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Cablegate: Chavez Calls for Land Reform On "Alo Presidente"

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS CARACAS 002812

SIPDIS


FOR WHA/PDA,WHA/AND,INR/R/MR,PACE/PR/FPCW/WHA

NSC FOR CBARTON
USCINCSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS USAID FOR DCHA/OTI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV OPRC KIRC VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ CALLS FOR LAND REFORM ON "ALO PRESIDENTE"

-------
SUMMARY
-------
1. Agriculture was the main topic of President Chavez's
202nd "Alo, Presidente" which aired August 29. Indeed his
choice of a rural town, El Socorro, in the state of Guarico
helped to set the stage. During this event, as in recent
speeches before the National Assembly and other venues, he
called for the reformation of the land law. End Summary.

-------------------------------------
Agriculture to Return To Former Glory
-------------------------------------

2. Chavez stated, "Now the revolution has begun the road
toward construction of a agro-economy. We have been working
on this for some years, and 2004 will be a great year in
this endeavor, a leap forward in agricultural production."

3. Chavez began his call for land reform by noting that
there were persons who had thousands and thousands of
hectares of unused land. He complained that the current
land law says if you have 20,000 hectares and they are
producing it is not illegal. He also noted that 1,500
hectares seemed like an "adequate" size. He made a call to
the landowners of Guarico and of Venezuela, " I prefer that
we come to an arrangement." He continued saying, that "in
this new stage of the revolution, and I have told the
minister of agriculture today, and the president of the land
institute and I tell them in front of the whole country, I
insist on the severe application of the constitution and the
land law." He continued by saying the present law calls
for the "elimination of large land holdings" and it has to
be followed.

-----------------------------------
Neo-liberalism and Coup Fall-Guys
-----------------------------------
4. President Chvez began his remarks by laying the blame
for agricultural woes on neo-liberalism saying, "We are
hitting hard on land, on agriculture. Venezuela was an
agricultural country for many years, then came the oil and
the bad governments and we lost our national concept, that
is Venezuela lost its way, and installed a neo-liberal
capitalist system that abandoned the countryside, the rural
producers were left abandoned, the rural exodus, the
economic history of the twentieth century, we went to the
cities, we left the fields, and agriculture fell."

5. In another remark, Chavez noted "The rural area had no
access to technology, that is why we must leave aside the neo-
liberalism and it is the Government, the State assuming the
responsibility along with the private producers."

6. The program also included a video entitled, "The Agrarian
Revolution Marches Ahead." It began noting that the rural
struggle was being done in conjunction with the Bolivarian
government to "break the chains of dependence on oil, that
for many years relegated agriculture to a forgotten state.
And the 2002 anti-government strike demonstrates how
transnational interests penetrated our oil industry. We all
remember how we lacked basic goods and how they tried to
subjugate the desire for change of the Bolivarian people
with hunger."

7. When speaking of the fall in production of beef and pork,
Chavez called upon the minister of agriculture (Arnoldo
Marquez) to repeat the explanation for the fall. The
minister noted a fall of nine to eleven percent and blamed
the attempted coup. Chavez went on to say that such a fall
would not occur again because there now exists a government
that will be working with the "nationalistic private sector
to rid themselves of such a threat."

-----------------------------------
Private Producers Should Not Fear
-----------------------------------

8. Aware of the fact that private producers might find

something to fear in these suggestions, Chavez assured them,
"This revolution does not have anything against private
producers, on the contrary, we extend our hand to give them
credit, cheap credit, this is an example, an agreement with
China, we brought tractors from China and we will continue
to bring tractors and we give them to Venezuelan producers
on credit, to small producers and really cheap." He also
noted the purchase of Brazilian tractors.

--------------------------------------------- --
Cubans Thanked for Medical Aid to Rural Guarico
--------------------------------------------- --

9. President Chavez also talked about the poor of Guarico
and the support received from Cuba. He noted that there
were 36 people from Guarico that had not returned from Cuba,
where they were receiving medical aid. He also spoke of
other Venezuelans who likewise had traveled to Cuba:
Carabobo, 1,480; Miranda, 1,300; Barinas, 434; Vargas, 520;
Yaracuy, 601; and Zulia, 3,783. Currently he estimated
5,963 Venezuelans in Cuba. "For this we must thank the
Cuban revolution, the Cuban people, the Cuban medical
science, and their leader comrade Fidel Castro, thank you
very much. Thank you in the name of so many Venezuelans who
had lost the hope of seeing, recovering their sight to see
their corn fields, to see their loved ones, to see the sun
rise and set, thank you. This is a people coming out of the
darkness."


-------
Comment
-------

10. In this broadcast of "Alo Presidente," and on other
occasions, President Chavez has called for immediate
amendment of the current land law, to cap land ownership at
10,000 hectares per person (rather than the current 20,000
hectares), while at the same time making contradictory
statements to allay the fear of the private sectors.

BROWNFIELD


NNNN
2004CARACA02812 - UNCLASSIFIED

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