Venezuelan rural workers and farmers will rally Monday in the states of Merida and Zulia in defense of the Land Law, which the incoming opposition-controlled National Assembly has threatened to revoke.
Julio Borges, one of the incoming right-wing lawmakers who also seeks to become the president of the unicameral parliament, has said the law needs to be reformed or eliminated entirely.
During the campaign period leading up to the Dec. 6 legislative elections, the opposition coalition, known as the MUD, committed itself to leave the social gains in place should they win control of the National Assembly. Since then, many of the incoming legislators have signaled that they will target progressive legislation including labor and communications laws.
Campesino leaders consider any attempt to revoke the Land Law as an affront and an attack on their livelihoods.
“What we want is harmony in the country and that let the campesinos continue working in the agriculture sector,” said Edixon Evangelista Sousa, a spokesperson for the Campesino Front.
The current Land Law was first approved in 2001 a part of an effort to revitalize the agrarian sector and end the concentration of ownership of land in the hands of the few. It allows land deemed to be unproductive to be expropriated and handed over to landless campesinos.
Sousa added that the majority of lands that have been expropriated are now being used productively.
“Agriculture is sacred, it is food for the Venezuelan family.” Hugo Chavez Frias
The Land Law was one of the more radical laws to be implemented in the early years of the Bolivarian Revolution led by the late Hugo Chavez and is now seen as one of the changes that led right-wing politicians and business owners to stage a coup again him in 2002.
The law was reformed by the National Assembly in 2010 and declared the concentration of land and renting of parcels to be “systems contrary to justice, equality, the general interest and social peace in the country.”
Article 14 of the reformed Land Law also specifies that women should be the primary beneficiaries in the redistribution of land, followed by campesinos who labored on private land for more than three years.
As one of its last activities, the outgoing National Assembly approved a new seed law that will impose stricter regulations on hybrid seeds and ban transgenic seed research.
The Seed Law also mandates the state promotion of sustainable agriculture as the constitutional foundation of food security and rural development.
Brazil's Constitution also allows for unproductive land to be expropriated and turned over to landless campesinos.