Tuesday, July 12, 2005

They’re just such nice peaceful people – NOT 

The Venezuelan opposition to president Chavez always likes to put itself in the role of innocent victim. By doing so they hope to gain sympathy. Part of this ploy is to paint Chavez and his supporters as violent and themselves as victims of Chavista violence.

To this end they play up any violence which they think they can pin on the government. For example, they like to mention the people tragically killed on April 11th 2002 at the beginning of the coup they carried out. They invoke these deaths as justification for their subsequent actions. Of course they fail to mention that they led a march where they had no permit to lead it, that many (most?) of those killed on April 11th were Chavez supporters, and that more people were killed during the 48 hours they were in charge than on April 11th. Similarly, they mention the woman who was shot to death by what appear to be Chavez supporters shortly after last August’s referendum. Yet they fail to mention the two young Chavistas shot in the head and killed by anti-Chavez people simply for being out in Antimano celebrating Chavez’s victory in that same referendum.

Of course, what the opposition is attempting to do is create the myth that they are innocents and certainly not people capable of violence. Unfortunately for their propaganda this was given lie to yesterday by some people who came to Caracas to demonstrate against opposition violence. The demonstrators were rural farm workers who came from all over Venezuela to protest against the 130 farmers and farm activists who have been killed in Venezuela by landowners over the past several years. This rural reign of terror by the wealthy elite comes in response to the broad reaching land reform efforts of the Chavez government whereby underutilized land on large estates is taken and redistributed to landless farmers. These farmers are then given technical assistance and credits by the government to help their new farms be successful.

Of course, the rich landowners see this as a threat to their wealth and power and are prepared to fight to keep their privileged positions. And just like the rest of the opposition they are more than willing to use violence to achieve their aims. Just as Colombian and Central American death squads have used terror to keep people in line we are seeing the first tentative steps in this direction by the Venezuelan opposition. Who knows, maybe they are getting ideas and support from their allies across the border in Colombia, the right wing paramilitaries.

Needless to say, this situation is already bad and needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes even worse. To that end 6,000 farm workers made the long journey to Caracas to demand more protection from the central government. They need to get it. As Alexis Angulo from Carabobo said “we are tired of them continuing to kill us and our leaders”.

Marchers in Caracas yesterday protesting against opposition violence. The sign shows one of the murdered farm workers from the border state of Zulia with the caption “son and father”.


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