After passing a motion by majority vote on Tuesday, Venezuela’s National Assembly will launch an inquiry into the expropriations of privately owned land and enterprises spearheaded by the socialist government in past years.
The country’s newly elected parliament, dominated by the right-wing opposition, has vowed to reverse the socialist government’s social and economic policies, which included the breakup of large private firms and landholdings deemed unproductive and their transfer to state, worker, or communal control.
According to the legislative body’s Finance Commission, the investigation will extend to expropriated plantations, enterprises, and agro-industries with aim of “comparing the levels of production before and after expropriation”.
A key target of the parliamentary audit is the state agricultural enterprise Agropatria, which was created following the expropriation of the Spanish agricultural firm Agroisleña.
As the main provider of credits to small farmers, Agropatria has nonetheless been criticized for its failure to promote large-scale agricultural production in the oil-rich country, which has imported the majority of its food items for decades.
State expropriations have also turned over of large tracks of privately-owned land to small farmers and communes under Venezuela’s revolutionary land law, which permits the breakup of idle, outsized states and legalizes campesino land occupations.
A principal beneficiary of this policy has been the country’s growing commune movement which fused direct democratic self-governance with enterprise geared towards local and regional consumption.
In an open letter addressed to President Nicolas Maduro, communes from northwestern Lara state have denounced what they view as the Venezuelan opposition’s first step in revoking their land rights.
The communards took aim at the opposition governor of Lara state, Henri Falcon, who recently called for expropriated firms and plantations to be “returned” to their previous owners, while dismissing the new enterprises and communes as unproductive.
The letter went on to condemn the newly formed National Council of Productive Economy, which Maduro stacked with senior government officials, including Falcon, and top business leaders.
“No dialogue is possible with the Venezuelan ‘business’ sector because that sector doesn’t exist here, in its place there is a string of tie-wearing parasites desperate to obtain more preferential dollars to import goods, half of which they sell here at black market prices and the other half they smuggle to Colombia,” the communards wrote.
The Lara communes called for support from the national government, underlining the achievements of their five communal enterprises, including the construction of 205 houses and two schools, gas distribution to three municipalities, as well as the production of nearly 13 million kilos of corn and 400,000 kilos of meat, among other goods.