Caracas, November, 22, 2006 (Venezuelanalysis.com)— Thousands of Venezuelan campesinos, indigenous, roof-less (sin techo), union members, media activists, and members of land, water, health and community committees marched in Caracas on Monday. The political party, UPV (Union Popular Venezolana), led by Chavez militant, Lina Ron, also joined the demonstrations, where the various groups marched in support of Venezuelan President Chavez, for the consolidation of the revolution, and for the continued autonomous mobilization of their various movements.
Although the three marches coincided on the same day, had similar goals, and appeared to be held in conjunction with one another, they began from various points across the Venezuelan capital and converged on two separate stages a block from each other- One in front of the Vice-President’s office and the other on Llaguno Bridge, near the Presidential Palace of Miraflores. Although there were many rumors, the circumstances that led to the lack of unity between the two groups are unknown.
The lively campesino march, which was joined by small contingencies of the roof-less movement and the UPV, began in the Southern Caracas community of El Valle, where thousands of campesinos arrived from half of Venezuela’s states, carrying large paper machetes and draped in the red and yellow banners of the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), which convoked the march.
“So far it’s been magnificent,” said Jesseny Garcia, an FNCEZ organizer from Barinas, during the cultural program which preceded the march. “We are seeing the true numbers of fighters that are with the Front (FNCEZ)… and we are being able to meet each other to struggle together to achieve benefits for everyone.”
Barinas resident and FNCEZ spokesperson, Ramon Elogio Biriguey, stated that their march has two objectives: One, to give support to President Chavez in the upcoming elections; and two, to push for a “Zamoran Agenda” against imperialism and in support of the construction of socialism, democratic participation, Venezuela’s natural resources, food security and to further increase the “revolutionary agrarian reform.”
“We are marching today, because we are convinced that we need to deepen the process and become stronger,” said Biriguey. “We are going to consolidate, through building consciousness, ideology, and through recuperating all of our lands to resolve all of the problem of food security.”
Eber Montilla is a member of the FNCEZ National leadership council from the Sur de Lago (South of Lake Maracaibo) region of Venezuela and participates in the new Campesino Territorial Guards, which in the past few months have been partially trained by the Venezuelan Armed Forces to protect their fellow campesinos, their land, and their struggle. Since the passage of the 2001 land law, over 150 Venezuelan campesino leaders have been assassinated at the hands of hired gunmen working on behalf of large Venezuelan landowners.
“These companions train within the Armed Forces themselves, so that they themselves are the Guardians,” said Montilla. “So that at some point when the oligarchy tries to go against the campesino sector, well we will have people prepared to defend that conquest… The people themselves need to defend their revolution.”
While holding up one end of a large FNCEZ banner during Monday’s march, Montilla stated that between 200 and 300 campesinos have now joined the Campesino Territorial Guard, but their goal is to increase their numbers to 1000 throughout the nation by the end of the year.
“We are demonstrating that we are also in this revolutionary process being led by Chavez, and that the campesino sector is also organized,” he added.
Media & Indigenous March
While the campesino march was leaving El Valle, members of the community media association (ANMCLA), along with thousands of Venezuelan indigenous, union, and communal council members were marching from Plaza Venezuela and Catia to their stage on Llaguno Bridge.
The theme of this second group was “for all of our struggles.” In one flyer, they announced that they would “continue to mobilize defending the self-determination of our people” against “bureaucracy, corruption… FTAA, IIRSA, Plan Puebla Panama, Plan Colombia”; “against the coal exploitation in the Perija Mountains, struggling for the indigenous Wayuu, Yukpa, Bari land without mines and cattle”; “for a public communications system in the hands of the grassroots community and workers”; “supporting the agricultural food sovereignty and security of the people”; “struggling for a free, sovereign, socialist Venezuela without bosses”; “for the small mining communities”; “for our barrios… our Urban Land Committees”; “for a democratic and free education”; and “struggling for the rights of the artisan fishermen.”
Monday’s marches numbered only in the tens of thousands, which pales in comparison to large Chavez rallies, which can soar to several hundred thousand. However, although the various groups marched in support of President Chavez, their mobilizations were marked by an uncommon sovereignty and autonomy from the national government, which they say makes their various struggles unique. Participants and organizers alike where also impressed by the turnout on a workday.