Pays de Gex, France, November 1, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Two campesino leaders and members of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) were assassinated on Wednesday in Nueva Bolivia, Merida State.
A press release from PCV Secretary-General Oscar Figuera revealed that central committee member Luis Fajardo had been assassinated along with his brother-in-law, Javier Aldana. According to reports, the two men were making their way home on a motorbike, when they were killed by a burst of gunfire from a moving car.
Figuera added that the party held landowners, as well as corrupt personnel of the National Guardsmen and politicians, responsible for the crime, while demanding that the state carry out a thorough investigation of the case.
Multiple organizations in Venezuela, including the Tupamaros and elements within the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), have condemned the episode and expressed their condolences.
The local branch of the PCV in Merida also put out a press statement on Thursday, recalling that Fajardo and Aldana’s activities in defence of campesino rights had made them a target for landowners and that Fajardo’s numerous public denunciations of the threats made against his life and his family had been ignored by authorities. The PCV called on President Maduro and Attorney General Tarek William Saab to ensure that justice is served in this case.
The incident comes just weeks after a similar assassination attempt targeting Barinas-based PCV campesino leader Robinson Garcia, who came under fire from several motorcyclists on October 9, but managed to escape with his life.
Nueva Bolivia is located in the so-called Sur del Lago region, south of Venezuela’s lake Maracaibo, which extends along the states of Merida and Zulia. Fajardo was spearheading the claims of some 250 campesino families to the Cano Rico ranch, which was being occupied and utilized by the campesinos whilst they awaited legal adjudication of the lands.
The lake region has seen some of the most intense land struggles by small farmers, to which large landholders have responded with deadly force, often taking the form of paramilitary violence. This past July’s Admirable Campesino March, which covered more than 400 km on foot to demand a meeting with President Maduro, presented several grievances from Sur del Lago. In one of the latest examples of violence against campesinos, teenager Kender Garcia was murdered on September 19.
For their part, the Venezuelan communists have also repeatedly drawn attention to the violence taking place in the countryside and what they deem a complicit lack of response from authorities.
Earlier this month, Figuera had called for an urgent meeting with President Maduro in the context of the electoral agreement between the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and the PCV, signed before the May 20 presidential elections.
The communist leader accused the government of not fulfilling any of the agreed-upon points, among them, addressing the campesino demands and putting an end to violent evictions and targeted killings in the Venezuelan countryside.
Edited by Lucas Koerner from Caracas and with additional reporting by Paul Dobson from Merida.