On Thursday, May 23, a commission of the Bolivarian National Guard and the Barinas police arrived at Hato Las Mercedes, located in the municipality of Pedraza in the state of Barinas, with the intention of carrying out the eviction of the peasant councils that have been fighting for years to rescue these lands. The eviction order, which contravenes what was authorized by the National Institute of Lands (INTI) in March 2018, was issued by the agrarian judge of Socopó, Orlando Contreras, for the benefit of the landowning family Riera Zubillaga, in an attempt to frustrate the administrative legal process that, complying with all that the law demands, the peasant councils have been developing with the INTI.
After three days of tension, the eviction action was stopped yesterday thanks to the determination and resistance of the peasant men and women who are fighting and sowing there, the high level of organization of the peasant councils and the actions of the Revolutionary Current of Bolívar and Zamora through their media and leaders Pedro Alvarado, and Juan Carlos Pinto, deputy to the State Legislative Council, who presented themselves in the property in accompaniment and defense of the peasants, to mediate with the military and police authorities present in the property. Thus, with dignity, firmness, organization, participation and capacity for dialogue, it was possible for the military and police to evacuate the property, after the establishment of working groups to deal in depth with the situation of the peasant councils and the process of rescuing the cattle, without this entailing the eviction of the people or the destruction of the crops developed until now on the site.
The struggle of the peasants of Hato Las Mercedes is added to that of thousands and thousands of men and women in the Venezuelan countryside who, today, do not give up in the fight for the democratization of the land. Like these people, in other states of the country thousands of peasants in struggle suffer intimidation, aggression, threats. In all cases, there is a common element: the backlog and delay of administrative and technical processes on the part of INTI to implement the land rescue processes, and the actions of the agrarian mafias, mainly through judicial and violent means, to frustrate and reverse the processes initiated by the peasantry and INTI.
The latifundia, according to our legal system, is contrary to the public interest and constitutes a hindrance that must necessarily be overcome for the country to advance in the productive development of the countryside: as long as there are in the hands of a few families huge tracts of land in a state of unproductiveness, we will not be able as a people to achieve the goals of agrarian development and food sovereignty, as well as social security and good living of the peasant people.
If state and private agribusiness, small and medium producers and public and private banks have a role to play in the achievement of these great national goals, which we recognize, it is also necessary to state that the role that the peasant people, the men and women of the countryside who until the arrival of the Bolivarian revolution had been neglected, excluded, oppressed, is neither minor nor secondary to this strategic mission. In this sense, it is urgent that the country’s agrarian authorities, that is, the Ministry of People’s Power for Agriculture and Lands and the National Land Institute (INTI), open spaces so that, with all the breadth and seriousness that is required, with the participation and protagonism of the people who know how to produce, without the preeminence of economic groups and power elites, a clear policy is constructed, In addition to the essential democratization of land and the fight against latifundia, a coherent and sustained policy is needed for all aspects of a national agrarian policy (financing and provision of supplies, machinery and technical assistance, collection and distribution of production), a policy that involves concrete plans, with specific goals established, execution schedules, publicly assumed responsibilities, monitoring, control, follow-up and evaluation mechanisms.
The current circumstances in Venezuela, determined by the growing US aggression and the worsening economic crisis, make it necessary to address the reactivation of rural production as a strategic national priority. Faced with the failure of the US political strategy in the country’s domestic arena, the elites that govern the country are definitely taking the option of increasing illegal sanctions and the trade and financial blockade in order to economically suffocate the country.