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Mixed signals on land intervention by Venezuela's Governors

By Miguel Octavio

03.01.05 | Sometimes it is truly hard to know what is going on. On the same day that the Governor of Yaracuy, not exactly Daniel’s favorite person, issues his own decree “rescuing” lands in his state, the Land Institute issues a communiqué saying that the intervention of lands requires a presidential decree. (El Nacional, page A-14, by subscription). Thus, three decrees intervening land and now a step back?

Well, as usual, it is unclear. All the Land Institute is saying is that it will have a meeting tomorrow about these issues. The Land Institute did say that Governors and Mayors have the duty to fulfill with the requirements of legislation, but is qualifies the need for a presidential decree to do it.

Thus, it is not as easy as the Governor of Cojedes suggested, saying that legal formalities have to be bypassed in the name of social Justice. Even if Governor Yanez had the backing of the President it is clear that there are some divisions on the issue. First of all, there is the Head of the Land Institute Eliezer Otaiza who obviously feels threatened as the interventions by the Governors certainly make his Land Institute useless. Moreover, all of the Governors have been saying they acted because of the slowness by the Land Institute in executing its mandates, something that affects Otaiza directly as he may go out of favor in the eyes of President Chavez.

But the most significant problem appears to be that the Governor of Cojedes included the land of the El Charcote farm, owned by British Group Vestey and that Embassy has not only expressed its concerns about the intervention, but apparently the Vice-President of Venezuela José Vicente Rangel had made promises to British authorities about their land being protected.

So, this is simply another reflection of improvisation, disregard for the law and the fear by the Chavista Government of international repercussions to their actions. A true revolution would simply not care about the British and some rich British family with investments in Venezuela. But this is a revolution based on the manipulation of the media and information, particularly the foreign media, thus this issue may hurt because of the inclusion of foreign land.

In the days ahead we should have a clearer picture of what is going on. Our suspicion is that we will see some form of unifying concept to try to give these gubernatorial decrees some legality followed by a promise of coordination by the Institute of Land. Ninety days from now, as the decrees term expires, the issue will once again be revived with full force.

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