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Venezuela: Zamorian farm in in full production; a beacon for agrarian reform

By Patrick J. O'Donoghue  Posted by Roy S. Carson (about the submitter)     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 11/20/09

Carlos Gutierrez says he is 45 years old and is one of the leaders of the Ana Soto Zamorian farm near the village of Bobare (Lara State).

It's funny how things come back to you, but I remembered, today, that a Spanish priest, who used to visit the villages in the Bobare area to say Mass in the 1980s, started researching land tenancy after hearing complaints by small landholders that they were being forced off their land by outsiders claiming legal possession with the help of local authorities and of course, the National Guard (GN).

Carlos tells the story of one Guatimosin Silva, who started annexing land in the 1980s using false legal papers. The clergyman, as I remember, started visiting registry offices to find title rights and papers to help the peasants.

One of the methods that Silva used was to circle a peasant hamlet with barbed wire and afterwards claim legal rights over the whole area, forcing people to evacuate their village, using bulldozers to smash houses and clear the area, supposedly for agriculture.

When he tried that in 1985 with Carlos' hamlet of Los Rastrojitos, Carlos and five others reacted at first legally (where they were doomed to failure) and then in physical resistance to any encroachment by Silva and his henchmen. The struggle led him and his colleagues to prison in 1995 after a shootout with Silva's hired guns.

Their release in 1998 saw Carlos joining the election campaign in which Hugo Chavez emerged as President of Venezuela. Carlos organized several cooperatives in the first two years, and engaged in direct action preventing any harvest or machinery from entering or leaving the area.

The land law and contact with the National Lands Institute (INTI) gave Carlos and colleagues the green light to tackle Guatimosin Silva for not working the land and for renting out vast tracts to third parties for gain.

INTI has reclaimed 1,470 hectares and the Ana Soto Zamorian farm has 318 hectares on which to toil.

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