Mérida, June 28, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Campesino Struggle Platform has voiced support for a series of measures announced by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to back small and midsize countryside producers.
“Venezuelan campesinos felt encouraged by the announcements,” Andrés Alayo, one of the Platform’s spokespeople, told Venezuelanalysis. He stated that small-scale producers had “resisted heroically” in recent years, keeping up the supply of food in spite of the US blockade, a deteriorated infrastructure, fuel shortages and other obstacles.
On Thursday, June 22, Maduro held a televised broadcast alongside Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Agriculture Minister Wilmer Castro Soteldo to unveil a series of policies focusing on the Venezuelan countryside.
“I’m announcing a new special fund to finance small producers throughout the country,” he said. “This is key, among many other things that we need to do.”
The Venezuelan president did not disclose the credit amounts and other details. He added that an immediate priority is to ensure that 100 percent of campesinos have access to banking services.
Alayo expressed that his organization “applauded the decision to democratize access to credit and to banking services.” He likewise praised Maduro’s pledge that the state will purchase larger crop volumes directly from producers.
“One of our key objectives is to be rid of intermediaries,” the campesino spokesman explained. “These measures can help us move from a stage of resistance to one of planning and revamping small and midsize production in the countryside.”
Venezuela’s agricultural sector was recently in the spotlight as a result of videos broadcast on social media that showed producers dumping crops as fuel shortages stopped them from taking produce to markets.
Judicial authorities reacted by arresting three people for supposed violations of fair price regulations. They were released shortly afterward.
In his recent broadcast, Maduro did not specifically mention the incidents, but did call on authorities to address “logistical problems” that affect countryside producers. He went on to instruct his cabinet to draw up a “special plan” to handle road infrastructure issues.
“We need to know in detail where there are needs in order to direct resources, send asphalt, send equipment and really tackle the agricultural transportation problems,” Maduro affirmed. The government has stated its goal of diversifying production, and especially exports, in order to reduce the Caribbean nation’s dependence on the oil sector.
Venezuelan campesino organizations have staged a number of protests in recent months to demand changes in state policies that favor large-scale producers and agribusiness corporations. Amidst an economic crisis heavily compounded by US sanctions, the Maduro administration adopted a number of liberal policies that included the phasing out of fuel subsidies and the privatization of public companies that supported small-scale food producers.
Alayo explained that the latest government policy announcements came in the wake of meetings between ruling party officials and campesino organizations.
On June 5, United Socialist Party (PSUV) National Assembly Deputy Jesús Farías held a meeting with grassroots movements which was followed by assemblies in some of the most agriculturally productive territories where campesinos expressed their criticisms and proposals.
“We value this self-critical exercise to listen to the campesino movement, which had been neglected for a long time,” Alayo told Venezuelanalysis. “These assemblies produced concrete demands that reached the president.”
The campesino leader went on to say that grassroots collectives should continue to organize and strengthen their work.
“We hope these latest measures will boost small and midsize production, so we can consolidate food security and eventually move on to food sovereignty,” he concluded.