Venezuela’s Rural Social Movements Condemn Murder of Two Peasant Activists

Coro, April 18th 2011 ( – Earlier this week, an affiliation of rural social movements took to the streets of La Pedrera, Barinas state, to protest the kidnapping, torture and murder of two peasant political activists last week. The numerous organisations which included; the Revolutionary Current of Bolivar and Zamora, the Ezequial Zamora National Peasant’s Front, the Worker’s Popular Power Movement, and the Antonio José de Sucre Socialist Community Peasant Centre, demanded an investigation into the murders and urged the government to take further action to end impunity for the perpetrators of assassinations against peasants. Waving banners and flags, the crowd gathered outside the public prosecutor’s office and chanted slogans such as “lucha, lucha, lucha!” (We will fight, fight, fight!).

The two murdered activists, José Joel Torres Leves and Agustín Gamboa Duran, were members of the Ezequial Zamora National Peasant’s Front in Barinas. On the 12 April 2011 they were forcibly taken from their houses during the night by six armed men wearing masks, who then smuggled them into a pickup truck. The two men’s bodies were then found on the 14 April under a bridge in the surrounding area, bringing the number of peasants murdered in Venezuela since 2001 to 250 – with no convictions to date.

In a statement released by the Revolutionary Current of Bolivar and Zamora, the organization attributed the murders to members of Venezuela’s state security forces, commenting that the way in which the abductors were dressed, as well as the vehicles and arms that they carried, were reminiscent of state security personnel – particularly those such as DIM, GAES, CICPC and SEBIN, who conduct counter-insurgency activities against guerrillas at the border. Criticising the use of old practises within Venezuela’s security forces, the statement continues:

“It’s no secret that a culture of torture and human rights violations still persists within our security forces, despite having a government that has worked to eliminate these practices”.

Peasants involved in political activism have become increasingly under threat since the Land Reform Law of 2001 was passed, inciting violence from reactionary landlords. Reported cases include accounts of landowners hiring hit men to execute peasants and intimidate them into abstaining from further political mobilisation for progressive land reform.

Despite these repressive conditions, social organisations have vowed to continue to mobilise. In a comment made to Radio del Sur, a peasant leader stated:

“We will not allow the fascists from the 4th Republic (the political system that prevailed before Hugo Chavez’s 5thRepublic Movement took power) to stamp out the development of revolutionary social movements.”

Reaffirming their commitment to deepening the revolutionary process and to advancing the construction of socialism from below, the Revolutionary Current of Bolivar and Zamora declared themselves to be in a state of ‘permanent mobilisation’ until justice is done. 


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