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Venezuela Farmers Resist Economic Blockade by Increasing Food Production

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2021/03/10, 12:13Venezuela: Farmers Resist Economic Blockade by Increasing Food Production | Analysis | teleSUR English
Page 1 of 6https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Venezuela-Farmers-Resist-…nomic-Blockade-by-Increasing-Food-Production--20200210-0024.html
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Venezuela: Farmers Resist Economic
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Analysis
Due to the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the United States (U.S.) and its
allies, the import of food, seeds, fertilizers, machinery, and other basic necessities has
been restricted in Venezuela. As a result, food production registered a 60
percent decrease at the national level, but small and medium-scale farmers in
Venezuela are ‘betting’ on growing food with the least use possible of commercial
inputs, as a way to resist the economic blockade that has plagued the country since
2014.
Young people and women are playing active
leadership roles in the process. “It is our historical
responsibility as the youth to defend the [Bolivarian]
revolution and continue with the task of building
socialism as the popular forces of Venezuela. And we
are doing it here by combining food production with
political-ideological education”, says Elisa Peña, a
young woman involved with the El Maizal commune, in
Lara and Portuguesa states in Western Venezuela.
Inducing food shortages to increase hunger in
sanctioned countries has been one of the U.S.’s
favorite strategies to instigate popular revolts and
force the ousting of the leadership from governments.
In Venezuela, however, this does not seem to have
produced the intended effect. The widespread
patriotism that is perceived in the Venezuelan people
is driving measures and actions aimed at defending
national sovereignty at the same time as building food sovereignty.
The National Peasant Front Ezequiel Zamora as part of the Corriente
Revolucionaria Bolivar y Zamora. Photo: Boaventura Monjane
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2021/03/10, 12:13Venezuela: Farmers Resist Economic Blockade by Increasing Food Production | Analysis | teleSUR English
Page 2 of 6https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Venezuela-Farmers-Resist-…nomic-Blockade-by-Increasing-Food-Production--20200210-0024.html
The Venezuelan Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora (National Peasant
Front Ezequiel Zamora, FNCEZ) as part of the Corriente Revolucionaria Bolivar y
Zamora (Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current, CRBZ) has launched a National
Productive Alliance (Alianza Nacional Productiva) together with several cooperatives
and communes to revitalize food production at the national level, to meet the country’s
food needs.
According to Kevin Rangel, the national coordinator of the FNCEZ, “the strongest
attack on Venezuela’s national sovereignty was the economic element and more
specifically the food element”. “The [National Productive] alliance is, therefore, an
instrument to empower small and medium-scale producers, conuqueros [peasant
farmers], the communes and the landless peasants and urge them to take the task of
producing and feeding the nation as a priority”, he added.
In the states of Lara, Portuguesa, Barinas, and Apure various farmers associations,
cooperatives and communes are putting forward production alliances that scale up to
include processing and distribution in their communities and beyond. These states are
located in the western part of the country and concentrate on about 70 percent of the
whole peasantry and food producers in Venezuela.
Most of the farmlands now in the possession of cooperatives and communes in the
region were handed over to the peasantry after being expropriated from landed
oligarchies which concentrated the bulk of the productive lands in Venezuela.
In an “all-out war against the latifundio”, the land was ‘recovered’ as a measure to
resolve the then prevailing deep inequalities in land ownership and access. The
process of land recovery was headed by the then president of Venezuela, Hugo
Chavez with the support of the army. According to Venezuelan vice-minister of
International Communications, Willian Castillo, “the rural sector and the peasantry has
been the most affected social group by the violence deployed by the paramilitaries
brought in from Colombia and other countries, in revenge for the policies of land
recovery and nationalization”. Those are, he added, “the monsters of the latifundia
that still operate in our country, some of them still anchored in the State”.
Paradigm Shifting in Food Systems
Historically, Venezuela’s economy has depended excessively on the oil sector. One of
the objectives of the Bolivarian revolution, with the arrival of Hugo Chavez in power,
was to diversify the economy, for instance through boosting agricultural production
across Venezuela.
A significant number of people once settled in urban centers returned to the
countryside to embrace farming activities in response to the government's call for rural
revitalization. However, agricultural production in Venezuela has largely been
controlled by agribusiness and depended on imported industrial inputs.
The ongoing economic attack on Venezuela, which for instance resulted in a ‘blockade’
on the import of seeds, is nevertheless triggering a paradigm shift among small and
medium-scale farmers, especially those working under the umbrella of Frente Nacional
Campesino Ezequiel Zamora, to move away from agricultural systems dependent on
external inputs.
“The economic blockade and the attack on Venezuela, as terrible as it is, is allowing us
to find innovative ways to produce our food and secure our local food sovereignty,
without depending on external industrial seeds and fertilizers”, says Braulio Marquez, a
spokesperson at Ali Primera productive commune, in Apure. The commune chose the
name in honor of Ali Primera, the world-famous late Venezuelan musician, composer,
poet, and political activist whose songs condemned exploitation and repression while
celebrating people's resistance. His most well-known song was “Techos de Carton”
(cardboard shacks), about the hard life faced by slum dwellers.
According to Amparo Leal, a woman leader and spokesperson of La Gran Union
Simon y Bolivar Commune, “farmers are determined to produce. The situation is
difficult, but we have to confront the boycott, the blockade and the sabotage by
intensifying production, diversify crops and supply the communes and the country”.
Amparo is also part of the self-government (auto-gobierno) of de Ciudad Comunal
Productiva Simon Bolivar in Apure.
2021/03/10, 12:13Venezuela: Farmers Resist Economic Blockade by Increasing Food Production | Analysis | teleSUR English
Page 3 of 6https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Venezuela-Farmers-Resist-…nomic-Blockade-by-Increasing-Food-Production--20200210-0024.html
The ongoing economic attack on Venezuela, which for instance
resulted in a ‘blockade’ on the import of seeds, is nevertheless
triggering a paradigm shift among small and medium-scale farmers.
Photo: Boaventura Monjane
The Communes and the Production Units
The productive communes (comunas productivas) are envisioned to be independent
administrative and political spaces towards the building of self-governments in the
territories. Communal cities and the communes, in general, seek to transcend the
bureaucratic forms of territorial management and political organization of a “bourgeois
state.”
“We are putting forward a model, inspired by Chavez, to introduce a new geometry of
power. From below in the territories we are generating an organizational process in
which the decision-making process is held horizontally”, explains Jose Luis Sifontes,
member of the political committee of the Comuna ‘El Maizal’.
The idea of communal organization, as an alternative to the political organization of the
bourgeois state, goes back several decades in Venezuela. With the process of the
Bolivarian revolution, however, this process has been pushed even further. The goal
was to construct a new social fabric that would allow the people to truly exercise their
power.
As Willian Castillo explains, communal democracy - this is, the power exercised by
the people with widely decentralized mechanisms of management, production,
distribution, and consumption without the interference of the State - was the condition
for building of socialism, as Hugo Chavez would define it. The first laws on communal
power were enacted in the mid-2000s in Venezuela.
The Gran Unipn Simon Bolivar Communal City in Apure, a collective of eight
communes, was the first to elect self-government, in 2008, after a long organizational
process driven by the Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora that started in the
90. It consists of 116,000 hectares, 39 communal councils and 7600 inhabitants. This
Communal city collectively produces a great diversity of crops among cereals,
legumes, oilseeds, meat, milk and fruits.
In the case of Comuna Maizal, farmers are currently producing 60 tons of corn per
month, “a production that allows us to supply the demand we have in the territory and
that leaves us with a surplus. It allows us to take production to other regions”, says
José Luis Sifontes.
The FNCEZ is a member of the international peasant movement, La Via Campesina.
FCEZ was born with the intention to contribute to the Bolivarian revolutionary process
and to contribute in a concrete way to the process of transforming the agrarian model
and revolutionize the countryside.
Boaventura Monjane is a Mozambican journalist and Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for
Social Studies, University of Coimbra. He was part of the first international solidarity of
La Via Campesina with Venezuela that took place in January 2020.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not
necessarily reflect the official position of La Via Campesina.
2021/03/10, 12:13Venezuela: Farmers Resist Economic Blockade by Increasing Food Production | Analysis | teleSUR English
Page 4 of 6https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Venezuela-Farmers-Resist-…nomic-Blockade-by-Increasing-Food-Production--20200210-0024.html
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2021/03/10, 12:13Venezuela: Farmers Resist Economic Blockade by Increasing Food Production | Analysis | teleSUR English
Page 6 of 6https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Venezuela-Farmers-Resist-…nomic-Blockade-by-Increasing-Food-Production--20200210-0024.html
... Auf der Ebene der chavistischen Basis wiederum kommt es angesichts der erschwerten Lebensbedingungen einerseits zu deutlichen Entpolitisierungsprozessen unter den historisch marginalisierten Bevölkerungsgruppen. Andererseits erlebt der organisierte Bereich der Comunas im Kontext der Krise neue, wenn auch prekäre und sehr konfliktive Impulse (Grajales und Rojas in diesem Heft; Lambert 2020a). So haben angesichts von Wirtschaftssanktionen und Versorgungsengpässen lokale agrarökologische Projekte als Möglichkeiten zur Selbstversorgung und zur Stärkung der Ernährungssouveränität an Bedeutung gewonnen (Monjane 2020 ...
... A February 2020 article in TeleSUR blames them for the restriction of "the import of food, seeds, fertilizers, machinery, and other basic necessities," resulting in food production registering "a 60 percent decrease at the national level." The article goes on to describe the efforts of "several cooperatives and communes to revitalize food production at the national level, to meet the country's food needs" (Monjane 2020). The framing serves two purposes. ...
Article
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.