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”!
The oil supply to the US from Venezuela has been cut once in recent
years. The reason for this cut was the bosses’ lockout at Petroleos de
Venezuela (PDVSA) that took place at the end of 2002 and the beginning
of 2003. Now the recent trip of President Chavez to China has made top
ranking members of the US administration uneasy.
The dispute between Venezuela and Colombia over the kidnapping of a
FARC leader in Caracas continues and threatens to involve other Latin
American countries. It is becoming increasingly clear that this
incident is part of a renewed offensive by Washington against
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.
Dramatic events are unfolding in Venezuela. Although the nationalisation of Venepal in itself it does not yet mean a qualitative change in the class nature of the Venezuelan Revolution, this bold measure certainly signifies a step in the right direction. It indicates that the working class is intervening in the Revolution with increasing determination, pressing for its independent class interests, demanding a break with capitalism and pushing the Revolution forwards.