Over the weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was informed that Agroflora, an affiliate of the British Vestey Group, illegally set up a fence that encircled 200 Yaruro indigenous people. According to the denunciations filed by Representative Cristóbal Jiménez, “the farm put up a fence around them and they can’t get out without permission from the farm owners.” Another 800 People remained outside of the fence.
After learning this on Sunday, Chavez quickly ordered the National Guard to demolish the fence, allowing the indigenous people to once again move freely. “If they want to demand something from the State, then they shall demand it, but we cannot permit them to fence in an indigenous community,” Chávez proclaimed.
Elias Jaua, The Minister of Agriculture and Land, also took steps to ensure the Yaruro will be able to move freely on a continued basis. He informed Agroflora that nearly 10,000 acres of land will now be confiscated by the state. This is not the first time such a move has been taken against the British food empire.
Representative Jiménez also deplored that Agroflora posseses hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the state of Apure, specifically the Caña Pístola farm, which occupies over 185,000 acres, the Turagua farm, which occupies over 74,000 acres, the Punta de Mata farm, and the 260,000 acre Los Cocos farm. The director of the National Land Institute (INTI), Juan Carlos Loyo, confirmed that the majority of these lands are not being used for production because Agroflora claims they constitute a natural reserve. In response, Chávez asserted that if that is true, then natural reserves should pertain to the State and not to a private consortium.
[…] The representative also mentioned other estates of various owners, like the 260,000 acre Los Cocos farm, the 99,000 acre Mata de Palo farm in the municipality of Achaguas, the 67,000 acre Los Viejitos farm, the 100,000 acre Las Delicias farm, and El Porvenir, which occupies over 100,000 acres. The owners of all of these estates have only been able to demonstrate original property ownership of less than 10,000 acres. Chávez asked for an immediate investigation of these lands.
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