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El Libertario
Venezuela : Demarcation without land, criminalization and death for indigenous struggle

* The editorial collective of El Libertario denounces the criminal attack
that took place on October 13, 2009 against the Yukpa people in the Sierra
of Perija in Western Venezuela, resulting in two indigenous persons dead
and several wounded. The following article ­about the tactic and strategy
of “Revolutionary Venezuelan” Ethnocide- describes the events.

By Jose Quintero Weir (Translation Luis J. Prat)

Struggle :
Old man Antonio used to say that the struggle is like a circle.
One can start anywhere
But it never ends.
Subcomandante Marcos

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 took place : Chavez’s ministerial team came to award so-called
title deeds to three indigenous Yukpa communities in the Sierra of Perija,
with the pretense to finish the process of land demarcation in the habitat
belonging to these people. It is noteworthy the absence of President
Chavez 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 People’s, among other functionaries present), and who, 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

It was known for weeks before that something was going to happen on the
Yukpa side of the Sierra of Perija. 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 synchronicity and by means of actions executed
alternatively, ministerial commissions headed by Diosdado Cabello
(Chavez’s plenipotentiary Minister) and Tarek el Aisami (Interior and
Justice) among others, got busy distributing bags of food, promising
infrastructure works : schools, institutes, roads, hospitals and other
projects for agricultural and monetary production 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 unmarked Yukpa
territory, which was loudly protested by the indigenous people who were
repressed by the very same Diosdado Cabello, commissioned by Chavez for
the task since the base is linked to plans that we will discuss later in
this article.

Meanwhile, in the same context, the Chaktapa community and its leader
Sabino Romero have become the pebble in the “transnational-Chavist” shoe
as this has been the community that didn’t want to wait for the
government’s demarcation that condescendingly recognizes the living spaces
of these peoples, but instead assumed their condition as historical
subjects and decided to reclaim their ancestral lands, occupying and
controlling as communal land some six haciendas. For Chavez’s
State-government and for the mining transnationals and land owners this
act has turned Sabino and his Chaktapa community into the enemy to defeat
and, for his daring, has been condemned to death, not as an indigenous
warrior who’s 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 Chavez’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 : an accusation of cattle
theft (120 heads) by an ad hoc rancher in which Sabino Romero, the true
leader in the struggle for Yukpa territory in the Sierra of Perija, is
directly accused.

Today, October 13 2009, 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 habitat in the Sierra of Perija.

Therefore, we responsibly denounce that President Hugo Chavez knew what
was going to happen. That is why he didn’t attend the shameful act of
October 12. We denounce this as we already start to see the news in the
state owned channel trying to confuse the facts. Likewise, as confirmation
we read or 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, publicly executed by its two principal
ministers Diosdado Cabello and Tarek el Aisami. Therefore we denounce that
everything that happened and may happen is just the tactical execution,
within a political strategy of ethnocide and ethno-devouring, of a policy
by a government that continues to hang onto the language and the lives of
the poor to maintain what is truly essential : its power.

Within this strategy of permanence in power, Chavez has opted for the
continuation of development projects combined with the exploitation of
non-traditional minerals such as uranium ; known to exist in the Yukpa
region of the Perija. 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 Chavez-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

We’ve had enough with honest comrades in solidarity with the indigenous
struggle that continue to justify Chavez and place the guilt for the
insane policies against people on his bureaucracy. The guilty ones are the
guilty ones, and in this case they are Chavez, Diosdado Cabello and Tarek
el Aisami. 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 way and the way of all
indigenous communities in the country.

[More info, in Spanish & English, in www.nodo50.org/ellibertario