended up being stolen, despite Daniel having a caretaker on the farm. The only thing that did work without problems was his farming of Californian worms for compost.
A few weeks ago 35 families invaded the property. He had word it was going to happen and took a practical approach deciding to seek dialogue rather than confrontation. He drew up a line between himself and the squatters, handing them 13,000 square meters and keeping 6,000 for himself and his house. Daniel then got in contact with a relevant government institute to see if they could oblige by preparing the ground for housing development and infrastructure.
Curvale (right) obtained the aid of an architect to meet the squatters, the majority of whom are single mothers, to plan urbanization topography and a lawyer has offered to help with setting up a legal agreement, fixing the communal use of the ceded land and ensuring for example that the 25 x 7 meter shed he donated will be used exclusively as a community center and the 98,000 liter water tank and 20 meter deep well is to benefit the community and not any individual.
Another clause that Curvale would like to see introduced is that individual plots cannot be sold for at least 10 years to beat the cheats and "squatter careerists."
What the people are doing at the moment is organizing a housing committee and holding meetings with government agencies to set up an self-building program to avoid the area becoming an eventual zinc ranches slum.