British Food Giant fences Indigenous People in Venezuela
Caracas, February 25, 2008, (YVKE Radio Mundial) –
President Hugo Chávez ordered quick and decisive action Sunday in order to liberate 200 Yaruro indigenous people who have been encircled by fences built by Agroflora, an affiliate of the British Vestey Group, according to denunciations filed by Representative Cristóbal Jiménez and ratified by the Minister of Agriculture and Land, Elias Jaua. Also, 800 other indigenous people remained outside of the fences. “The farm put up a fence around them and they can’t get out without permission from the farm owners,” Jiménez explained.
“When the English company bought the Morichito farm from Vicente Pérez Soto, in the document the indigenous people were included,” Jiménez pointed out. Pérez Soto was a governor in the era of Juan Vicente Gómez, at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Jaua met with the president of Agroflora and informed her that nearly 10,000 acres will be confiscated by the state so that the indigenous peoples can move about freely.
President Orders Immediate Liberation of Indigenous Peoples
“This is a flagrant violation of indigenous rights,” the president said. He ordered that this Monday the National Guard, accompanied by a judge and a public prosecutor, shall demolish the fences, allowing the indigenous people to recuperate their right to move freely. “If they want to demand something from the State, then they shall demand it, but we cannot permit them to fence in an indigenous community,” Chávez proclaimed.
Representative Jiménez also deplored that Agroflora posseses hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the state of Apure, specifically the Caña Pístola farm, which occupies over 185,000 acres, the Turagua farm, which occupies over 74,000 acres, the Punta de Mata farm, and the 260,000 acre Los Cocos farm. The director of the National Land Institute (INTI), Juan Carlos Loyo, confirmed that the majority of these lands are not being used for production because Agroflora claims they constitute a natural reserve. In response, Chávez asserted that if that is true, then natural reserves should pertain to the State and not to a private consortium.
Rockefeller in Apure: In the End, It’s All About the Oil
President Chávez told the story of how foreign companies acquired huge tracts of land at the beginning of the twentieth century with the intention of controlling the oil below the surface. They did this in the states of Zulia, Barinas, Apure, and in eastern regions of the country. “They got rid of the indigenous peoples and the farmers, and later on the big machinery arrived to take away the oil,” Chávez recounted.
Jiménez further argued that Nelson Rockefeller was a stockholder in the Invega Corporation, which owned the El Frío farm in the state of Apure, where Rockefeller visited several times while he was the governor of New York between 1959 and 1973.
Rockefeller, who was born in 1908 and died in 1979, was also vice president of the United States between 1974 and 1977 under the presidency of Gerald Ford. He was the paternal grandson of John Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil Company who was considered the richest man in the world during his time. Standard Oil was later converted into Exxon Mobil, which today is the most profitable oil corporation in the world. Exxon Mobil is currently taking judicial action to freeze foreign assets of PDVSA, which nationalized the Orinoco River Belt where Exxon Mobil owned property.
More Large Estates
Jiménez also recommended reforming the federal Land Law. He argued that currently, the Land Law defines an estate as a holding of idle, uncultivated land, but the definition should be changed to mean any large piece of land owned by a small number of people that is not serving the social good.
The representative also mentioned other estates of various owners, like the 260,000 acre Los Cocos farm, the 99,000 acre Mata de Palo farm in the municipality of Achaguas, the 67,000 acre Los Viejitos farm, the 100,000 acre Las Delicias farm, and El Porvenir, which occupies over 100,000 acres. The owners of all of these estates have only been able to demonstrate original property ownership of less than 10,000 acres. Chávez asked for an immediate investigation of these lands.
Translated by: James Suggett