I finally reached the main bone of contention in the land struggle in Barquisimeto, the Bureche farm owned by local oligarch, Eduardo Gomez Sigala, currently president of the National Chamber of Commerce & Services (Consecomercio) and by all accounts, opposition candidate for a seat in the next parliament.
On recovering Bureche farm, National lands Institute (INTI) officials faced an angry oligarch opposing what he calls the blatant invasion of private property. Officials countered stating that Gomez Sigala has had sufficient time to introduce papers since the decision to recover State lands did not come out of the blue.
Once the legal aspects were clarified, the Pedro Camejo mechanized company started clearing the land of old sugarcane and planting maize. According to INTI director, Juan Carlos Loyo, only five hectares of sugarcane on Gomez' spread was of any value and 8 hectares was being used for horse-grazing. There is no hacienda but rather stables for horses, a paddock for show jumping, a bowling square (bolas criollas), bar with barbecue, house for the foreman and enclosed shed at the entrance.
The Venezuelan Agrarian Corporation (CVA) has allowed one of Gomez Sigala's employees to remain on the site to feed, exercise and take care of the horses, each of which has a stable.
Pedro Camejo and CVA have placed their own militia members on the site for a week's training in drills and debates. Eduardo Gomez Sigala, considered head of the clan, has stated publicly that he will rescue the lands sooner rather than later ... whatever that means!
The nearby Papelon farm owned by relative, Jose Antonio Tamayo is in full view of the Rio Turbio sugar plant whose shareholders are all members of the big-names league in the valley. The village of Papelon is literally sandwiched in the middle of Tamayo's lands and only accessible by a public road.
What strikes one immediately in walking through the main street is why for all that is sacred and holy the houses are packed together and not spaced out given that the village is surrounded by fields?