Last week the Venezuelan army in a feat of high military prowess and courage invaded the property called La Marqueseña (and 4 others not as not worthy though one belongs to the Vestey group, thus adding a second important loss to that group). The invasion revealed that inside there were a few workers busily producing abundant agricultural products and apparently not particularly upset by the way the (ex-) owners were treating them. It was soon obvious for the public opinion that the assault had nothing to do with the new agrarian law which allows the state to force unproductive lands to be surrendered to peasant that want to work them. As far as I can tell I have not seen throngs of people trying to get the lands of La Marqueseña, and certainly not to the extent of the crowds that were wanting a take on, say, the Charcote farm, the first Vestey loss.
Thus from the very beginning that La Marqueseña, bought by the Azpurua family in 1949 (as seen on TV by one of the present owners showing all the titles that she held from her father) seemed like a very suspicious move, only understandable if one is willing to believe that the Chavez administration has decided to exacerbate political tension in an electoral move for December 2005.
Today a very interesting notice has come to the forefront and it is better for me to just translate the ironic editorial of Tal Cual from Simon Boccanegra.
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Regarding the intervention in hato La Marqueseña something started buzzing in my head. Somewhere, it seemed to me, I had read something on that farm and Chavez. Eventually the light bulb lighted up in my head. I went back to the famous book of Agustín Blanco Muñoz, "Habla el Comandante", (The Comandante speaks) (1). There I found the thing. Says the president (page 49): "Because it turns out that the lands of La Marqueseña belonged, at the beginning of the century, to my great grandfather, Pedro Pérez Delgado (I must note, before I continue to quote, that it is the official name of the ineffable Maisanta), who being a Gomez general rebelled and died in jail. That farm belonged to the Pérez Delgado (2).
Alter the year 1914, when my great grandfather left us, for the guerrilla against Gomez, those lands fell into the hands of the government. […] Today I believe they belong to the Azpúrua. These went from hand to hand. But my grandfather, the son of Maisanta, died fighting for those lands.
When he died, quite old, he got tired of going with lawyers and papers to try to rescue those lands. Those documents must be with the family". Well, I would not want to believe that La Marqueseña would fall into the hands of these peasants without land that the brothers Chávez Frías are (3).
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To make the reader understand this better a few comments:
(1)This book is dated from around the time was released from jail. Some sort of comprehensive interview which is used by chavistas on occasion although the author/interviewer is now solidly in the anti Chavez camp. This blogger has never read that book nor is he planning to.
(2)According to the Polar Dictionary of Venezuelan history, 4 books that I read constantly, indeed Maisanta was the named character. Originary of the Lara lands he somehow ended managing some lands in the Sabaneta area after the civil wars that brought to power Cipriano Castro and Gomez. Hence why the Chavez clan is from Sabaneta de Barinas (the state). But that Maisanta who seemed to have worked for the politician who offered the most, rebelled against Gomez once too many and ended up in jail where he died. Some historians consider Maisanta to be simply a famous highway robber who settled in Barinas state and tried to get some legitimacy for his booty by playing politics. Something which was, by the way, very frequent in Venezuela until Gomez finally brought some order through the country through the longest and bloodiest dictatorship of our history, so far…
(3)Of course Boccanegra cannot stop himself from pointing out that since Barinas state fell into the hands of his father as a governor, and under real management of one of his brothers, the Chavez family has become the happy owner of a considerable amount of lands. One would only need to look at the electoral add of Chavez one year ago, aired for his birthday, shot from a "family" farm with horse paddocks that looked more like manicured English Polo fields than a working farm of the Llanos.
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So? One might say?
It is rather interesting to see so many coincidences, is it not? Can Chavez have become so brazen in trying to recover lands that fell into the hands of the Azpurua family at least 20 years after Gomez took them away from his ancestor? Is he becoming a highway robber like said ancestor?
No matter what, it looks like this new land seizure episode is tainted with all sorts of irregularities, not to say violations of the law approved by chavismo itself.
Interestingly also, this week Chavez is hoping to visit New York and be celebrated by the intelligentsia of the Liberal/Left of New York who put their dislike of Bush against any ethical scrutiny of those who confront Bush. I recommend folks to read the excellent piece by Alexandra Beech on that subject.
My own piece of advice to the New York establishment from a Liberal blogger who opposes Chavez (and who lived in the New York area for 5 years): if you follow Chavez without questioning him, you risk to step on a lot of cow turds along the way.