Video by Aporrea, featuring an interview with a spokesman for the state of Barinas, Venezuela, on a shocking recent discovery made by peasants in the area who had recently been assigned plots of redistributed land on what used to be a latifundio (large, mostly unused estate owned by illegal land-grabbers). Here’s the story:
Rómulo Undas, spokesman for the Communications Department of the state of Barinas, informed of the finding of common graves in the municipality of Rojas, near Santa Rosa, on the Mata Redonda ranch (now known as San Pancracio), in the state of Barinas, in an interview with Aporrea’s Roberto Sanabria.
A peasant, who was excavating in order to build a well in ground assigned by INTI, made the macabre discovery.
At the moment 31 cadavers have been found, according to the information given by Undas.
Horrifying details have been shared by old peasants in the area over this case, which for unknown reasons has not had much coverage in the national media, private as well as public.
Barinas happens to be the home state of the late president, Hugo Chávez. It is largely rural, mostly plains. Most of the people are literally dirt-poor there; the original meaning of the phrase was “poor in soil”, that is, landless. Arable lands were largely the domain of the big, greedy land-owner. Most of them, however, remained unused. People fled to the big cities seeking jobs, and the slums around them swelled. Villages were small and squalid as a result, and Venezuela wound up importing 80% of the foods it consumed because so little was being grown there. Chavecito himself was born in the village of Sabaneta, in a hut with mud walls and an earthen floor, and grew up in one, too. His revolution, among other things, aimed to get unused lands back into the hands of the peasant farmers who once worked them, so that Venezuela could stop being dependent on imported foods. Hence INTI, the institute for land reclamation and redistribution. And hence the finding by a peasant digging a well for his little farm.
According to the spokesman for Radio Barinas, Rómulo Undas, the corpses found in the grave date back to the Fourth Republic. That is, Before Chávez. The government of those days was nominally a democracy, but it was a democracy in name only. It was a dictatorship in practice, with nothing changing but the faces of the “elected” caudillos. As far as kidnappings, tortures, murders and secret mass graves go, the “democratic” Fourth Republic of the Punto Fijo era was no better than the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez which immediately preceded it. Just because there were suddenly two official parties swapping the throne between them, doesn’t mean there was any improvement in the human-rights situation of the land. Far from it; thanks to the ample assistance of the CIA (and its “benevolent” developmental arm, USAID), the ruling class was able to shed its military uniform, but only to trade it for that of the feared and reviled political police, the DISIP. It was the DISIP who co-ordinated operations, sending the army out to crush what they claimed were Marxist guerrillas, but what more often turned out to be nothing more than peasants, struggling to survive on tiny parcels of land that they had tried to chip off some large estate. Chavecito himself found it out as a young army officer, recently graduated from university, when he was sent to a region near the Colombian border to fight guerrillas, and found absolutely none — well, none that had been active recently, anyhow. The only evidence of Marxist guerrillas in the area was the abandoned hulk of an old Mercedes whose trunk was full of musty old socialist literature, which Chavecito collected and cleaned up and began reading on his own time. The owners of the car had been killed in a shootout long ago. What he did find, was that other army officers routinely beat up and even killed innocent peasants. A similar situation prevailed in other rural areas, too, for four decades; and since the peasants were poor and powerless, it was easy to conceal the evidence of military and DISIP oppression in some out-of-the-way spot, like a forest. Or a disused part of some huge old estate.
Most likely, it is those same peasants whose bodies were found in those mass graves…hidden, probably, for political expediency. After all, you can’t have a sham democracy without a hell of a lot of pretending that you’re a vast improvement over what came before, even if you are just as bad or worse. But now that Venezuela finally has a real democracy, expect a lot more of these once hidden peasant massacres to come to light, and to finally receive the attention that they are due.