It has long been known that the Southern shores of Lake Maracaibo contain some of Venezuela’s richest, most productive lands.
But this is also a land seeped in violence, where work, love, and commitment to farming and cattle grazing run deep, so deep that the people involved don’t waiver when they need to put their life on the line to defend what’s theirs.
Which only makes Hugo Chávez’s decision to take over this vast region all the more boneheaded.
The relatives of one of my childhood friends had deep ties in Santa Barbara. Her great-uncle, a wealthy cattle rancher in the region, owned a farm that had its own airstrip. On the pavement of the airstrip, he had painted: “Only love is better than milk.”
Love and milk are the region’s lifelines, but so are bullets.