At a mass rally of 10,000 people on Monday January 10, Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez announced a new decree aimed at speeding up land reform. Since the Land Act was passed in December 2001, the National Land Institute has already distributed 5.5 million acres of land to peasant cooperatives. Up until now all the land distributed has been state-owned land and there have been no expropriations. The new decree is aimed at the large landed estates (latifundia) that have been left idle or are poorly used.

Commander William Izarra is a retired air force officer, with long standing links with left wing movements, including with leaders of the PRV. He was in charge of ideology in the National Maisanta Commando, and is seen as one of the most consistent and left wing elements within the Bolivarian leadership. This interview was conducted by comrades of the Revolutionary Marxist Current for our paper El Topo Obrero, on December 7th, in his Caracas home.

As was to be predicted, London’s Financial Times reacted negatively to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s announcement of a speeding up of land reform. We did not expect less from the FT, a paper that has always unashamedly defended the interests of capital. However, what we did not expect was for the FT to argue that the “best way to address rural poverty”, was for businesses to “pay decent wages and guarantee good working conditions for its workers”!