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The cannibalism of the revolution

By Veneconomy

Caracas 06.10.06| The quality of Venezuelan cacao goes back to before Colonial times. The varieties Maracaibo, Chuao and Choroni are equal -if not superior- to the world's most prized fine cacaos. Today, the fine cacaos account for 5% of the world's total cacao crops, and Venezuela has excellent possibilities of its fine cacao capturing 50% of the total world export market.

One would think that the Bolivarian government, which is constantly trumpeting the importance for the economy of "banner products" and endogenous production, would give support and incentives to the small cacao producers who eke out a living in the eastern (Sucre and Delta), central (Miranda and Aragua), and western (Barinas, Zulia and Tachira) regions of the country.

But, if the experience of some small producers in Barlovento, Miranda state, is anything to go by, it seems as though the exact opposite is true. These small producers are receiving absolutely no protection from the law and have been left at the mercy of groups of vandals who have damaged their property and crops and threatened them with violence while the National Lands Institute (INTI) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands remain totally indifferent.

What happened recently at Hacienda Agricola La Concepcion, located between Panaquire and El Clavo (Miranda), is a case in point. This is a privately owned farm with proven deeds of title going back to 1738 and it is fully productive with 308.75 hectares given over to fine cacao and trees for timber.

Agricola La Concepcion C.A., the owner of the farm, has worked hard at developing an excellent cacao of the highest quality that has won international recognition. This small company exports its entire production to Europe Japan, and the United States, where it has positioned Venezuelan cacaos with chocolate houses such as Michel Cluizel and Scharffen Berger. It also gives technical, financial, and marketing assistance to another 47 producers in the area and in Aragua state. Moreover, in the purest Bolivarian spirit, Agricola La Concepcion supported some of its former workers in setting up a cooperative (Cooperativa Emprendedores del Cacao 1902), which operates and maintains production both at La Concepcion and the Cacao Processing Plant, where all member producers in the area process their cacao.

On September 20 this year, the farm was invaded -with violence- by a group calling itself a cooperative and with the support of the INTI. As a result, nearly a hundred people were prevented from working, the property was ransacked and wrecked, seeds destroyed, and the crop stolen. Now this group poses a permanent threat to owners and workers alike, keeping them in a state of anxiety, while the authorities have turned a deaf ear to the complaints and requests for help filed by the farm's administrators.

It seems that neither small producers nor those who, in good faith, have tried to follow the guidelines of the cooperativism preached by the Bolivarians are safe from cannibalism in this revolution.

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