Venezuela: Indications of a deepening revolutionary process

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Fri Sep 7 20:41:44 MDT 2001

The following article from the AP/Dow Jones news service is of extreme
interest, not just in judging what is going on in Venezuela, but also
because it shows how  little real information is getting through the censors
to the mainstream media in the United States.

In this case, this article was distributed only in Spanish, even though AP
attributed authorship to Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal.

As for the details of the proposed law, I think it would be foolish to
discuss too much its exact scope and provisions on the basis of this one
dispatch. Missing, for example, is any provision that would make
smallholdings inalienable, although all experience shows this is a most
necessary measure. On the other hand, insofar as the immediate intervention
and later expropriation of plutocratic land-hoarders is being actively
considered and promoted by President Chávez, that is undoubtedly entirely

This new indication of a growing class edge to the Bolivarian Revolution
comes on the heels of several others:

* Venezuela withdrawing rent-free offices for a U.S. military mission in an
important military complex.
* Foreign Minister Rangel's announcement that the 50-year-old military pact
with the United States is a cold war relic that obviously no longer in
* A new law doubling the per-barrel royalties that must be paid to the state
for extracting petroleum (accompanied by a reduction in the nominal tax on
the profits of this sector, something which the bourgeois press complains is
symbolic because many oil companies had extracted tax concessions from the
government and because proftis are fairly easy to hide through creative
* A growing commitment by President Chávez to an open, no-holds-barred fight
against the Free Trade Area of the Americas, building on his opposition to
the key provisions of the document adopted in Quebec City even though at
that time those were expressed in the cautious language of diplomatic
"reservations" to the text.
* A strengthening of ties with Cuba and a proposal by Chávez to wage a
united fight against the FTAA.
* Warnings to the private banking sector in Venezuela that the government
will have no choice but to withdraw its deposits in their institutions if
they continue to facilitate the flight of  liquid capital from the country.

In sum, whereas in the first couple of years of Chávez's presidency, the
Venezuelan political scene was dominated by the fight over a complete
makeover of the constitution with the expressed aim of smashing the old
corrupt political regime; now broader questions of foreign and domestic
policy are coming to the fore and the KEY question in most national
democratic revolutions --who owns the land-- is beginning to emerge as a
leading question.

This points in the direction of a deepening of the Bolivarian revolutionary

Following is the AP/DJ article (in my translation) and then the original

*  *  *

Venezuelan Government Studying Land Expropriations

CARACAS (AP) - President Hugo Chávez said Tuesday [September 4] that the
draft law on property in land in Venezuela will include provisions for the
intervention and expropriation of lands belonging to landowners who have
large tacts lying idle.

Chávez also said he might decree a state of exception [i.e., suspending
constitutional guarantees] to combat some economic sectors and bankers who
"are playing with pressure tactics and speculation" against the Venezuelan

Chávez said the projected new law on the land would authorize the National
Agrarian Institute to "intervene immediately and directly" those lands
suitable for cultivation which are not being used because "idle land is

The Venezuelan Constitution authorizes interventions and later expropriation
for reasons of public use after there is a final judicial sentence and
timely, just compensation has been made, Chávez said during the inauguration
of a textile plant in eastern Caracas.

 The Venezuelan leader, who has said he does not recognize the legitimacy of
the property of a lot of large landowners, added that the draft law also
calls for taxes on lands that are being "underutilized."

 Chávez said "no one should be scared" because what the measure is seekling
is to bemnefit some two million campesinos who don't even have "a small plot
of land on which to plant."

 The 1998 agricultural census revealed that 17.9 million hectares, some 60%
or the land suitable for agriculture or cattle ranching, is in the hands of
0.002% of the population. The census also revealed that 9.5 million of the
11.5 million hectares distributed by the National Agrarian Institute since
1961 among poor peasants wound up in the hands of large landowners.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires 5-09-01

*  *  *

DJ Gobierno Venezolano Estudia Expropiar Tierras

CARACAS (AP)--El presidente Hugo Chávez afirmó el martes que en el proyecto
de ley sobre la propiedad de la tierra en Venezuela se incluyó la figura de
la intervención y expropiación de tierras a los hacendados que tengan
grandes extensiones de terreno sin cultivar.

Chávez además declaró que podría decretar un estado de excepción para
combatir a algunos de sectores económicos y banqueros que "están jugando a
la presión y la especulación" en contra de la moneda venezolana.

Chávez dijo que la proyectada nueva legislación sobre tierra facultará al
gubernamental Instituto Agrario Nacional a "intervenir de manera directa e
inmediata" aquellos terrenos actos para el cultivo que no estén en uso
"porque una tierra ociosa está en condición de ilegalidad".

La constitución venezolana contempla la legalidad de las intervenciones y la
posterior expropiación luego de una sentencia firme y el pago oportuno de
una justa indemnización por motivo de utilidad publica, dijo Chávez durante
la inauguración de una empresa textil en el este de Caracas.

El mandatario venezolano, que ha dicho que desconoce el derecho a la
propiedad de muchos hacendados, agregó que el proyecto de ley prevé también
la fijación de impuestos a las tierras que estén siendo "subutilizadas".
Chávez pidió que "nadie se asuste", argumentado que la medida lo que busca
es beneficiar a unos dos millones de campesinos que no tienen ni un
"pedacito de tierra para sembrar".

El censo agropecuario de 1998 reveló que 17,9 millones de hectáreas o un 60%
de las tierras aptas para la agricultura y la ganadería están en manos del
0,002% de la población. Ese padrón también reveló que 9,5 millones de los
11,5 millones de hectáreas que el Instituto Agrario Nacional distribuyó a
partir de 1961 entre campesinos pobres acabaron en manos de grandes

(END) Dow Jones Newswires 05-09-01

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