Criminalization and Death for Indigenous Struggle
by José Quintero Weir, El Libertario, Caracas
The editorial collective of the Caracas anarchist journal El Libertario denounces the criminal attack that took place on Oct. 13, 2009 against the Yukpa people in the Sierra de Perijá in western Venezuela, resulting in two indigenous persons dead and several wounded. The following article—about the tactics and strategy of “Revolutionary Venezuelan” ethnocide—describes the events.
Old man Antonio used to say that the struggle is like a circle.
One can start anywhere
But it never ends.
This past October 12, what we have been denouncing for a long time as the ethnocide and ethno-devouring strategy of the current state-government of Venezuela reached a culmination: Chávez’s ministerial team came to award so-called title deeds to three indigenous Yukpa communities in the Sierra of Perijá, with the pretense to finish the process of land demarcation in the habitat belonging to these people. The absence of President Chávez was noteworthy in an event long awaited in the Sierra since the year 2002, when, by constitutional mandate, the State was supposed to finalize the process of land demarcation in all the indigenous territories in the country. Instead, an enormous deployment of soldiers blanketed the event, supposedly for the security of the ministers (Interior and Justice, Indigenous Peoples, among other functionaries present). Yet these soldiers, at the slightest sign of protest by those communities not favored by the event, went immediately into action to repress their demands. It was, in the end, an event by which the Yukpa had to forcefully accept the receipt of nothing.
It was known for weeks before that something was going to happen on the Yukpa side of the Sierra of Perijá. The Regional Demarcation Commission announced the date for awarding the title deeds, but said that it was for three communities: Aroy, Sirapta and Tinacoa, places where the government had already made a deal with the land owners who were in fact spared from giving land to the Yukpa—who received nothing but mountain and rocks, not arable lands, which were legally left in the hands of the land owners.
During this period, in coordinated actions, ministerial commissions headed by Diosdado Cabello (Chávez’s plenipotentiary Minister) and Tarek El Aissami (Interior and Justice) among others, got busy distributing bags of food, promising infrastructure works: schools, roads, hospitals and agricultural projects for those who would accept the give-away of October 12, and threatening those who would oppose it. At the same time, a military base was built in undemarcated Yukpa territory, which was loudly protested by the indigenous people who were repressed by the very same Diosdado Cabello, commissioned by Chávez for the task—since the base is linked to plans that we will discuss later in this article.
Meanwhile, the Chaktapa community and its leader Sabino Romero have become the pebble in the “transnational-Chavista” shoe, as it is the community that didn’t want to wait for the government’s demarcation that condescendingly recognizes the living spaces of these peoples, but instead…decided to reclaim their ancestral territories, occupying and controlling as communal land some six haciendas. For Chávez’s state-government and for the mining transnationals and land owners, this act has turned Sabino and his Chaktapa community into an enemy to defeat. For his daring, has been condemned to death—not as an indigenous warrior who is not for sale, but as a vulgar cattle rustler, a delinquent ready to kidnap and kill, someone linked to foreign military forces and an enemy of the state-government.
Thus, the act of giving land to the Yukpas on October 12 sealed the process by which Chávez’s state-government swallowed up part of the Yukpa communities headed by Efrain Romero of Sirapta and the cacique Olegario Romero—giving them a free hand to act against their own Yukpa brothers of Chaktapa headed by Sabino Romero. The excuse: a charge of cattle theft (120 head) by an ad hoc rancher in which Sabino Romero, the true leader in the struggle for Yukpa territory in the Sierra of Perijá, is directly accused.
Today, October 13, as I write these lines, Sabino is being rescued from Chaktapa with three gunshot wounds inflicted by Olegario’s people who, with the support of ranchers and the “revolutionary” government, attacked him, killing one of his sons-in-law, wounding two of his sons and a grand-daughter, while another of his sons has disappeared. All of this is the result of a grand strategy by the “Bolivarian revolution” regarding the demarcation of lands and indigenous habitats in the Sierra of Perijá.
Therefore, we responsibly denounce that President Hugo Chávez knew what was going to happen. That is why he didn’t attend the shameful act of October 12. We make this denunciation as we already begin to see the news on the state-owned channel trying to confuse the facts. Likewise, we read and listen to confusing reports by traditional opposition journalists and land-owners from Fegalago justifying the actions against Sabino and the Chaktapa community, paradoxically joining the state-government in this policy… Therefore we denounce that everything that happened or may happen is just the tactical execution of a political strategy of ethnocide and ethno-devouring, the policy by a government that continues to cling to the language of the poor to maintain what is truly essential: its power.
Within this strategy of permanence in power, Chávez has opted for the continuation of development projects combined with the exploitation of non-traditional minerals such as uranium—which is known to exist in the Yukpa region of the Perijá. Therefore, the state-government builds a military base contested by the Yukpa but defended, in the president’s name, by Diosdado Cabello as part of a Chávez-Iran project to exploit the uranium. At the same time, it gives a free hand to other mining projects and assures for the land-owners the territorial despoliation of the indigenous people.
We’ve had enough with honest comrades in solidarity with the indigenous struggle who continue to justify Chávez and place the guilt for the foolish policies against people on his bureaucracy. The guilty ones are the guilty ones, and in this case they are Chávez, Diosdado Cabello and Tarek El Aissami. These three will someday have to account for whatever happens to Sabino Romero and his community that, against all odds, continues in the struggle because they have decided that is their path and the path of all indigenous communities in the country.
This article first appeared Oct. 13 in El Libertario. Our translation is adapted from one provided by El Libertario’s Luis J. Prat.
From our Daily Report:
Hugo Chávez: Iran aids Venezuela uranium exploration
World War 4 Report, Oct. 18, 2009
Survival International: Colombian guerillas threaten Yukpa indigenous people
World War 4 Report, Feb. 6, 2008
Venezuela to militarize Colombian border
World War 4 Report, Nov. 10, 2008
Venezuela: indigenous people salute Zapatistas
World War 4 Report, July 26, 2007
TERROR IN PERIJÁ
Resource Wars on Venezuela’s Indigenous Frontier
from El Mundo/Libertario, Caracas
World War 4 Report, March 2009
See related story, this issue:
VENEZUELAN LABOR BETWEEN CHAVEZ AND THE GOLPISTAS
The Bolivarian Government Against Union Autonomy
by Rafael Uzcategui, Tierra y Libertad
World War 4 Report, November 2009
Reprinted by World War 4 Report, November 1, 2009
Reprinting permissible with attribution