Venezuelan Campesinos' March on Miraflores Blocked by Police

The mobilization marked the one-year anniversary of the Admirable Campesino March.

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Campesino spokesman Jesus Osorio addresses the march. (Ketsy Medina Sifontes)
Campesino spokesman Jesus Osorio addresses the march. (Ketsy Medina Sifontes)
By Ricardo Vaz
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Caracas, August 8, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Campesino and popular movements took to the streets of Venezuela’s capital Tuesday to demand government answers to issues plaguing the countryside.

The march, which was organized by the Campesino Struggle Platform (PLC), had three intended stops: the Attorney General’s office, the National Constituent Assembly, and Miraflores Presidential Palace. The goal was to once more highlight problems such as targeted killings and lack of state support for local production.

The first stop saw PLC spokespeople hand over a document to a representative of the Public Prosecution, demanding justice for 19 campesinos killed in the past year and over 300 since the landmark Land Law was approved in 2001.

Simultaneously, clashes broke out between police and activists after security forces attempted to stop a young man from spray-painting, “No more targeted killings,” on a wall across the street.

By the time tempers calmed down, a riot police picket line had been formed to stop the march from progressing any further. However, campesino and urban militants broke through the cordon and the march continued along University Avenue in the direction of the city center, shouting slogans such as “with repression there is no revolution!”

Around one kilometer ahead, the march was met by another cordon, this time featuring both the Bolivarian Police and the National Guard, in front of the Legislative Palace in downtown Caracas.

Despite pleas and demands that the march be allowed to continue in the direction of Miraflores Palace, the picket line was only reinforced by the arrival of more National Guard personnel.

A deputy from the National Constituent Assembly and a representative from the Vice Presidency did come to meet the marchers, receiving documents highlighting the main issues and demands from the PLC, and pledging to respond.

Campesino spokespeople read the documents out loud, stressing how, out of the 111 cases of land disputes represented by the platform, only 28 have seen any kind of response from authorities. Similarly, despite government pledges to support small and midsize producers, out of the 35,000 hectare sowing plan proposed, the state has only provided seeds for 5,000 and fertilizer for 1,750 hectares.

The march was set to mark the one-year anniversary of the Admirable Campesino March, which saw dozens of campesinos march over 400 km on foot to raise awareness about the issues they face and demand a meeting with President Maduro.

A televised meeting did take place, with Maduro ordering the creation of commissions to resolve land disputes and put an end to impunity for rural violence. However, little to no progress has been made on the different fronts, with recurring episodes of evictions and targeted killings leading campesinos to return to Caracas and set up a vigil at the Land Institute (INTI) to demand that Maduro’s instructions be enforced.

The most recent case of landowner violence in the Venezuelan countryside resulted in the assassination of six militants from the grassroots Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current in Barinas State on July 27.

Edited by Lucas Koerner from Philadelphia.