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After its publication in the Official Gazette yesterday, a Decree with the status of national law for the regulation of land possession will be in force in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Last Monday, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías ratified the eight-article decree that will initiate a process of reorganization of public and private productive lands, after pointing out that 80% of the agricultural land is in the hands of 5% of the producers, while the remaining 6% is left for 75% of the farmers. “A democracy that allows this, becomes a mere pantomime”, he said.

The president, and twenty three governors who support Chávez’ government, signed the decree named “War on latifundium” (possession of large landed states, typically owned by absentee landlords), in the presence of some members of the cabinet. Chávez publicly invited the two absent opposition governors, Manuel Rosales and Morel Rodríguez, of Zulia and Nueva Esparta states, respectively; to support the decree.

During the new launching of Misión Zamora (a program of redistribution of land and technical and financial support for the small farmers), he expressed that this is the first stage of inspection and supervision of property documents, with the purpose of doing justice to the Venezuelan peasants.

“That is why now, in the beginning of the 21st century, a true revolution has started in Venezuela, and is here to stay. A true, now revolutionary, democracy. We have to confront this problem (latifundium), dominate it, and defeat it. The war on latifundium is essential in the Bolivarian struggle”, said Chávez.

The head of state said to ministers and governors that “in the imaginary case that we do not defeat latifundium, we would be condemned, listen well, to say as Bolívar: ’we have plowed in the sea’. The struggle against, and the victory over latifundium is like oxygen for this revolution; its an essential part of the life of this people”.

The president reminded the audience that January 10th is a tragic day in that it is the 145th anniversary of the death of Ezequiel Zamora (who led the federation war in favor of the peasants under the cry of “free lands and free men”), and that is the reason why this date was taken to do justice with the distribution of the land. “He was the one who raised again the flags of Bolívar, from the mud, where they had been flung by the oligarchs”.

“A century and a half later, we are here, and we have retaken the call of Bolívar, of Field Marshal Sucre, of Ezequiel Zamora. Today, we can not pay a better homage to Zamora than to wage an all-out war for the cause he fought for. After August 15th and October 31st (dates of the sweeping victories in the recall referendum against Chávez, and in the elections for governors and mayors, respectively), when the revolutionary people expressed itself, we, who are only representatives of the people, have no other road to follow but to see that the Constitution is upheld, even at the expense of our lives”, said the president

Struggle against latifundium

“The war on latifundium has been launched to prevail within a real revolution and democracy, in which we must face this problem, dominate it, and defeat it. The war on latifundium essential in the bolivarian struggle”. “The last census revealed that fewer than 5% of the landowners or land occupants in Venezuela possess almost 80% of Venezuelan lands, its an aberrant situation”, affirmed the president.

“We have already begun the leap forward. The years 2005 and 2006 shall be to make the gigantic leap forward, because it will be a big leap, and it is just beginning, but at the end of 2006 we will be in optimal conditions to continue the march for six more years, because in December, we will win the presidential elections with 10 million votes”, stressed president Chávez.

The idea is to give the people sovereignty of agricultural food production, and to make a reality of general Zamora’s call: Free lands and free men represent the peasants’ integral development.

The peasants

Braulio Álvarez, president of the “Ezequiel Zamora” Agrarian Coordination, pointed out that “today is a special day, the 145th anniversary of the death of Ezequiel Zamora. Ministers, directors, brother peasants, small and medium producers, and big entrepreneurs: undertake the nationalist commitment to deepen this response that had been denied to us for centuries. Let the ministries and all those responsible put this decree into action”.

“I am sure that if we do so, we will deepen the country’s agrarian process, which seeks to produce affordable food for all Venezuelans and to guarantee the future of agriculture”.

Álvarez also exhorted the agrarian workers to unite and to form the Bolivarian Peasant Force, “that is what we want, and I am sure that if we do it, we will deepen the country’s agrarian process”. For this purpose he deems the formation of a production, distribution, and finance network convenient.