Land reform in Venezuela increased land owned by 200k famers to 2.5 million HA

June 5, 2015


Monte Sacro, a 6,000-acre farm in a fertile, hilly region near the town of Bejuma, has seen real benefits from Mission AgroVenezuela.“Beyond producing food, we are producing new men and women with a new quality of life,” said 27-year-old farmer Renee Aponte, one of thirty-two farmers in the co-op, eight of whom are women. “We’re trying to liberate the peasants, who are used to working in a system where they work and work for poor wages to enrich a few people.”Previously owned by the Rockefeller family, the land was used in the past to produce buffalo, cattle and thoroughbred horses. Now, in addition to plantains, sunflowers (for oil), black beans and other vegetables, corn will be grown by the new landholders to be turned into flour—used to make arepa, a corn flatbread that is a daily Venezuelan staple.The Monte Sacro farmers seized this property in 2009 under the Land Law, a policy Chávez put in place in 2001 that specifies that idle plots of state land as well as large private estates are eligible for redistribution to peasant farmers. So far, this policy has enabled ownership of 2.5 million hectares of land—mostly latifundios, large tracts concentrated in ownership and either producing for export or idle—to shift to around 200,000 peasant farmers.Land reform also sparked new problems. Since 2001, 255 peasants, including two children, have been killed in retaliation for land seizures. Three people have been jailed, but many say the government is not doing enough to protect peasants, who often resort to forming twenty-four-hour security detailsPaula Crossfield, Venezuela's Radical Food Experiment, The Nation, October 3, 2011

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