At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 2, Carlos Bolívar, a member of the Peasant Platform in Guárico state, was assassinated. Since 2018, he had been fighting to rescue Los Tramojos, a plot of land disputed with a landowner. The Platform for Peasant Struggle and the National Peasant Movement reported in a statement that Bolívar was assassinated while beginning his work in Puerto Carrizalero-Camaguán, Guárico.
“Bolívar was a historic leader in the struggle to rescue the Los Tramojos ranch, an emblematic case of the Admirable Peasant March, national leader of the Platform for Peasant Struggle and the National Peasant Movement. He was also a spokesperson for the Ezequiel Zamora Commune of the El Jabillal 1 sector in Arismendi,” the Platform for Peasant Struggle and the National Peasant Movement wrote in their statement.
SICARIOS ASESINAN DIRIGENTE CAMPESINO Y COMUNERO CARLOS BOLIVAR
Con dolor e indignación informamos que nuestro hermano Bolivar fue sicariado en Camaguan, Guárico.
Era lider del rescate del Hato Los Tramojos
EXIGIMOS JUSTICIA!@NicolasMaduro @CeballosIchaso1 @delcyrodriguezv pic.twitter.com/DffCn4EC5i
— SOBERANÍA (@LUCHA_CAMPESINA) March 2, 2023
On August 1, 2018, after traveling over 400 kilometers on foot, a group of peasants arrived in Caracas to present proposals to the national government on agricultural matters and demand solutions to problems in the countryside. Carlos Bolívar was among the leaders of this mobilization.
The peasant movements requested that the Venezuelan government investigate this crime and demanded justice. “We call on the popular, peasant and communal movement to mobilize to demand truth and justice for the hundreds of victims of hired killings in the countryside.”
There will be justice
After learning of the murder, Guárico state Governor José Manuel Vásquez lamented the loss of the peasant leader. Vásquez has been criticized by many peasant organizations for his connections to the landowner who might be behind the assassination.
Meanwhile, Vásquez said the attack was perpetrated by “some unscrupulous people that we will search for under the stones if necessary.” He wrote on social media that “there will be justice!”
Supreme Court of Venezuela Rules in Favor of Peasants of Los Tramojos
Carlos Bolívar’s assassination has been condemned by several authorities. The president of the National Land Institute (INTI), David Hernández, wrote on social media, “I raise my voice and join the grassroots movement’s mourning for the murder of Carlos Bolívar, peasant leader of the historic rescue of Los Tramojos. Carlos, recently elected as spokesman for the National Land Commission, is and will be an example in the struggle. Justice for Bolívar!”
Venezuelan Minister for Communes and Social Movements Jorge Arreaza also repudiated the crime.
“A deep pain invades us. Carlos Bolívar was always a leader who protected the most humble, the landless, the good. A partner in fair fights. A man forged in revolution. The peasant people will continue to fight and honor Carlos’ dedication. Honor and Glory!” Arreaza wrote on social media.
Nos invade un profundo dolor. Carlos Bolívar fue siempre un líder que protegió a l@s más humildes, a l@s sin tierra, a l@s buen@s. Un compañero de luchas justas. Un hombre forjado en Revolución. El pueblo campesino seguirá luchando y honrará la entrega de Carlos. ¡Honor y Gloria! https://t.co/8knHwln4NB
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 2, 2023
National Assembly deputy and member of the tenants’ movement, Rigel Sergent, also highlighted the struggles of Carlos Bolívar. “The peasant movement reports that Carlos Bolívar, a member of the Peasant March, was assassinated today by hitmen… Bolívar led the recovery of the Los Tramojos ranch,” Sergent wrote.
#2Mar || Informa el movimiento campesino que Carlos Bolívar, integrante de la Marcha Campesina fue asesinato el día de hoy por sicarios….
Bolívar llevó adelante la recuperación del hato los Tramojos. pic.twitter.com/S4Lc5o5xWD
— Rigel Sergent (@RigelSergent) March 2, 2023
Grassroots multimedia project TatuyTv also wrote, “Sad and outrageous news that the peasant leader Carlos Bolívar has been assassinated by hitmen in Camaguán (Guárico state). Bolívar led the emblematic struggle to rescue Los Tramojos ranch. Landowner violence is still alive and unpunished.”
Triste e indignante la noticia que nos llega de que el dirigente campesino Carlos Bolívar ha sido asesinado por sicarios en Camaguán (Edo Guárico). Bolívar encabezó la emblemática lucha por el rescate del Hato Los Tramojos. La violencia terrateniente sigue viva e impune pic.twitter.com/e0dgACUIJF
— TatuyTv (@TatuyTv) March 2, 2023
In conversations with Diario VEA, Ramón Soto, spokesman for the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant Council of Los Tramojos, reported that Carlos Bolívar had received threats in 2018 from private individuals who claim ownership of Los Tramojos. Soto made it clear that these lands are owned by the state and that the men and women who work the land have kept it productive.
According to Soto, the name of a landowner emerged the same year. During an inspection carried out by INTI, Carlos Bolívar was threatened with death by that person in front of agrarian defender Norma Sierra. The landowner “warned him that he was going to bury him alive, that he was going to kill him. In plain sight… the landowner approached the comrade and publicly made a threat: ‘I’m going to kill you.’”
Soto explained that Bolívar sustained six bullet wounds to the abdomen and chest from a high-calibre weapon such as a rifle. Officials from the Scientific, Criminal and Criminal Investigation Corps (CICPC) removed Bolívar’s body before noon. Soto also reported that peasant organizations will go to the National Assembly and the headquarters of the Public Ministry to demand justice early next week.
He said that they are currently providing full support to Carlos Bolívar’s family.
What happened in Los Tramojos?
In 2019, Orinoco Tribune reported that Los Tramojos are productive public lands in the Municipality of Esteros de Camaguán, Guárico state. In 2010, Commander Hugo Chávez granted Los Tramojos to the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant Council, who were dedicated to raising cattle and cultivating the land.
According to Andrés Eleazar Ochoa, a member of the peasant organization, in 2016, their eviction from Los Tramojos by order of the agrarian judge María Margarita Salazar. Later, under the management of José Ávila, INTI handed Los Tramojos over to the lawyer and landowner José Elias Chirimelli. Chirimelli then executed the eviction with the support of the agrarian court, the Camaguán mayor’s office, then under the management of now-Governor of Guárico Jose Vásquez, and Guárico state security forces.” This dispute was described in a 2019 AlbaTV report translated by Orinoco Tribune.
Soto, a member of the Peasant Movement, recalled that in 2017 more than 40 families, comprising approximately 250 people, who lived in Los Tramojos were arbitrarily evicted from the land. The peasants were keeping these lands productive.
“After the respective investigations, in 2011, the Los Tramojos ranch was handed over to the peasants,” Soto stated. “These are lands that belong to the state. Six years later, the alleged owner, José Elías Chirimeli Hurtado, appeared with documentation forged with the help of some agrarian judges and carried out the eviction measure.”
In April 2022, through a Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) ruling, the protection measure requested by the individual claiming ownership of the land was denied, demonstrating the legitimate entitlement to the land allotted to the peasants.
With this ruling, Venezuela’s justice system settled a conflict that dates back to 2017, when approximately 50 peasants granted Los Tramojos in 2010 by Commander Hugo Chávez were forcibly evicted from the land. This eviction began a struggle not to lose their seven years’ worth of productive work, as stated by INTI on its website.
“From its sphere of action, the National Land Institute (INTI) has accompanied this peasant demand in an attempt to guarantee the rights of all parties and reach a consensus regarding the distribution of the property’s 4,800 hectares after the annulment of the private property; respecting the work of peasants who, after this ruling, will once again have their space for food production,” INTI’s website added.
(Alba Ciudad) Yuleidys Hernández Toledo and Carlos Batatin with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/March 30, 2023
orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/March 28, 2023
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