[News] Venezuela Creates Peasant Militias

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 23 11:58:56 EST 2010

Venezuela Creates Peasant Militias, Enacts Federal Government Council

Published on February 22nd 2010, by Kiraz Janicke - Venezuelanalysis.com

Caracas, February 22, 2010 (venezuelanalysis.com) 
– Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the 
creation of a new Peasant Militia, which will 
form part of the national Bolivarian Armed Forces 
(FAB) and also enacted the new Law of the Federal 
Government Council, during a ceremony to 
commemorate 151 years since the Federal War lead 
by peasant leader General Ezequiel Zamora in Venezuela on Saturday.

The peasant militia will be responsible for 
protecting poor farmers from mercenary groups 
organized and financed by ranchers and wealthy 
landowners, Chavez explained in his weekly 
column, “Chavez’s Lines” on Sunday. More than 300 
peasant leaders and activists have been murdered 
since the government introduced the Law on Land 
and Agricultural Development in 2001 and launched a program of agrarian reform.

Some 1,505 farms totalling 2.5 million hectares 
have been recovered and redistributed under the 
agrarian reform program. However, “The landowning 
oligarchy launched a violent agenda against the 
rescue of the commons,” Chavez said.

Manuel Heredia, president of the National 
Ranchers Federation responded that “As an 
institution, we have never sought paramilitary 
groups to protect us,” but he did not rule out 
the possibility that individual members maybe be 
involved in financing paramilitary groups, 
saying, “If one of our members is proven guilty 
of a crime, then they should pay for their crime.”

Chavez argued, “Faced with the backlash against 
the peasants through an escalation of attacks, 
sabotage, and paid assassinations by the most 
retrograde forces in our society, the 
non-delegable duty of the Bolivarian national 
state and the revolutionary government is to 
protect the peasantry: to defend them with all means at its disposal.”

“The peasant militia has been created to fulfil 
that duty, placing emphasis on the protagonism 
and responsibility of the peasantry as a 
collective subject in function of their own defence,” the president continued.

Rebutting opposition sectors who have alleged 
that the new militias are paramilitary groups, 
Chavez explained that the peasant militias will 
form part of the Bolivarian Armed Forces, and 
“therefore, do not undermine it, nor are they 
intended to supplant it” and will be “absolutely 
regulated by the law,” adding, “What bothers and 
annoys those who spread such lies, is that the 
Armed Forces have been reunited with their 
original identity: the people in arms.”

The peasant militia will also assist the regular 
army “against any foreign aggressor,” wrote 
Chavez, who has warned that the U.S. military 
could invade Venezuela in order to seize control of its vast oil reserves.

“We have no plans to attack anyone, but we will 
turn Venezuela into a country that is able to 
defend every last inch of its territory,” the 
president told thousands of supporters on Saturday.

For Chavez, the peasant militias “are just a 
first sign of developing a popular armed force to 
safeguard our integrity and our sovereignty” and 
are “expressions of the new communal state; an 
integral part of the new structures of communal power that we are building.”

The peasant militias, which are active in rural 
areas, will complement the primarily urban-based 
Bolivarian Militias, which were incorporated into 
the reform of the Armed Forces Law that came into force on October 22, 2009.

Major General and Defence Minister Carlos Mata 
Figueroa described the peasant militias, which 
began training in the state of Cojedes last week 
as a “strategic arm for the defence of our republic.”

During the ceremony on Saturday, which was 
attended by a contingent of the new peasant 
militia, Chavez also signed the new Law of the 
Federal Government Council, which aims to 
decentralize a range of powers away from 
traditional municipal and state authorities and 
transfer those powers to grassroots communal 
councils, involving more people in the evaluation 
and approval of financial resources.

The Federal Government Council will consist of 
elected governors, mayors, members of the 
executive, as well as spokespeople elected in 
popular elections and representatives of the communal councils.

The new Law of the Federal Government Council “is 
a powerful tool for the construction of a 
socialist homeland
to give shape to a new 
geometry of popular, political, social, communal 
and military power” and to create a new organ of 
“revolutionary power to continue fighting against 
the oligarchy and empire, to continue building 
the independence of our nation,” Chavez declared.

As part of the ceremony Chavez also unveiled a 
new stature of Zamora in El Calvario Park in 
western Caracas and renamed the park, Ezequiel Zamora Park.

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