22 Feb 2010

Peasant shootings prompt Venezuela farm militias

Venezuela will train peasant militias that work with soldiers as tensions rise with landowners after a spate of shootings of small farmers, including two attempts on one man's life this year.


While Venezuelan law allows reservist militias to carry weapons, Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua did not say whether the groups will be armed. He said they will be installed on farms from December.
"Don't make us march with guns and swords in hand," Jaua said at a meeting in the rural state of Guarico late on Thursday. "We are ready to accept the challenge and face the landowning oligarchs, who should accept the responsibility of which path they chose."
Dozens of peasant farmers have been shot dead in Venezuela in the four years since the OPEC nation's President Hugo Chavez started a land program that has stripped large landholders of millions of acres deemed to be idle or illegally obtained.

Reuters - Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora