Indigenous and labor rights in Venezuela: do our readers care?
Our November issue featured the stories "Venezuelan Labor Between Chávez and the Golpistas" by Venezuelan journalist Rafael Uzcategui writing for the Spanish anarchist journal Tierra y Libertad, and "Venezuela: Demarcation Without Land" by José Quintero Weir writing for the Caracas anarchist journal El Libertario. The stories documented, respectively, repression against unionists and indigenous peoples under the Hugo Chávez regime. Our Exit Poll was: "Are we traitors to the Revolution for airing an anarchist critique of Bolivarian Venezuela?"
We received no responses. Which again raises the question of whether anybody actually reads World War 4 Report, and whether we should continue publishing.
We do note that our comrades at Upside Down World on Oct. 15 ran the following VenezuelAnalysis report on the violence against indigenous leaders in Venezuela's conflicted Sierra de Perijá:
Venezuelan Yukpa Indigenous Community Attacked, Two Murdered Following Land Grants
On Tuesday [Oct. 13], the day after the national government granted more than 40,000 hectares of land to Yukpa indigenous communities in northwestern Venezuela, assassins attacked the community of Yukpa chief and indigenous rights activist Sabino Romero, killing two and injuring at least four.
Romero's son in law, Ever Garcia, and a young, pregnant Yukpa woman were shot dead in the attack. Romero received three bullet wounds and is currently in the hospital in stable condition, according to reports from the community. Romero's daughter, grand daughter, and nephew were also hospitalized with bullet wounds, and are now in the hospital in stable condition.
Romero was one of several Yukpa chiefs who led land occupations last year to demand that the government pay indemnity to the private estate owners and transfer the land to the Yukpa in the form of collective property, in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution and indigenous rights laws passed by the government of President Hugo Chavez.
Since the land occupations began in July 2008, the Yukpa communities involved have been subject to repeated death threats and attacks by thugs believed to have been hired by large estate owners and their local government allies.
In August 2008, estate owner Alejandro Vargas participated in an attack on Romero's community, during which Romero's father, a community elder of more than one hundred years of age, was beaten and killed.
Vargas, a cattle rancher, in an attempt to justify his deadly raid on the Yukpa, accused Romero of stealing several head of cattle. He also claimed on one occasion to have paid bribes to local legal authorities for protection against prosecution, according to the victims of the attacks.
The Yukpa reported the attacks to local police, who said investigations were opened, but no suspects have been arrested.
The National Guard maintains a heavy presence and the government plans to build a new military base in the sparsely populated and conflict-ridden border zone, which is rich in coal deposits and affected by the spillover of refugees, guerrilla insurgents, and paramilitaries from the civil war in Colombia.
Romero and other Yukpa chiefs allied with him are openly opposed to the land grants issued by the government on Monday. They say the government did not effectively consult with the Yukpa communities about the proper demarcation of Yukpa land, and instead carved up Yukpa territory to protect large estate owners, preserve access to coal deposits, and preserve space for a military base in the region. Meanwhile, several other Yukpa chiefs have allied themselves with Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nicia Maldonado and supported the government's plan for indigenous land demarcation.
See our last Exit Poll results.