(Spanish) Venezuela: agrarian reform, turmoil expected.

Vanessa DD jajije at SPAMcantv.net
Wed Apr 4 09:45:57 MDT 2001


Land reform in Venezuela is such a mess! There are few things here that
create more turmoil. I personally get to listen to the trouble every day,
from family friends who are worried, from many in the Venezuelan colony in
Miami, etc.

The biggest problem here, is that 'squatters rights' are often used by one
big land owner to steal land from another. He will pay a few hundred native
families to go settle on a piece of land, they will build their cardboard
houses in that land, stay for a few years, there will be a legal fight for
the land, they claim squatter's rights, then sell the land to the guy who
gave them the job, and move soemwhere else to do the same thing. Many native
families are used in this way, and live their whole lives doing thse
'invasions', as they are called here. I have many students who tell me of
how their mothers do this as a career, and my father tells me of his friends
who fight each other for land in this way.

SO, how do we keep these people from being used thus? They LIKE doing this,
because it's income without any effort: you just have to go sit there for a
year or two, and sell drugs meanwhile. This is a normal part of their native
culture. But their lives are pathetic. This is why I teach these children:
those are the leaders of the future that can change this. I personally doubt
that a law can fix the problem: we have to change the culture of the people
first. Because this is a country where you are considered STUPID if you
cannot find a way to get around your work, to get paid without doing
anything. Like Karl said in a manuscript I read last night: it's a constant
of workers trying to cheat their boss and viceversa. Here, not doing
anything and still getting paid is considered a sign of INTELLIGENCE. The
labor unions are an excellent example: the leaders care little for the
worker's welfare, but make sure that their friends and themselves get paid
WITHOUT working, or they use the poor and uneducated workers to get what
they want by calling a strike. In the local construction union, for example,
they have a law: for each 4 non-union workers (which are the only skilled
ones), you must hire a union worker, pay him, but he doesn't even have to
show up at work. NOTE THAT CHAVEZ HAS BEEN ATTACKED BY LABOR UNIONS because
he wants to eliminate the present ones, and organize new unions from
scratch.

A bit more about the land thing: I am working now with the organiztion that
hopes to set up agricultural cooperatives. In this way, we can organize the
people who receive small bits of land into doing something useful. I have
found 2 US volunteers who will come down, they have over 25 yrs experience
each. But, we still need US$1500 to bring each one, and that with my hope of
setting them up for those 4 weeks in someone's home, not a hotel. But, the
(local, not chavez's party) government won't invest that money, because it's
too long term to make them look good NOW. Any of you have experience with
agricultural coops? We grow mangoes, coffee, passion fruit, coconuts, etc
here, and also have some of the best powdered milk and cheese in the world.
WE need to stop importing all our grains, too. Have any of you had any
experiences with Cargill, the company?

Vanessa







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