Photo: retrieved

The scene is poetic in itself.

In one of those local radio stations that chavismo labels “far-right,” a self-proclaimed “revolutionary” and chavista Yukpa chieftain from Machiques de Perijá denounced that, without proper roads in the state, 5,000 avocados have been lost in 2018.

But this isn’t just any Yukpa chieftain. It’s Sabino Romero, son of the eponymous indigenous leader murdered in 2013 in a drive-by shooting. In 2009, Hugo Chávez’s government granted Sabino Sr. the ownership of some lands, unleashing a conflict between livestock farmers and natives.

“Currently, there are 30 indigenous communities that grow cassava, malanga, coffee and small green bananas in Machiques de Perijá, Zulia. It goes to waste in the fertile land due to the lack of asphalt and roads to communicate farms with the main city,” says Romero, with a tricolor belt on his shoulder. “People have been forced to move the little they’ve managed to harvest on horse or mule. The most they’re able to transport daily is two sacks of small green plantain.”

People have been forced to move the little they’ve managed to harvest on horse or mule.

As he also confessed, neither him nor his peers have any idea of how to use the 845 hectares of land that Chávez gave them, originally belonging to criollos, the name natives have for those outside indigenous groups.

“We need technical assistance from agronomists, because there are lands used for growing coffee or cassava, and we don’t know how to differentiate them to give each a proper use. We also have pastures left by livestock farmers to feed animals and we can’t raze them,” he says.

This is the very real consequence of what started when Hugo Chávez expropriated companies and lands, under the demented Robin Hood-style pretense of stealing from the wealthy to give to the poor; it was all to fuel a narrative of alleged inclusion and equality, which has turned Venezuela into a completely unproductive, miserable nation.

That’s why it was both laughable and depressing to see the government take over Kimberly Clark and Kellogg’s, to later give them “to the people.”

This a consequence of what started when Hugo Chávez expropriated companies and lands, under the demented Robin Hood-style pretense of stealing from the wealthy to give to the poor.

The first expropriation took place in 2016, and Nicolás Maduro promised to boost production to 100 million diapers per month, which have been conspicuously absent from supermarkets. As for the second, the evidence of what went down is in a despicable video where Aragua governor, Rodolfo Marco Torres, celebrated the production of the first box of cereal after the intervention.

But the government hasn’t only tried to establish a narrative of how good they’re with the poor; they’ve also tried to exert loyalty, revealed when 17,000 PDVSA employees (47% of the payroll) were laid off in 2003 after the oil strike. Many of them, by the way, ended up boosting the industry in Argentina.

Today, practically all State-owned companies are run by ignorant soldiers close to Nicolás Maduro. That’s why PDVSA and Corpoelec, two of the most important companies in the country, are run by generals Manuel Quevedo and Luis Motta Domínguez. Because that’s how it must be: people who only know about guns are trying to boost oil production and solve the electrical crisis.

Today, practically all State-owned companies are run by ignorant soldiers close to Nicolás Maduro.

It’s common to hear opposition leaders and many citizens in the country say that the country needs people with training in various areas (economists running the economy, teachers helming education, oil engineers leading PDVSA, electrical engineers heading Corpoelec). No more corrupt soldiers in strategic posts destroying the little that remains to hold on to power and get even richer.

But the State cares very little about this demand. They control all public power and decide what to do, nobody can stop them. They go harder and faster on each of their absurd decisions, not looking back.

And why should they care, if they don’t suffer the consequences?

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Irony of Ironies–Venezuela needs soldiers to rise up and throw off the yoke of Venezuela’s misery, which yoke is largely being run/managed by soldiers. Bolton recently said it best–Venezuela is being managed at the top by Cubans, and LA Region friends and the U.S. must start sanctioning/non-coddling Cuba. Also, the Yupkas must realize they need CAPITAL to make lands productive, which capital is unavailable in a failed Communist (Socialist) state.

  2. I read one of the neatest encapsulations of Chavez’s destructive stupidity in the “Devil’s Excrement” blog. It described a former coffee plantation which the owner had converted into an outdoor museum open to visitors from the city on weekends and holidays. Chavez had put Venezuelan coffee growers out of business with a price limit on coffee, and cheered as the wicked private owners went out of business. Instead, he used oil money to bring in coffee from his buddy Ortega’s Nicaragua. That was Chavismo in a nutshell: destroy Venezuelan business, plug the hole with oil money, and eventually discover that the oil money won’t plug all the losses in the private economy..

  3. As a Caracas city boy, I have a hard time understanding the realities of the Venezuelan interior; main sin of the capitalinos is navelgazing.

    So I dont know if there was really some deep reason for land reform. I dont know how the situation of small farmers and indigenous groups was, so maybe there was a need for some kind of redistribution of land (although considering that the State has always been the main landowner, it could have started there). Not saying the Chavista way was the proper one – the absolute opposite, in fact. But again, dont know, maybe this was a big problem for decades in the rural areas and we ignored it as we ignored everything outside Caracas.

    But apart from the obvious – that Chávez land reforms were basically break the back of anybody that opposes me and gift stuff to the masses for votes – this shows again the way they go about everything. Long speeches of reheated, stale socialist propaganda is all the “intellectual” work they do on stuff; planning , no so much. Because this was a no brainer – if you are going to give land to people to cultivate AND you want a modern farming sector that produces food for the country to eat and export, then obviously you need to give them access to capital, tools, knowledge, expertise, everything.

    But who needs that when you can destroy some “oligarch” working farm, distribute the corpse to some of the locals for their votes, and leave them farming a miserable conuco (very small farm in Venezuelan lingo) while you use oil money to cover the collapse of production. What can go wrong with that…

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