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Campesinos on the march in Venezuela

By Sean Orr |
August 3, 2018
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The Admirable Campesino March.
The Admirable Campesino March.

Milwaukee, WI - For several days, tens of thousands of campesinos have marched into Caracas from every corner of Venezuela - some having traveled for weeks - calling for a revolutionary struggle to resolve the land crisis. Called the “Admirable Campesino March," the demonstration was organized and led by a number of revolutionary groups, including the Communist Party.

Since the start of the Bolivarian Revolution there has been a vicious struggle over ownership of the land. Like the rest of South America, the clear majority of Venezuela's farmland belongs to a handful of wealthy families, many of whom trace their ancestry back to the Spanish colonizers.

Land reform began during the Chávez government, and significant portions of land were distributed to poor rural families. Yet to this day, much of the farmland is still the domain of the old Creole aristocracy. They refuse to give up their power. In the years since the land reform, hundreds of campesino activists have been assassinated by far-right Colombian paramilitaries, hired by the wealthy landlords to terrorize their revolutionary-minded workforce. Local politicians, paid off by the landlords, look the other way and many of these murders remain unresolved.

The question of the land is all the more pertinent today. Venezuela is wracked by economic crisis, spurred on by capitalist sabotage and an economic blockade enforced by the United States. Most of the country's food has to be imported, and the fear over food security could be resolved if the land belonged to those willing to produce on it. The Venezuelan masses desire national sovereignty, and this includes the ability to feed themselves.

It is in this context that the Admirable Campesino March has been undertaken. Along with their demand for revolutionary land redistribution, the campesinos demand a distribution of seeds to small farmers, justice for the families of slain campesino activists, and a national plan to achieve food sovereignty.

On August 2, President Nicolás Maduro spoke to a crowd of the marchers and gave support to their demands. At this weekend's 4th Congress of the United Socialist Party (PSUV), Maduro had called on the Venezuelan people to take actions just like the marchers, for all revolutionary forces and classes to work to develop the productive forces in order to create an independent national economy.

Maduro united with the campesinos, declaring, “the laws must be changed in order to have a revolutionary agrarian system of the 21st century, in the hands of the people." The march leaders agreed with Maduro to hold a Great National Campesino Congress in late September with the goal of implementing the demands of the country's campesinos.

Every day millions of Venezuelans - imbued with a revolutionary consciousness only possible after decades of major social advances via the class struggle - are working to build a new society that operates in their interests. The workers and campesinos have taken it on themselves to solve the crisis they face, while the wealthy in their country and ours sneer at them, blaming their desire for freedom and socialism as the cause of their suffering. But we know the truth, and the revolutionary Venezuelan people - like their campesino comrades - march on.