Agrarian Reform in Venezuela

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Agrarian Reform in Venezuela Case Study of a Fundo Zamorano in the State of Monagas
Sintjago, Alfonso
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (218 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Latin American Studies
Committee Chair:
Deere, Carmen
Committee Members:
Useche, Maria Del Pilar
Royce, Frederick
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Agrarian reform ( jstor )
Agricultural land ( jstor )
Agriculture ( jstor )
Crops ( jstor )
Land development ( jstor )
Land distribution ( jstor )
Land ownership ( jstor )
Land productivity ( jstor )
Law reform ( jstor )
Private land ( jstor )
Latin American Studies -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
agrarian, agriculture, alejandro, changes, chavez, fundo, hugo, humboldt, mision, monagas, reform, revolution, socialism, zamorano
City of Gainesville ( local )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Latin American Studies thesis, M.A.


Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master in Arts AGRARIAN REFORM IN VENEZUELA: CASE STUDY OF A FUNDO ZAMORANO IN THE STATE OF MONAGAS By ALFONSO JOScapital e acute SINTJAGO CORDOVA August, 2009 Chair: Carmen Diana Deere Major: Latin American Studies After previous unsuccessful attempts in bringing about agrarian reform, the current Venezuelan administration is attempting to improve the conditions of the campesino through the expropriation of large idle land holdings and their redistribution to landless peasants. Through the agrarian reform the government of Hugo Cha acutevez is also attempting to reduce its food import dependence. In 2005, Venezuela imported over 70 percent of their food stuffs while having the smallest agricultural sector in Latin America, 6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product. In an attempt to meet this goal and improve the living conditions of the rural poor, the government has implemented a number of initiatives to bring about land redistribution and rural development, known as misiones (missions). This study reviews the history of agrarian reform in Venezuela and describes the current agrarian reform of the government of Hugo Cha acutevez and its achievements and limitations. It presents a case study of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt in the state of Monagas, one of 85 Fundo Zamoranos nationally. Drawing on participant observation, interviews, and government data, the thesis analyzes the achievements and difficulties faced by the cooperatives which constitute the fundo, and evaluates the sustainability of the project. The study of the Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt provides insight into the larger changes taking place in the Venezuelan countryside. From 2003 to 2008, the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt continuously increased its agricultural production. The greatest difficulties faced by the fundo originated in the lack of communication and coordination between the government and agricultural production units, and the continuously decreasing number of members per cooperative. At the time of this study the fundo was not yet sustainable requiring continuous technical and financial assistance. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Adviser: Deere, Carmen.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Alfonso Sintjago.

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Copyright Sintjago, Alfonso. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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2 2009 A lfonso Jos S intjago Cordova


3 To my parents and my brother who have helped me and supported me through my studies, w ithout their help particularly in the long nights and weekends invested i n this research t his thesis would not have been possible t hank you for e ncouraging me to follow throug h with my goals and aspirations


4 ACNOWLEDGMENTS My investigation in Venezuela would not have been possible without the support of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida which provided the necessary funding and the instructio nal support to conduct my study. I n particular this study was possible thanks to a Tinker Foundation Summer Field Research Grant which allowed me to carry out research in Venezuela between May and August of 2008. I would like to thank Dr. Carmen Diana Deere, my advisor and tutor at the University of Florida who motivated me to explore the effects of the current agrarian reform taking place in Venezuela. Her advice and support were instrumental to the completion of my thesis. I would like to also expre ss a special thanks to Dr. Frederick Royce and Dr. Pilar Useche who apart from serving as my thesis readers were my instructors in the seminar s on Agrarian Reform in Latin America, and Latin American Economic Development during my graduate studies at the U niversity of Florida. A special gratitude is extended to all those in Venezuela who contributed to this study in particular, Dr. Carlos Viso and Ms. Dar i a Hernandez as well as others who guided my project and provided me with the contacts to make this research possible I would like to thank all of the cooperative members at the F undo Z amorano Alejandro de Humboldt in particular the spokeperson of the fundo as well as the president and members of the different production units who provided me wi th insight into the inner workings of the fundo I would also like to thank the government officials who permitted me access to the fundo and made this study possible Special thanks to all of the individuals who participated in the interviews for their ti me and effort in helping me finalize this project


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACNOWLEDGMENTS ....................................................................................................................... 4 TABLE OF CONTENTS ..................................................................................................................... 5 LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................................................ 7 LIST OF FIGURES .............................................................................................................................. 9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................................................ 11 ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................................ 13 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................. 15 Objectives and Organization ...................................................................................................... 15 Why Agrarian Reform? ............................................................................................................... 17 Rural Venezuela and the Marginalization of the Peasant ......................................................... 22 Geography and Land in Venezuela ............................................................................................ 24 Organization of the Thesis .......................................................................................................... 26 LAND AND AGRICULTURE IN VENEZUELAN DEVELOPMENT ....................................... 30 Chapter Objectives ...................................................................................................................... 30 History of Land Ownership in Venezuela ................................................................................. 30 Changing Demographics and Increased Oil Dependency ........................................................ 37 1960 Law of Agrarian Reform ................................................................................................... 38 Resu lts of the 1960 Agrarian Reform ........................................................................................ 40 Cooperatives in Venezuela before the Chvez Administration................................................ 49 Food Production before the Chvez Government ..................................................................... 53 Worsening Socio -Economic Conditions and the 1998 Election of Hugo Chvez .................. 56 Discussion and Analysis ............................................................................................................. 59 CHVEZS AGRARIAN REFORM ................................................................................................ 64 Objectives .................................................................................................................................... 64 Legal Framework ........................................................................................................................ 65 Sources of Lands for the Agrarian Reform: National Lands vs. Expropriations .................... 73 Fundos Zamoranos and Their Organizational Structure ........................................................... 75 Administration of the Reform and Rural Development Initiatives .......................................... 77 Achievements of the 2001 Agrarian Reform ............................................................................. 87 2001 Special Law of Cooperatives ............................................................................................ 90 Production Crisis -Shortage of Agrarian Goods? ................................................................... 93 Violence as a Result of the Agrarian Reform ............................................................................ 98 Discussion and Analysis ............................................................................................................. 99


6 CASE STUDY: FUNDO ZAMORANO ALEJANDRO DE HUMBOLDT ............................ 106 Overview and Methodology ..................................................................................................... 106 History of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt ...................................................... 108 Goals and Objectives of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt ............................... 112 The Struggle against Capitalism and an Individualist Mentality ........................................... 113 Organization of Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt ................................................... 115 Distribution of Land within the Fundo .................................................................................... 120 Memb ership Problems at Alejandro de Humboldt .................................................................. 123 Government Administration of the Fundo ............................................................................... 125 Women at Alejandro de Humboldt .......................................................................................... 127 Reaching the Fundo Location, Transportation and Road Conditions ................................. 128 Terrain at Alejandro de Humboldt Land Types and Classificati ons ................................... 131 Social Conditions at Alejandro de Humboldt .......................................................................... 132 Potable Water and Water Storage ..................................................................................... 132 Quality of Housing ............................................................................................................ 1 33 Electrical Service ............................................................................................................... 135 Food Consumption at Alejandro de Humboldt ................................................................ 137 First Aid and Health Conditions ....................................................................................... 138 Crop Production at Alejandro de Humboldt ............................................................................ 138 Livestock Production at Alejandro de Humboldt .................................................................... 144 Conflict with Technicians ......................................................................................................... 148 Tools and Equipment ................................................................................................................ 150 Government Funding and Credit .............................................................................................. 154 Cooperative Member Scholarships and Advances .................................................................. 158 Summary .................................................................................................................................... 160 CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................................. 185 Land Inequality .......................................................................................................................... 186 Problems of Cooperative Membership .................................................................................... 187 Improvement of Living Standards ........................................................................................... 189 Availability of Credit ................................................................................................................ 190 Conflict between Members, Production Units and Technicians ............................................ 191 The Fear of Expropriation ........................................................................................................ 192 Ideas for the Improvement of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt ....................... 193 Further Research ....................................................................................................................... 194 ADDITIONAL DOC UMENTS ....................................................................................................... 197 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................................................................................................. 205 Interviews .................................................................................................................................. 205 Primary Sources ........................................................................................................................ 206 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................................................................................... 218


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 1990s Land Gini ..................................................................................................................... 28 1 2 Venezuela Agricultural Lands and Use 19511997 (Surface in 1,000 Has) .................... 28 2 1 Population Distribution of Venezuela (19102000) ............................................................. 61 2 2 Units of Production by Size (19611997) ............................................................................. 61 2 3 Fertilizer Use in Latin America (Kg / Ha) (1949 1973) ...................................................... 61 2 4 Tractors per 1,000 Hectares in Latin America (19501974) ............................................... 62 2 5 Production Unit Survey Twenty or Less Hectares (19611997) .................................... 62 2 6 Profile of Poverty, Share of Total Individuals by Locale (19751997) .............................. 62 2 7 Production Yields of Various Crops (Kg/Ha) ...................................................................... 63 2 8 Surface Harvested and Value of Production During the 1960 Agrarian Reform ............... 63 3 1 Classification of Land According to Use ............................................................................ 103 3 2 Fundos Zamoranos by State 2007 ..................................................................................... 103 3 3 Total Land Regularizations by Year (20032007) ............................................................. 104 3 4 Land Regularization by Process (20032007) .................................................................... 104 3 5 Cooperative Associations by Economic Activity (1997, 2001, 2005) .............................. 104 3 6 Average Number of Associates by Year (1997, 2001, 2005) ............................................ 105 3 7 Production in Venezuela 20002005 ................................................................................ 105 4 1 Interviews to Cooperative Members at Alejandro de Humboldt 2008 .......................... 162 4 2 Original Production Units, Hectares and Current Status ................................................... 163 4 3 Production Units and Status 2008..................................................................................... 163 4 4 Summary of Production Unit Membership Counts (20052008) ...................................... 164 4 5 Alejandro de Humboldt Membership Count July 2007 ................................................ 165 4 6 Alejandro de Humboldt Membership Count March 2008 ............................................ 165


8 4 7 Surface Utility 2008........................................................................................................... 166 4 8 Type of Terrains at Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt ......................................... 166 4 9 Land Typology ..................................................................................................................... 166 4 10 Production Units, their Conditions, and Requests to the Government ............................. 167 4 11 Lunch Daily Meal Recording 2008 ................................................................................ 167 4 1 2 Cooperative Production Plans 20052006 ........................................................................ 168 4 13 20052006 Production Plan Total Crop Cycle ................................................................. 168 4 14 Agricultural Production January 2007.............................................................................. 169 4 16 Dual Purpose Cattle Approved Financing July 2007 .................................................... 170 4 17 Animal Production at Alejandro de Humboldt December 2007 ..................................... 170 4 18 Inventory Survey December 2007 .................................................................................... 170 4 19 Existing Equipment December 2007 ................................................................................ 171 4 20 Equipment Needed December 2007 ................................................................................. 171 4 21 Financing and Investments July 2007 .............................................................................. 171


9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 Venezuelas Landcover Classification .................................................................................. 29 4 1 Political Map of the State of Monagas, Venezuela ........................................................... 172 4 2 Organization of Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt ............................................. 172 4 3 Government Technicians. .................................................................................................... 173 4 4 Average Rain Fall. ............................................................................................................... 173 4 5 A truck being rescued by a tractor after getting stuck in the mud .................................... 174 4 6 The government working on road construction from Curiepe to the Fundo .................... 174 4 7 A morichal and river at the edge of the fundo .................................................................... 175 4 8 Inner fundo landscape and roads ......................................................................................... 175 4 9 La Carcajada a wind operated pump, and an Australian tank being upgra ded ............... 176 4 10 The Australian tank at Labradores de la Patria .................................................................. 176 4 11 Hidropnica Maturn their zinc house, and a block house under construction in the background ........................................................................................................................... 177 4 12 La Carcajadas block house under construction ................................................................. 177 4 13 A worker cleaning a criolla chicken for a meal .................................................................. 178 4 14 An armadillo hunted that evening ....................................................................................... 178 4 15 Remains of the failed peanut crop ....................................................................................... 179 4 16 Machinery left behind utilized for harvesting peanuts .................................................... 179 4 17 Pipes obtained from an oil rig used to create cattle fences ................................................ 180 4 18 The first calf brought to La Carcajada ................................................................................ 180 4 19 A group of piglets born that day at Lanceros Productivos ................................................ 181 4 20 Pig pen at Lanceros Productivos, including the Padrote ................................................... 181 4 21 Egg laying chickens at Hidropnica Maturn ..................................................................... 182


10 4 22 Eggs collected at Hidropnica Maturn .............................................................................. 182 4 23 Chickens grown for personal consumption at Domingo Blas Poito ................................. 183 4 24 Ducks at La Carcajada ......................................................................................................... 183 4 25 Abandoned Passion Fruit Trellises ...................................................................................... 184 4 26 Pineapple Field ..................................................................................................................... 184


11 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S ACI Cooperative International Alliance AD Democratic Action BANMUJER Bank for the Development of Women BAP Agricultural and Livestock Bank BAV Agricultural Bank of Venezuela CDI Comprehensive Diagnostic Centers CECOSESOLA Central Cooperative for Social Services of Lara CENDES Center of Development Studies CIARA Institute of Training and Innovation to Support the Agrarian Revolution CLOC Latin American Coordinator of Rural Organizations COPEI Social Christ ian Party of Venezuela CVA The Venezuelan Agrarian Corporation CVG Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana EPS Enterprises of Socialist Production FAO Food and Agriculture Organization FODAS Fund for the Agrarian Socialist Development FONDAFA Fund for the Development of Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Related FONDEMI Micro -credit Development Bank GDP Gross Domestic Product GMO Genetically Modified Organisms ICAP Institute of Agricultural and Pecuarian Credit INCES National Institute of Socia list Training and Education INDER National Institute of Rural Development


12 INIA National Institute for Agricultural Investigations INTI National Institute of Land ISI Import Substitution Industrialization ITMCO Iranian Tractor Manufacturing Company LAN National Agrarian Institute MINEP Ministry of Popular Economy MPPAT Popular Ministry of Agriculture and Land MST Brazilian Landless Workers Movement NDE Nuclei of Endogenous Development OPEC Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries SUNACOOP Venezuelan National Cooperative Superintendence UCV Central University of Venezuela URD Republican Democratic Union ZEDES Special Zones of Sustainable Development


13 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Flor ida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master in Arts AGRARIAN REFORM IN VENEZUELA: CASE STUDY OF A FUNDO ZAMORANO IN THE STATE OF MONAGAS By Alfonso Jos Sintjago Cordova August 2009 Chair: Carmen Diana Deere Major: Latin American s tudies After previous unsuccessfu l attempts in bringing about agrarian reform, the current Venezuelan administration is attempting to improve the conditions of the campesino through the expropriation of large idle land holdings and the ir re distribution to landless peasant s Through the agrarian reform the government of Hugo Chvez is also attempting to reduce its food import dependence. In 2005, Venezuela import ed over 70% of their food stuffs while having the smallest agricultural sector in Latin America 6 % of the ir G ross D omestic P roduct. In an attempt to meet this goal and improve the living conditions of the rural poor, the government has implemented a number of initiatives to bring about land redistribution and rural development known as misiones (missions) This study reviews the history of agrarian reform in Venezuela and describes the current agrarian reform of the government of Hugo Chvez and its achievements and limitations. It pre sents a case study of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt in the state of Monagas, one of 85 Fundo Zamoranos nationally. Drawing on participant observation, interviews, and government data, the thesis analyzes the achievements and difficulties faced b y the cooperatives which constitute the fundo, and evaluate s the sustainability of the project. T he study of the


14 F undo Al ejandro de Humboldt provides insight into the larger changes taking place in the Venezuelan countryside. From 2003 to 2008, the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt continuously increased its agricultural production. The greatest difficulties faced by the fundo originated in the lack of communication and coordination between the government and agricultural production units, and the conti nuously decreasing number of members per cooperative. At the time of this study the fundo was not yet sustainable requiring continuous technical and financial assistance.


15 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Objectives and Organization A prevalent theme in the 1960s, agrarian reform is back on the agenda, led by leftist governments in South America. Progressive governments in Venezuela and Bolivia, among others, are carrying out policies aimed at improving the living conditions of the campesino or small farmer. In addition, national, hemispheric and international social movements including La Va Campesina, the Latin American Coordinator of Rural Organizations [CLOC], the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Sem Terra) [MST], and others are promoting food sov ereignty, a redistribution of land, improved access to credit and markets, and integral rural development policies They are gaining ground and supporters in Latin America. Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez and the major rural social movements have signed agreements on agricultural technical cooperation and met in the World Social Forum to discuss solutions to the current ec onomic crisis (ALAI, 2009; Torrez, 2006) After a limited agrarian reform (1960 2001) Venezuela is currently attempting a more comprehensive set of measures that is hoped will bring a lasting improvement in the socioeconomic conditions of the campesino Entering office as the result of deteriorating social conditions, growing income inequalities, and the dissatisfaction of the population with the previous political system, Hugo Chvez has promoted a number of social reforms to improve conditions and incr ease the opportunities for the masses to escape from poverty and unsatisfactory living conditions. In order to reduce rural inequality, the Venezuelan government has emphasized the redistribution of idle and unproductive land, particularly high quality la nds concentrated in the hands of a few owners and not meeting productivity standards. Through expropriation and


16 redistribution, the government is attempting to reduce the latifundio / minifundia dichotomy. After recuperating illegally obtained state lands and expropriating unproductive lands, the government is distributing millions of hectares to campesinos and organizing agricultural production cooperatives. Among the major objectives of the agrarian reform are the elimination of the latifundio, increased food production and decreased dependence on agricultural imports. In 2001, President Hugo Chvez promoted the enactment of 49 laws to transform Venezuelan society en route towards achieving the sociali sm of the twenty first century. Among them, the gove rnment passed the 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development, intended to promote an agrarian revolution (Woods, 2005) This law reorganized the agrarian ministry, the Popular Ministry of Agriculture and Land [MPPAT] and created three different institutio ns to redistribute and develop the agrarian sector; the National Institute of Land [INTI], the National Institute of Rural Development [INDER], and the Venezuelan Agrarian Corporation [CVA], which collectively focus on distributing land, developing rural i nfrastructure, and providing technical assistance to the campesino. The 2001 law was modified and strengthened in 2005 to better meet the objectives of the administration. Another important legislative change in Venezuela was the implementation of the 2001 Special Law of Cooperative Associations. Through Misin Vuelvan Caras and the Venezuelan National Cooperative Superintendence [SUNACOOP], the government is attempting to move away from an individualistic and profit oriented form of production and encourage the creation of cooperative and collective forms of production. My research in Venezuela focused on a Fundo Zamorano, or a conglomerate of primarily cooperative production units organized by the government to increase agricultural production. I carried o ut a brief case study of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt in


17 Monagas, Maturn to experience firsthand the changes taking place as a result of the Venezuelan agrarian reform. This thesis analyses the current agrarian situation in Venezuela and how t he changes introduced by the Chvez administration have affected the state of Monagas and, in particular, the members of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. Through participant observation I observed the changes taking place in rural Monagas. The obj ective of this thesis is to evaluate the success, failures and difficulties faced by the cooperative members in the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt as a result of the agrarian reform. While every Fundo Zamorano and region of the country is different, this study provides a glimpse of what may be taking place in the other 85 Fundos Zamoranos across Venezuela. Focusing on the Fundo Alejandro the Humboldt, this study examines the organization of the cooperatives and some of the problems these are experienc ing. T his thesis also hopes to provide an understanding of Venezuelan agrarian history and what motivated a new agrarian reform and to evaluate both government efforts to redistribute land and the efficacy of the agencies and organizations in charge of br inging about this redistribution. Why Agrarian Reform? Since the consolidation of the first human civilizations and the development of agriculture access to land has enabled individuals to support their families and allowed societies to provide food for an ever increasing number of people. However, as societies became more stratified, the higher social classes, who often controlled the administration of force, were able to compel the slaves, serfs, or the lowest social classes to accept arrangements by wh ich the upper classes benefited from the labor and production of the peasants. This basic societal structure remains prevalent and influential in modern societies particularly in highly unequal societies La tin


18 America, a region with a history of extreme land inequality (Engerman and Sokoloff, 1997), remains one of the most unequal areas of the world to this day (Gwynne and Kay, 1999; Franko, 2007) Using 19501994 FAO census data and the ir own calculations, Deininger and Olinto (2002) found the highest regional average for land inequality to be for Latin America .1 Latin America had a Gini coefficient of 0.81, in comparison to a world average of 0.64. As shown in Table 1 1, Gini land values for the 1990s continue to display a high level of inequality .2 In a survey of 74 countries, South America had an average Gini land value of 0.83, while North and Central America had the seco nd highest level of inequality with a Gini land value of 0.76.3 In contrast, Africa s Gini land value was 0.54, while that of Asia was 0.53. This high ratio of land concentration is noticeable throughout the Americas. Despite being a developed country, the United States is not an exception with a Gini land value of .74 (FAO, 2009) Agr arian reforms, whether promoted through a socialist or communist revolution or enacted by capitalist countries, emphasize the need to bring about a more equal distribution of land. By distributing land, agrarian reforms attempt to take advantage of the higher labor productivity ratio of smaller farm units (Rosset, 1999) as well as appeasing the lowest social classes, limiting the likelihood that they turn to extreme or violent tactics in the future. The dissatisfaction of the lower classes as a result of la nd inequality aided in the success of the Mexican Revolution (1910), the Bolshevik Revolution (1918), as well as in the triumph of Communist China (1949). It lent support for the Communists in No rth Vietnam (1945) and 1 T he Gini index measures the degree of inequality. T he value of 1 indicates perfect inequality and the value of 0 indicates perfect equality 2 All tables may be found at the end of the chapters 3 Recent FAO Gini land values can be found at:


19 contributed to the victory of Fidel Ca stro over Batista in Cuba (1959). These socialist or progressive revolutions attempted to bring a final resolution to the class struggle witnessed throughout history between rural social classes. By taking control o f the means of production, the socialis t reforms intended to redu ce inequality and bring about collective economic prosperity. In addition, the reforms emphasized the need for food self -sufficiency, providing basic food st aples for all of the population. With their origins in social revolutions these agrarian reforms have traditionally been more far reaching than others The Mexican (19101917), Cuban (1959 to today), and Bolivian (19521956) agr arian reform s are often cited as having had the greatest impact in Latin America in reducing inequality and successfully re distributing land among a large number of campesinos. The Mexican revolution distributed over 50.9 million hectares to over 4 million households. The Bolivian agrarian reform benefited three quarters of agricultura l households and distributed four fifths of the farmland and the Cuban agrarian reform tripled the number of small property owners and brought over half of the farmland into state hands ( Thiesenhusen,1989; Gwynne and Kay, 1999; Deere and Le n, 2001) Fa cing a Cold War against the USSR and fearing the spread of communism, the United States was cautious of the popularity of socialist or progressive movements in Latin America. Concerned about losing control of another country in their backyard John F. Ke nnedy promoted the introduction of agrarian reform policies in Latin America to curb the wave of support for communist overthrow s of governments friendly to the United States (Schoultz, 1998) Under t he Alliance for Progress, seventeen different Latin American countries promoted agrarian reform policies with the encouragement of the United States.


20 While the main premise of the reforms enacted under Alliance for Progress was to prevent a socialist revolution, they also helped to strengthen capitalism in the region by raising peasant income and increasing the purchasing power of the campesinos. Seen as constructive for economic growth and the strengthening of democracy and capitalism, the United States had previously promoted agrarian reforms in Japan (1945), South Korea (1945), and Taiwan (1950). Similar reforms were promoted in Latin America. Unfortunately, these reforms were less successful in reducing inequality than the reforms implemented in Asia (Thiesenhusen 1989; Soto 20 06). A major reason for the limited success of reforms in Latin America was due to the influence of the landed class or terratenientes in the Latin American legislatures. As a result, some of these reforms were minimalist in scope, focusing primarily in obtaining foreign funding and keeping the campesinos at bay (Thiesenhusen; 1995). In Costa Rica, the government shied away from the expropriation of land and focused on colonization. In other countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Honduras, the go vernment focused primarily on the distribution of state lands (Deere and Le n, 2001). Under the Import Substitution Industrialization [ ISI ] development model, these reforms promoted the transfer of resources for the development of industries in the urban s ector and had a limited emphasis on reinvestment in the agrarian sector. In addition, most governments purchased the land they expropriated from private land owners, and at times even paid landowners in excess of its value who often exaggerated the extent of their landholdings by claiming state lands (Aldana, 1980) Some of these reforms, particularly in Chile and Peru, were more successful than the majority. Chile, under the administration of Eduardo Frei (19641970) and Salva dor Allende (19701973), and Peru under General Velasco Alvarado (1968 1975) expropriated a large percentage of latifundios and applied their agrarian reform laws more thoroughly than other countries Allendes redistribution


21 policies and progressive socia l programs would act as a catalyst for his eventual overthrow and death in 1973 (Valenzuela, 1978) In the 1980s, agrarian reforms were enacted in the war torn states of Nicaragua and El Salvador. The Nicaraguan reform under the Sandinista revol utionary government (19791990) obtained moderate results, yet many of its achievements were lost when the Sandinistas were removed from office. With the debt crisis and subsequent promotion of neoliberal policies by the United States a nd the international financial agencies Latin American countries let agrarian reform slide ever further down their list of priorities, and the topic was largely relegated to footnotes in history books during the 1990s. However, in recent years, agrarian r eform is once again back on the agenda. As shown in Table 1 1, the degree of land inequality continues to be very high in the region. Along with the election of leftist leaders in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, Latin A merica has increasingly moved away from neo liberal policies and towards the introduction of social reforms to reduce the high level of inequality prevalent throughout the region. In recent years Venezuela and Bolivia have instituted policies to reform lan d tenure and diminish land inequality. In Brazil, the MST has an estimated 1.5 million members in 23 out of 27 states and has settled 350,000 families in 2,000 settlements (MST, 2009) These recent changes have attracted renewe d interest in the topic of agrarian reform in the region, how it relates to previous reform efforts, and to what extent it is reducing land inequality. This thesis focuses on the current agrarian reform taking place in Venezuela. While this study is primar ily descriptive, it can provide a basis for assessing how this reform fits into the history of agrarian reform in Latin America, and in particular, how the Fundos Zamoranos are improving the life of the campesino.


22 Rural Venezuela and the Marginalization of the Peasant According to Engerman and Sokoloff (1997), the institutions and the class structure developed by the Spanish in Latin America, led to the creation of an extremely unequal society, based on highly concentrated landholdings. The vastly unequal d istribution of wealth, political power and human capital established under the colonial system was maintained by most Latin American countries, including Venezuela, after they obtained independence. L and has been obtained primarily through favors, clientel ism, and conquest. Like other Latin American countries, Venezuela has been characterized by high levels of land inequality throughout its history. Since colonial times, the Spanish Crown, the class structure and the colonial system favo red the establishmen t of large landed estates controlled by a privileged few. From the time of the Spanish conquest to the current Venezuelan administration, the struggle for the improvement of the life of the campesino has been linked directly linked to major historical even ts. During the War of Independence (1811 1823), the promise of land and financial rewards to those who served in the armed forces persuaded campesinos to support the revolution. Over thirty years later, the unequal distribution of land was a major reason behind the outbreak of the Gue rra Federal (1859 1863) or civil war, which erupted between the liberals and conservatives and resulted in the death of over a hundred thousand people. Despite the promises of various governments since the War of Independence it was not until 1960 that an agrarian reform was finally implemented in Venezuela. Previous attempts at agrarian reform had been frustrated by caudillos (1863) unexpecte d transfers of executive power (1945 and 1948) an d a shift towards colonization (1 949) In 1960, the distribution of land in Venezuela remained highly unequal, with a Gini coefficient of 0.91, greater than for other Latin American countries (Soto, 2006)


23 The 1960 Law of Agrarian Reform was enacted under the democratically elected gover nment of Romulo Betancourt (19581964), following the success of the Cuban revolution and the urging of the Alliance for Progress. It also represented a long expected reform advocated by different democratic leaders over the course of a decade. The Agraria n Reform Law of 1960, written with the support of all major political parties, attempted to bring about a change in the exploitative conditions experienced by the Venezuelan campesino. The reform advocated the end of the latifundio and the development of t he agricultural and rural sector through the provision of credit and government assistance. The implementation of the law led to the expropriation of latifundios and the growth of the medium -sized producer (Soto, 2006) However, despite government efforts to redistribute land to campesinos, in 1998 Venezuelas Gini land value remained large at 0.88 (World Bank, 1998) Aldana (1980) argues that the limited impact of the reform in reducing inequality was the result of the reforms emphasis on help ing the medium size capitalist owner rather than the campesino. T he 1960 Law resulted in the acquisition of 2,320,756 hectares of private land through purchase or expropriation. According to a government report, by 1978, 150,000 families had obtained property titles to this land from the government (Soto, 2006). B y 1980, the pace of redistribution had slowed substantially (Aldana, 1980). In 1989, the government implemented neoliberal policies leading to a reduction of state investment in the rural sector, the flattening of agricultural production growth, and the trans formation of Venezuela into an agricultura de puertos (port agriculture), or an economy reliant on an overvalued currency and the import of food and agricultural inputs (Soto, 2006). By the 1990s, the lofty goals of the 1960 agrarian reform were forgotten and rural poverty was increasing. Inequality in urban and rural areas was sharply on the rise and the minifundio


24 and latifundio continued to be widespread. A fter decades of corruption and mismanagement (19581998), the pacted democratic system of Venezuela was utterly discredited. In 1998, Hugo Rafael Chvez Fras was elected on the promise of addressing declining social conditions. In 2001, President Hugo Chvez enacted by decree 49 laws, dealing with topics ranging from a Law of Hydrocarbons, a Law of Coastal Zones, a Law of Identification and a Law of Cooperatives. These laws were criticized and feared by the opposition to the gove rnment. One of the most controversial measures in the package was the Law of Land and Agrarian Development of 2001. Through this law the government announced its intention to redistribute land and promote agrarian self -sufficiency to a greater extent than the Law of Agrarian Reform of 1960. The 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development and the 2001 Special Law of Cooperative Associations were the focus of my fieldwork in Venezuela. Nationally, by 2008, the implementation of the Law of Land and Agrarian Dev elopment had led to the distribution of 4,624,420 hectares and 105,922 documents of production rights (MPPAT, 2008) T he government promoted the distribution of land and credit to cooperatives. Agrarian cooperatives, which con stituted only 8 % of cooperative associations in 1997, accounted for 30% of all such organizations by 2005 (Rojas, 2006) Through a study of the history of agrarian reform, Venezuelan social conditions, and cooperatives I framed my questions in order to analyze the conditions, problems, strengths, and parallels between the current reforms and those attempted by previous administrations. Living in a Fundo Zamorano with a group of recently consolidated agrarian cooperatives, I observed the effects these laws have had on the campesino Geography and Land in Venezuela As shown in Table 1 2, Venezuela is estimated to have over 17 million of hectares of pasture lands. Soil studies show that the country has a limited amount of soil with real agricultural potential (Soto, 2006). Less than three million hectares are suitable for farming and


25 only 575,000 hectares are irrigated. According to Soto (2006), 18% of the total land suffers from drainage problems, 32 % from low fertility levels, and 44 % from excessive reliefs a nd broken topography Venezuela has a total surface area of 88,205,000 hectares, of which 54% are covered by forest. Most of these forest areas are protected but, even so, between 1990 and 2000 Venezuela lost an average of 287,500 hectares of forest a yea r (Mongabay, 2008) Deforestation and colonization has led to an increase in the lands available for agricultural production in the country over the last two decades. Like other reforms introduced during the Alliance for Progress, the 1960 Agrarian Reform law extended the agricultural frontier through colonization. As displayed in Figure 1 1, soil conditions and land use in Venezuela vary greatly according to the region The diverse topography of the Venezuelan landscape influences the type of production an d the expected agricultural yield in different areas of the country. As a result, it is difficult to generalize what constitutes a minifundio, a medium -size, or large production unit or latifundio according to their size in hectares. This study refers to a small farm or minifundios those with 20 hectares or less, a medium -size production unit as between 20 and 1000 hectares, and a large production unit as any unit over 1000 hectares.4 Studying the 1960 reform, Delahaye (2001) suggested the need for a regio nalization of development projects in administrating future agrarian initiatives. It is difficult to assess the degree of regionalization of the current agrarian reform. In an attempt to take into account different contexts, the 2001 Law of Land and Agrari an Development has classified land and 4 This study utilizes the same categorization of agricultural producers by hectares as Soto (2006) who considers a small farmer as anyone producing on land units smaller than 20 hectares. Medium units are those between 20 and 1000 hectares, and large units consist of those over 1000 hectares. Another prominent study of agrarian conditions in Venezuela, Delayahe (2001), defined small agricultural units as those under 50 hectares, medium units as those between 50 and 1000 hectares, and large units as any landholding over 1000 hectares. These unit sizes are arbitrary since agricultural production is highly related to land productivity. Despite their different organization, both of these major studies came to similar conclusions regarding the 1960 agrarian reform Sotos classifications are utilized for simplicity.


26 determined what constitutes a latifundio according to the topography and expected productivity of the soil. The Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt, the case study presented here, is located in the southern part of t he state of Monagas, an area traditionally characterized by cattle grazing. A latifundio in southern Monagas is considered as any production unit over 5,000 hectares. The fundo I visited was composed of land of the old hato La Argentina which consisted of over 5,213 hectares.5 The development plans of a particular fundo are linked to its topography. When reading my case study, it is important to be aware of the topographical characteristics of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt and the regional differ ences in agricultural production throughout Venezuela. Organization of the Thesis This chapter present ed a brief overview of the reasons for the introduction of the 2001 agr arian refo rm the geography of Venezuela, and the main questions and hypothesis of the thesis. Chapter 2 considers the history of land ownership and distribution in Venezuela. It also reviews the history of previous agrarian reform efforts in the country, as well as of cooperatives. It concludes with an outline of the general economic s ituation leading up to the election of Chvez. Chapter 3 analyzes the current agrarian reform, including its legal framework, the agencies and administration of the reform, and the structure of the Fundos Zamoranos. Other rural development programs are als o discussed to arrive at a broad picture of the achievements of the reform and the cooperative movement. In addition, attention is g iven to the current food crisis and rural violence. Chapter 4 presents the case study of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Hum boldt, including its history, organization, production, membership issues, problems and 5 Hatos are primarily cattle production units, while haciendas are primarily crop production units.


27 achievements. Chapter 5 concludes the study with an analysis of the impact of the Fundos Zamoranos on rural development.


28 Table 1 1 1990s Land Gini Continents Gini Index of Concentration Africa 0.53 North and Central America 0.76 South America 0.82 Asia 0.56 Europe 0.58 Oceania 0.70 Source: FAO ( 2009 ) Table 1 2 Venezuela Agricultural Lands and Use 1951 1997 (Surface in 1,000 Has) Type of Use 1951 1961 1971 1984 1997 Annual and Semi Permanent Crops 709 1,018 1,057 N.A. 1,375* Permanent Crops 593 652 675 N.A. 962** Total Crops 1,302 1,670 1,732 2,719 2,337 Cultivated Pasture 1,639 2,760 4,904 5,013 N.A. Natural Pasture 11,862 13,850 11,995 9,169 N.A. Total Pasture 13,501 16,610 16,899 14,182 17,709 Forest, Woods, etc 7,324 7,725 7,839 14,377 10,018 Total 22,127 26,005 26,470 31,278 30,064 Note: *Only Annual / **Permanent and Semi P ermanent / N.A. = not available; Source: Albano and Rodriguez ( 2003)


29 Figure 1 1 Venezuelas Landcover Classification ; Source: USDA (2005)


30 CHAPTER 2 LAND AND AGRICULTURE IN VENEZUELAN DEVELOPME NT Chapter Objectives The objectives of this chapter are to provide a brief overview of the Venezuelan agrarian history from the colonial era until the election of President Hugo Chvez in 1998. It highlights events that encouraged modi fications to the unequal structure of landownership and policies that attempted to improve the living conditions of the campesino, and how these early initiatives were frustrated. The 1960 agrarian reform moved Venezuelas agricultural production away from an hacienda dominated landscape and encouraged the growth of the medium -size capitalist producer. For the campesino, the initially promising agrarian reform brought about some significant improvements in living conditions, yet failed to reduce the prevale nce of the minifundio. In addition, many of the achievements of the 1960 agrarian reform were lost after the implementation of neoliberal policies in 1989. Particularly after 1989, Venezuela experienced a rise in rural poverty, a stagna t ion of agricultura l production, and an increased reliance on food imports History of Land Ownership in Venezuela The history of private land ownership in Venezuela begins with arrival of the Spanish in the New World and the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, when Spain and Por tugal divided the lands of the New World between themselves without regard for the Native American populations. Like other Latin American countries, Venezuela was inhabited by different groups of Native Americans. The Betoyes in the current state of Lara a nd Falcon, the Araucos around the state of Miranda, Anzotegui and Sucre, the Tomotocuicas in the Andes and the Caribes across the coast and the shores of the Orinoco River, were among the major groups of indigenous peoples


31 displaced from their lands by the Spanish and exploited under the encomienda and repartimiento system (Muoz, 1975) The encomienda system left the Native Americans under the tutelage of the Spanish colonists. Encomenderos wer e awarded the right to use the native labor force who resided on large extensions of land. They were also required to Christianize the native population. The encomienda gave usufruct rights of the land to the owner, but the lands remained property of the S panish crown. Similarly, through the repartimiento, colonists were given authority over a group of i ndians who were required to perform low or unpaid labor for a certain number of weeks or months each year in nearby Spanish settlements (Caballos, 1997) Despite the eventual condemnation and dismantling of these labor systems, the repartimiento and the encomienda left behind the concentration of land in the hands of a small number of owners (Guerrero, 1 962) This unequal system of land distribution negatively affected the economic growth and development of the region (Engerman and Sokoloff, 1997). Originally, land in Venezuela was granted to nobles, conquistadores and financiers who had provided credit to the Spanish crown. According to a royal edict in 1513, land was granted in proportion to the quality of the individual. An individuals quality was primarily related to his political connections, name, social class and wealth (Guerrero, 1962) Perez de Tolosa, acting for the Crown, was the first to distribute lands in Venezuela in the middle of the sixteen th century. Individuals were not awarded property titles but rather titles of possession, under which they were requi red to place the lands into production (Muoz, 1975). As good land became scarce, the sale and purchase of land became more common. Land value was related to its distance from a shipping port, its quality, and the availability of slaves and Indian laborers Under the mercantilist system, like other countries in Latin America, Venezuelas agricultural


32 production consisted largely of raw materials, primarily coffee, cacao, cotton and ail, and their export to Spain. Venezuela was food self -sufficient, even ex porting a small number of animals to the Caribbean (Muoz, 1975; Salcedo-Bastardo, 1996) The War of Independence did little to change t he land structure in Venezuela. Most of the original signatories of the Declaration of Independence on July 5, 1811 were members of t he upper class and wealthy land owners Financially handicapped by the mercantilist system, the colonial elite wanted to free themselves from the trade regulations set by the Spanish, whilst maintaining the class structure (Salcedo -Bastardo, 1996) The First Republic of Venezue la lasted from July 5, 1811 to July 25, 1812, when the independent government capitulated to the Spanish Royalist Domingo Monteverde who had successfully managed to appeal to the lower classes. The revolutionaries initial inability to obtain the support of the campesinos would also hasten the demise of the Second Republic (18131814), as the independence forces were defeated on separ ate occasions by a campesino Royalist leader Jos Toms Boves. Boves rallied the campesinos on the side of the Spanish crown by promising them the spoils of war and the lands of the defeated. He amassed a large army of mulatto lanceros, or cavalry soldiers with which he brought about the collapse of the Second Venezuelan Republic. Jos Toms Boves mobilized the campesinos against the revolutionaries, defeating the independence leaders at the Battle of La Puerta as well as capturing Valencia and Caracas. Af ter his death in the Battle of Urica in Maturn the campesinos disbanded. Even though he died in 1814, his military achievements against the independence movement turned the tide of the war in favor of the Spanish crown until 1821 when those same campesin os that fought under Boves switch ed alliances and f ou ght under the command of Jos Antonio Pez in support of the revolutionary movement. Pez spearheaded the defeat of the Spanish at the Battle of Carabobo


33 (Muoz, 1975) Prom ising to expropriate and redistribute the lands of the great latifundio owners, he successfully recruited campesinos to fight in favor of the independence movement (Guerrero, 1962) Following Pezs promise to the campesinos, S imn Bolvar decreed on September 3, 1817 that the lands taken away from the Spanish were to be permanently expropriated unless the owners could prove legal titles to the land and their allegiance to the independence movement (Muoz, 1975; Soto, 2003; Salc edo Bastardo, 1996) In a decree published on October 10, 1817, Bolvar set a table of rewards for those fighting in the independence revolution. A General in Chief would receive Bs $25,000, a General of Division Bs $20,000, and the earnings would decrease according to military level (to where a Colonel would earn Bs $10,000, a captain Bs $6,000, and a basic soldier would receive only Bs $500). Aside from financial rewards, revolutionaries were also granted land titles. At the end of the war most of the revolutionary soldiers received lands from the government. Many of these soldiers later sold their lands to wealthier individuals diminishing the redistributive effect of the independence movement. After achieving independence, the domestic elite retained the hierarchical structure of the colonial society. Bolvar created a free and independent republic, yet the class structure remained mostly unaffected. During the first years of the young republic, former military independence leaders increased their land ho ldings, transforming themselves into a new aristocracy. The lands confiscated from the Spanish land owners were awarded to a handful of high ranking soldiers and military officials. The highest tier of military officers received large land holdings and joined the new aristocratic class composed of the criollo elite. Venezuelan presidents such as Jos Antonio Pez, Carlos Soublette, Jos Antonio Monagas and Jos Tadeo Monagas were the first to support the rigid class system and forget their promises to the campesinos (Guerrero, 1962)


34 Venezuelas first president, Jos Antonio P ez (17901873) is an example of the limited changes brought to the Venezuelan social structure by the independence movement. Pez, like Boves, commanded the lanceros from the Venezuelan plains. Without this group of campesino soldiers, the outcome of the independence war might have been very different. Born of humble origins and growing up as a farmer and cattle rancher, Pez was an avid horse rider and lancer himself. At the beginning of the war of independence, in 1810, he joined a cavalry regiment and became a career soldier. Winning var ious pivotal battles increased P ezs reputation, and he became known as the Centaur of the Plains (Salcedo -Bastar do, 1996) Bolvar named Pez General and Chief after winning the Battle of Carabobo. Later in life, Pez educated himself and became an aristocrat. He eventually broke politically with Bolivar and became the leader of a separatist movement. After the breakup of the Great Colombia, Pez would become the first Venezuelan president, serving from 18301835, 18391843, and 18611863. As president, Pez was the leader of the Conservative Party and one of the largest land owners in the country. Despite his poor origins, he did little to address the living conditi ons of the general population. From 1830 to 1847, Venezuela was controlled by the Conservative Oligarchy wh ich emphasized paying the foreign debt, increased immigration and colonization. They reinstitut ed slavery and returned a number of land holdings to their previous Spanish owners (Muoz, 1975) Despite a power sharing agreement, the conservatives would slowly consolidate power and drive the liberals out of office. This pr ovoked some liberals to rise in arms in opposition to the power grab by the conservatives. Ezequiel Zamora, a prominent liberal leader, argued in 1846 in favor of the distribution of land and respect for the campesino. In 1849, Zamora captured Pez and too k him in chains to Caracas.


35 From 1848 to 1858, Venezuela was controlled by the Liberal Oligarchy. The liberal leaders who advocated the end of slavery and the redistribution of land in their rhetoric implemented only moderat e reforms after being elected to office. While President Jos Gregorio Monagas (1851 to 1855) finally abolished slavery in 1853, he and his brother Jos Tadeo Monagas (President from 1847 1851, 1855 1858 and 1868) also started a tradition of awarding idle land to particular individ uals, including family and friends, and as political payments. By 1858, the brothers had transformed themselv es into two of the largest land owners in Venezuela. The struggle for power between the conservatives and liberals reached a climax in 1858 when Ju lian Castro, a member of the Conservative Party, rose up against the national government and forced the exile of Jos Tadeo Monagas, Ezequiel Zamora and other liberal leaders, sparking a civil war between the Liberals, or Federalists, and the Conservatives or Godos. While the cause of the campesino was led by the Liberal Party, in actions, both political parties were similar. In 1859, Ezequiel Zamora returned to Venezuela t o lead the federalist movement. In a guerrilla war, Zamora practiced scorched earth tactics against conservative supporters. With the exception of the Battle of Santa Ines, the Battle of San Carlos and the Battle of Cople, most of the battles of the Federal War amounted to guerrilla skirmishes. Rallying people under slogans such as Tremb le Oligarchs, Land and Free Men, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, Zamora remains the moral leader of the Federal War to this day. Supporters of agrarian reform policies have wondered about how events would have unfolded had he survived the war and be en able to pursue his agenda after the culmination of the conflict (Guerrero, 1962) However, although the Civil War lasted until 1863, following the early death of Zamora in 1860, the goals


36 of the revolution were forgotten and the conditions of the impoverished rural masses remained unchanged (Guevara, 2005) After the death of Ezequiel Zamora, the liberals were led to victor y by Juan Crisstomo Falcn who, serving as a liberal President from 186 3 to 1868, did not implement an agrarian reform, demonstrating that Pezs transformation from peasant to conservative caudillo was not unique. Once ag ain the promise of improvement in the lives of the campesinos turned out to be just empty words. During 1 829 to 1860, 96% of the adjudicated land favored ranked officers, to the point that six people obtained 49% of the land (Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1971) The next liberal caudillo also did little to improve the conditions of the campesino Antonio Guzmn Blanco (President from 18701877, 18791884 and 18861887) continued the system of reward towards his supporters pursued by Pez and Jos Tadeo Monagas. The military leaders represe nting the Liberal Party were financially rewarded for their services and granted large land holdings. Land grants to military officers included 500 hectares to Cipriano Flores, 700 to Pedro Manuel Rojas, and 905 to Francisco Oriach. In 1888, Guzmn Blanco took over the hacienda Chuao which, along with his other hacienda s, Guayabita and El Ingenio, remained primarily idle. Guzmn Blanco, Juan Vicente Gmez and other Venezuelan presidents from the Liberal Party would bring about the modernization of the country. However, the promises made to the campesinos remained forgotten (Guerrero, 1962) In 1937, shortly after the de ath of Juan Vicente Gmez, land ownership was so concentrated that the larger haciendas, with land holdings of 1,000 hectares or more, were held by only 4.8 % of the land owners, but constituted 88.8% of all agricultural lands (Wilpert, 2006) Presidents such as Antonio Guzman Blanco ( 18701887), Cipriano Castro (1899 1908), and Juan Vicente Gomez ( 19081935), among other powerful Venezuelan caudillos, would amass large


37 extensions of territory during their terms in office, perpetuating the spoils system used by their predecessors (Wilpert, 2005; Soto, 2006; Guerrero, 1962) Until the twentieth century Venezuela remai ned primarily agrarian, yet the discovery of oil during the presidency of Juan Vicente Gmez (19081935) rapidly changed the orientation of the Venezuelan economy. The discovery of oil brought about an increase in revenue to the central government and a re duced reliance on agricultural product ion Changing Demographics and Increased Oil Dependency Two of the most noticeable changes that took place in Venezuela during the 20th century were the restructuring of the Venezuelan economy and a swift rural to urba n migration. The discovery of oil in the first decade of the century permanently changed the Venezuelan economy (Ellner et al, 2003; Gott, 2005) displacing a griculture as the primary economic activity. The influx of oil revenues allowed for the purchase of cheap foodstuffs from abroad and the decline of the domestic agric ultural sector. Once the second largest producer of coffee in the world (19131914), twenty years la ter Venezuela had slipped to eighth place (Delahaye, 2001). Oil was discovered in Venezuela by the Venezuelan Development Group in 1909. During the go vernment of Juan Vicente Gomez ( 19081935) generous concessions were made to private companies (Guerrero, 1962) World War I and World War II increased the international demand for oil so and by the 1930s Venezuela was a major oil producer. Along with the Arab countries, Venezuela was a founding member of the Organization of Petrol eum Exporting Countries [OPEC] in 1960, and with them coordinated the regulation of world oil prices. Between 1920 and 1935 Venezuela experienced a rapid growth in the value of oil exports, increasing from Bs 3 million in 1920 to Bs 649 million in 1935, wh ile the value of agricultural production decreased from Bs 167 million in 1920 to Bs 62 million in 1935 (Guerrero, 1962) Oil quickly came to dominate the Venezuelan economy, accounting for the majority of export revenues, wher eas


38 agriculture continuously declined as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product [ GDP ] reaching its nadir in 1980 when it accounted for only 0.4% of the total value of merchandise exports (Gwynne and Kay, 1999) Increasing oil revenues and the development of infrastructure, services and opportunities in the cities motivated migration to urban centers among those seeking to improve their living conditions. As shown in Table 2 1 by 1960, only 35% of the population was rural (Ramach andran, 2006) Venezuelas rapid rate of urbanization strained government resources. Despite an increased investment in city services, Caracas was unable to provide services, training, and employment to the large number of uneducated rural migrants. As p easants fled to the cities, the result was the formation of enormous shanty towns, or barrios, on the outskirts of major urban areas, forming misery belts, and the persistence of poverty. Over the years, poverty worsened in Venezuela, affecting millions of individuals (Ellner et al, 2003; Gott, 2005; Guevara, 2005) As a result of the mismanagement of oil revenues, Venezuel a became a classic example of Dutch Disease. Oil money led to a growth in the service sector and the oil industry at the expense of ot her industries such as manufacturing. A n unsuccessful ISI model, clientelism and corruption limited development during the Fourth Republic (19581998) (McCoy and Myers, 2004) The i ncreasing dependency on the government, inefficient state run industries an d an aggressive rural urban migration provided a difficult challenge for different administrations (Faria, 2008) Reliance on oil and a dependency on food imports worsened in the 1990s through the implementation of neoliberal policies. 1960 Law of Agrarian Reform It was not until 1960 that a Venezuelan government seriously addressed the problem of land concentration. While the governments of Isaas Medina Angarita (1941 1945) and Rmulo


39 Gallegos (1948) passed agrarian laws, both of their governments ended prematurely, and before the laws were implemented. Unlike the laws of 1945 and 1948, the agrarian law of 1949 of President Marcos Prez Jimnez focused on colonization instead of expropriation and redistribution. The implementation of the law of 1949 was also limited, creating only 16 colonies in previously uncultivated land s, totaling approximately 56,000 hectares and composed primarily of foreign immigrants. It was only after the fall of Marcos Prez Jimnez in 1958, when the three major political parties signed the Pact of Punto Fijo, and Venezuela entered a forty year per iod of democracy (1958 to 1998) that a strong attempt w as made to solve the agrarian crisis. During the forty years of the Fourth Republic, the Social Christian Party of Venezuela [COPEI] and Democratic Action [AD] would control the government and lead an oil rich Venezuela into a strong period of ISI and development. By 1960 every political party expressed support for agrarian reform. On March 5, 1960, the leaders of the three major political parties who coauthored the Pact of Punto Fijo, including the Pr esident of Venezuela and leader of AD, Romulo Betancourt, the leader of COPEI, Rafael Caldera, and the leader of the Republican Democratic Union [URD], J vito Villalba, gathered on the hills where Venezuelan patriots and Spanish soldiers had fought the Bat tle of Carabobo in 1821 to enact the 1960 Law of Agrarian Reform. All three political leaders spoke eloquently on the subject. Remembering the words of Bolvar, Ezequiel Zamora and other national leaders who had favored of an agrarian redistribution, the government committed itself to improving rural conditions. To J vito Villalba the agrarian reform represented the payment of a long overdue debt to all of the campesinos. To achieve this end, the reform focused on integral rural development. Article 1 delineates the objectives of the 1960 Law of Agrarian Reform advocating:


40 the transformation of the agrarian structure of the country and the incorporation of its rural population to the economic, social and political development of the nation, through the subst itution of the latifundio system for a just system of property, tenancy, and exploitation of the land, based on the equitable distribution of the same, the adequate organization of credit and the integral assistance to rural producers with the end in which the land will constitute for the working man the base of his economic sustainability and the fundamental method of the social wellbeing, guaranty ing his dignity and liberty. (Trans lation of Article 1 by Author) Attempting to move away from the inefficient traditional latifundio structure, the reform promoted the growth of capitalist medium -size production units and the modernization of the agricultural sector, as well as distributing land, services and aid to landless campesinos in an effort to diminish rural poverty. The government expected to incr ease agricultural production. Among the mechanisms provided for by t he 1960 Venezuelan Law of Agrarian Reform were the purchase of land from land owners and preventing the resale of lan d adjudicated by the govern ment. The law awarded land on a gratuitous basis to landless campesinos, while charging a fee to medium -sized farmers. The 1960 reform was able to bring about major improvements in healthcare, education, distribution of land, and agricultural production in Venezuela. Results of the 1960 Agrarian Reform We are conscious of the contradictions, incongruences and lack of transparency in the official data regarding land tenancy values, which has generated a lack of credibility in the information. (Soto 2006: Pg 9 Translation by Author) While it is difficult to assess the exact impact of the 1960 Venezuelan agrarian reform it is generally argued that the reform distributed land to a large number of rural households, increased agricultural production, brought improvements in education, and increased access to medical services in the rural areas. Nonetheless, the reform failed to reduce the high level of concentration of land, and ended up benefiting primarily medium -size land owners. The total number of minifun dios had increased by the end of the agrarian reform (Delahaye, 2001;


41 Thiesenhusen, 1989; Soto 2006; Rosset 2005; Aldano; 1980). Additionally, Venezuela continued to be dependent on agricultural imports. Enacted in 1960, the A grarian Reform L aw was legally in force until 2001 when it was replaced by the Law of Lands and Agrarian Development. However, the most noticeable changes regarding land distribution were achieved during the 1960s and 1970s. After the 1970s, the reform shifted its focus towards improvi ng rural infrastructure. Between 1960 and 2001, the reform changed from promoting strong protectionist policies and an ISI development model, to the implementation of neoliberal policies focused on the reduction of trade barriers and the promotion of agric ultural exports (19891998) (Soto, 2006) According to Kay (2002), the implementation of neoliberal agrarian policies in various Latin American countries to a counter agrarian reform (Kay, 2002). Venezuela was not an exception The enactment of neo-liberal reforms after 1989 brought about a decline in the living conditions of the campesinos Over the years, the agrarian reform also experienced a reduction of pressure by beneficiaries and a decreased interest by the national government An exa mple of the loss of significance of the agrarian reform is perceptible in the diminishing number of requests for land acquisitions by campesinos to the National Agrarian Institute [ IAN ] The se requests dropped sharply, dropping from an annual average of 4, 654 from 1958 to 1973, to 1,867 from 1974 to 1978, to 986 from 1979 to 1982, to 910 from 1983 to 1989, to only 106 from 1990 to 1999 (Delahaye, 2001). Encompassing a long period of history (19602001), this section focuses on some of the accomplishments an d limitations of the 1960 agrarian reform .1 This overview attempts to provide the reader with a general understanding of the changes that took place under the previous 1 This overview takes into account the disparities in the data as reported by different Venezuelan sch olars.


42 agrarian reform and why agrarian reform returned to the political agenda during the Chv ez administration. This section focuses on the amount of land distributed by the 1960 agrarian reform ; the number of beneficiaries ; the change in size distribution of land; the increase in minifundios ; Gini land values before and after the agrarian reform ; access to credit ; the increased use of fertilizers and technology ; improvements in education and infrastructure in rural area; rural poverty variables ; the cooperative movement; and the development of a land market. The impact of the agrarian reform on agricultural production will be analyzed in a subsequent section. According to Soto (2006), Delahaye (2001), and Thiesenhusen (1989), the Venezuelan government redistributed millions of hectares of government owned or privately owned land to small and medium -size producers during the 1960 agrarian reform. Additionally, as a result of the agrarian reform, large quantities of lands were transferred to the state. From 1960 to 1998 the IAN incorporated 12,134,565 hectares to its land fund (out of 30,071,152 hecta res) making it the largest land owner. Of these hectares, 17% were of private origin, 2 % originated from ejidos (a communal type of organization) 15 % from national lands and 66% from tierras baldias, or idle lands and lands without a determined owner (Soto, 2006) The IAN adjudicated or awarded 8,316,372 hectares primarily to medium -size producers in an average allotment of 55.9 hectares. Setting aside units of production holding over 500 hectares, the average di stribution was 23 hectares per production unit (Soto, 2006) According t o Thiesenhusen (1989), the reform affected a smaller area of 5,118,700 hectares. According to Sotos analysis of the 1960 and 1997 agrarian censuses, colonization and the expansion of the frontier led to an increase in land available for production of 6,793,592 hectares.


43 According to Soto (2006), these lands were awarded primarily to family production units and salaried workers representing 57 % and 42% of total producers respectively by 1994. The reform benefited both landless peasant s who were awarded land gratuitously, and capitalist farmers, who were required to pay a fee (Article 64). While the reform distributed primarily state lands, the reform also affected private lands. Expropr iation of private lands diminished throughout the agrarian reform period from 2,320,028 hectares expropriated between 1958 and 1973, 395,756 hectares between 1974 and 1982, and 240,320 hectares between 1983 and 1989 (Delahaye, 2001).2 One of the goals of the reform was to reduce rural inequality by providing land to landless households. According to a government report in 1960, there were 350,000 potential beneficiary campesino households in Venezuela Through land distribution, education, and the developm ent of infrastructure, the reform attempted to improve the lives of the majority of this population. During its first years, the government implemented agrarian reform policies aggressively. Unfortunately, lack of clarity in the government statistics makes it difficult to assess how many families were affected by the reform. Depending on the study, the reform likely distributed lands to between a fourth and a third of the rural population. In one of the earlier studies, Aladana (1980) argued the reform had affected close to a third or 115,000 of the 350,000 potential beneficiary campesino households by the early 1970 s In his study analyzing different agrarian reforms in Latin America, Thiesenhusen (1989) estimate d 30.6% of rural households, or 171,861 out of 561,800 farming 2 According to Soto (2006), a report from the IAN in 1998 set the expropriated lands at 2.05 million hectares, or 17% of the IANs land fund. However, a previous report documented by the IAN and Delahaye (2001), sets the number of affected private l ands at 2.3 million hectares. Delahaye (2001: pg 208) documents the declining rate of transfer of private lands to the state. Both Delahaye (2001) and Soto (2006) agree on the declining expropriation of land by the government.


44 families, benefited from the agrarian reform by 1979. Wilpert (2006) sets the number of beneficiaries at over 200,000 families. Soto (2006) cautiously sets the number of beneficiaries at 230,142 families. However, he question s the validit y of the government statistics E stimating the real number of beneficiaries up to 1976, a previous study from the Center of Development Studies [CENDES] argued that the reform had exaggerated the number of beneficiaries, benefiting only 95,320 families by 1975 instead of the 162,141 families claimed by the IAN (Landinez (1976) in Soto, 2006: Pg 35). Taking into account the different studies, it can be concluded that the reform awarded lands to less than half of the potential beneficiaries. As a result, w hile a large number of hectares were adjudicated by the reform, this adjudication did not translate into the redistribution of land from large to small land owners A major critique of the agrarian reform was the limited improvement in the conditions exper ienced by campesino families (Aldano, 1980). The reform neither brought an end to the minifundio nor the latifundio, both of which continued to be represented in Venezuela. To Aldana (1980), the 1960 agrarian reform mainly reorganized the lati fundio, elimi nating only the most unproductive latifundios, and focusing its assistance on the medium -size and large capitalist farmers or the i nterests of those who ob tained lands between 20 and 499 hectares the emphasis was on obtaining a higher level of productivit y from the land which he denominates as the Va Terrateniente, over the Va Campesina. It focused on eliminating latifundio owners as a social class Table 2 2 displays some of the changes that took place from 1961 to 1997. Among the greatest achievements of the agrarian reform was the reduction of the amount of land held by unproductive latifundios which remained from the previous hacienda system. The share of units over 1,000 hectares decreased, from 1.2% to 1.0% of producers, and the concentration of la nd in


45 units of more than 1,000 hectares decreased from 89.4% of the land to 46.4% (Soto, 2006). Another major objective of the agrarian reform was achieved by increasing the share of medium size producers or producers within 20 and 1000 hectares. Medium -si ze producers increased from holding 9.7 % to 47.9% of the agricultural land in the country. However, the reduction of the minifundio was not successfully addressed. Small -size farmers (those with less than 20 hectares) continued to represent the greatest sh are of production units after the reform. In Table 2 5 Sotos (2006 ) analysis of the census illustrates how almost half of rural families owned between just one and five hectares of land. According to the census, production units with less than 20 hectare s, composed primarily of campesinos, actually increased during the time of the agrarian reform from 71.6% to 75.7% of the total. This growth in landholdings under 20 hectares, which includes minifundios, indicates the limited results of the government in i mproving the living conditions of the campesino. Population growth played a role in the increasing number of minifundios; however, as shown in Table 2 1, the growth in the rural population was not as drastic as the growth in urban population. The rural pop ulation went from accounting for 35 % of the population in 1960 to 13 % in 2000, increasing from 1.7 to 2.6 million people. The growth in population was moderate and the reform should have been able to accommodate the growing number of rural families. After the end of the reform, the minifundio / latifundio dichotomy continued to be a dominant trait of Venezuelan agriculture. While the reform clearly diminished the share of land held by land owners having over 1,000 hectares, the redistribution of land primar ily benefited the medium -size land owner. By grouping medium -size and large producers, it is clear the majority of landholdings were production units larger than 20 hectares. By 1997, individuals with 20 or


46 more hectares accounted for only 24.3% of the uni ts but had 94.3% of the lands adequate for production. The increase in the medium -size producer (those with over 20 and less than 1000 hectares) and the marginal changes in the number of latifundios (over 1000 hectares) and minifundios (under 20 hectares) led to small changes in the Gini land coefficient of in equality. Delayahe (2001), and the World Bank (1992) cite different Gini land coefficients for Venezuela, yet their results, which are discussed in the appendix, both display a greater degree of inequality value than other more successful agrarian reforms. According to the World Bank (1992), in 1971 the Gini was estimated to be 0.90 and by 1998 it had only declined to 0.89, still significantly higher than the Latin American average of 0.74 (1981 values). To Soto (2006), in contrast compared to the agrarian reforms carried out in Mexico (which reduced the Gini land value from of 0.96 to 0.69), Egypt (from 0.81 to 0.67) and Taiwan (0.65 to 0.46), the 1960 agrarian reform did little to diminish land inequality in Venezuela. To Aladana (1980) and Wilpert (2006), the majority of producers and rural families remained unaffected by the land reform. Another variable which points to the limited extent of the 1960 agrarian reform is the increase in rural poverty from 1975 to 1997. Table 2 6 displays the level of rura l and urban poverty in Venezuela during these years Delahaye (2001), links this spike in poverty to implementation of neoliberal policies after 1989, which led to the reduction of tariffs and the increased emphasis on export -driven production, resulting i n the further marginalizing the campesino As the table shows, in 1975, more than half of rural families lived in poverty. This number further increased through the years to encompass four fifths of the rural population. Access to credit was another aspect in which the reform primarily benefited the medium size capitalist producers. While the Agricultural and Livestock Bank [BAP] (19281974) aimed


47 to fund the small and medium -size farmer, the bank ended up primarily granting credit to medium and large size capitalist producers during this period. The government awarded credit at an interest rate of 3 % ; however, the credit entities were only able to finance a small percentage of producers (Soto, 2006). From 19591973, the government awarded 65.1% of all the f inancing to small producers, which obtained a return of 51.8% According to Aladana (1980), from 1960 to the publication of his study, campesinos were awarded only 39.7% of the government credit, while the capitalist sector received 60.1 % Private credit b ecame more important than public credit after 1976, representing close to 90 % of the total amount of credit in the 1990s. As private enterprises, private creditors awarded credit primarily to medium -size and large capitalist farmers (Delahaye, 2001) Acces s to government credit diminished as the agrarian reform lost political will. The Institute of Agricultural and Livestock Credit [ICAP] (which replaced the BAP in 1974) provided credit to only 10 % of farmers in the 1990s. It was liquidated in 1999 after it financed only 4,727 farmers and 18,769 hectares in 1998 (Soto, 2006). Aside from increasing access to credit, the 1960 Venezuela also increased fertilizer use and the use of agricultural technology among medium -sized capitalist farmers. As shown in Table 2 3, there was an increase in the use of fertilizers from 1953 (before the agrarian reform) to 1973 (during the years of the agrarian reform). Throughout the agrarian reform, the National Agrarian Institute [IAN] and its related institutions provided farm ers with technical assistance, access to credit and inputs. The government subsidized agricultural inputs as part of its integral rural development plan (Rodriguez, 2003). T he increased use of fertilizers was not unique to Venezuela, as most countries in t he region, whether or not they were carrying out an agrarian reform, increased their use of fertilizer


48 in this period. During the same years, there was also a similar increase regarding the availability of tract ors in Venezuela. As displayed i n Table 2 4, the availability of tract ors doubled from 1950 to 1974. The mechanization of agriculture, the use of genetically modified organisms [GMOs] and other technological advances led to the increase of agricultural productivity per hectare. This increase in produ ctivity is further analyzed in a subsequent section. The access to technology was primarily harnessed by medium -size and large producers, who also had greater access to the market and credit. Other achievements of the 1960 agrarian reform were the construc tion of 437,616 rural houses which likely benefited at least 2 million people, the construction of 883 orthodontic units, and the implementation of a program known as Mivica which practically eradicated the chagas disease through the promotion of improveme nts in housing and the adequate disposal of human waste (Soto, 2006). According to Soto (2006), rural development programs also reduced rural illiteracy from 73.9 % in 1950, to 9.3 % in 1990 and 6.4% in 2001. Despite these improvements, Aldana (1980) and Del ahaye (2001) argue that social improvements for the small farmer could have been more extensive. Another result of the agrarian reform was the development of a legal and illegal land market (Delahaye, 2001). According to the 1997 agrarian census, 90% of th e farmland distributed during the 1960 agrarian reform has been taken over by larger land owners. While the adjudicated land could not be sold, small -size land owners would illegally sell or give usufruct rights of their land over to capitalist farmers or entrepreneurial campesinos (Delahaye, 2001). The lack of an efficient land registry and delays in the justice system (taking a longer time than expected to declare the legality of a land title) facilitated the growth of the informal market and led to such transactions becoming common place (Delahaye, 2001). O ver the years various


49 private land owners have occupied and de facto appropriated land belonging to the state (Martin, 2005) According to Delayahe (2001) the land market was very active, with over 2% of land properties exchanging owners on a yearly basis a rate higher than in most developed nations. While the law attempt ed to reduce the latifundio, corruption was rampant. After President Carlos Andrs Prez (19891993) was removed from office (May 20 1993), it was discovered that he owned over 60,000 hectares throughout the country through third parties (Ramachandran, 2006) Despite the promotion of rural credit and the creation of agencies to help distribute land in Ven ezuela, the achievements of the 1960 A grarian Reform Law were limited. In the aggregate, despite having the support of all of the political parties and some politicians genuine interest in improving living conditions for the small farmer, the political wi ll to bring about this ambitious transformation gradually transformed into a revolution for the medium -size producer. The agrarian reform helped increase the number of medium -sized capitalist production units and expropriate d the largest and most unproductive latifundios, yet it only helped close to a third of the landless or campesino families. Cooperatives in Venezuela before the Chvez Administration Despite their varying structural organizations, decision making procedures, resource use and management and other differences, cooperatives according to the International Co-operative Alliance [ICA], the main principles shared by cooperatives are: a free and voluntary membership; democratic control; economic participation of its members; autonomy and indep endence of cooperatives; formation, education and information; cooperation between cooperatives and concern for the community (ICA, 2009) .3 Today, according to the ICA, over 3 The ICA is a major world c onfederation of cooperatives founded in 1895 with 223 member organizations in 85 countries


50 800 million people are members of cooperatives, they provide 100 million jobs worldwide, and the livelihood of half of the world population is made secure by cooperative enterprises (ICA, 2009) The development of modern cooperatives is associated with the later stages of the European industrial revolution. In an attempt to improve their living conditions, obtain a greater control over the means of production, and reduce income inequality, workers began organizing themselves into cooperatives during the late 19th century. Robert Owen (17711858) and William King (17861865) were some of the intellectual precursors to the modern cooperative movement which rapidly spread across Europe and the rest of the world. Through the 20th century, cooperative organizations spr ead internationally and are to be found in various economic sectors such as savings and credit, agricultural production, housing, transportation, production of goods, production of services, among other categories. As a viable business structure, individua ls who are members of cooperatives are prevalent in various developed countries, particularly within socialist or mixed economic systems. According to Freitez (2007), developed countries such as Finland, Denmark, Austria, and Israel had over 30% of their population organized into cooperatives during the 1960s and 1970s. In the United States, 10% of the population was organized in cooperatives during the same period (Freitez, 2007). As a result of their collective nature cooperatives have been promoted by s ocialist and communist governments, sometimes as a precursor for further collectivization. The USSR organized their agricultural production primarily into state farms known as S ovkhoz and collective production units known as kolkhoz. Kolkhozes share d the communal elements of cooperatives, except their production plans were centralized. In China, cooperativism was


51 pursued strongly by the communist government. By 1975, over 70% of the population was organized into different cooperative organizations in various economic sectors (Soto, 2006). In Latin America, c ooperatives were promoted alongside agrarian reforms in an attempt to improve the living conditions of the campesinos. Cooperative structures were promoted to various degrees, resulting in diverse consequences, primarily related to the support and emphasis provided by the government to the formation of cooperative organizations. Cooperatives were particularly prominent in the Cuban (1959today), Chilean (19641973), Peruvian (19691980s), Nicaraguan (19791990), and Salvadorian (19801989) agrarian reforms (Kay, 2002). In Cuba, Agricultural Production Cooperatives [CPAs] and Basic Units of Cooperative Production [UBPCs] accounted for a major share of agricultural production. According to Royce, Messi na and Alvarez (1997), by the end of 1995, UBPCs accounted for a membership of 271,810 members and occupied 47 % of Cubas agricultural lands. However, in other Latin American agrarian reforms, cooperatives did not account for a major share of agricultural production. Venezuela was part of the later. While the 1960 Agrarian Reform Law was supportive of cooperative production units, most of the cooperatives formed failed a few years after their formation. Venezuela attempted to improve the conditions of the r ural poor by distributing idle land and providing technical assistance and credit to individuals, communities and cooperatives. In Venezuela, a grarian cooperatives were to be provided with credit, training, and markets, according to Articles 137, 138 and 139 of the 1960 Agrarian Reform Law (Guerrero, 1962) Unfortunately, only a few cooperatives were formed. According to Freitez (2007), only 0.5% of the Venezuelas total population was organized into cooperatives between 1960 an d 1970. Between 1961 and 1962, 35 agrarian cooperative enterprises were created. However, they failed primarily as the consequence


52 of inadequate administration, high cost of operations, the low educational level of the campesinos, and the lack of organizat ion (Soto, 2006). Cooperative formation was more successful in urban areas. One of the few thriving cooperatives in Venezuela which was created during the 1960 agrarian reform was the Central Cooperative for Social Services of Lara, also known as CECOSESOL A. CECOSESOLA, created in 1967, has often been portrayed as a model of success. A second degree cooperative CECOSESOLA is a cooperative composed of cooperatives. CECOSESOLA has been a highly successful marketing cooperative, selling products to over 55,000 families every week in the state of Falcon at their weekend agricultural produce fairs With over 20,000 associates and 80 cooperatives, and selling c lose to US $500,000 a week, or US $32 million annually, CECOSESOLA is one of the most financially successful cooperatives in the history of Venezuela (Fox, 2006; Freitez, 2007; Cavadias and Huerta, 2002) Nevertheless, although its financial achievement is undeniable, CECOSESOLA has also drawn criticism over its emphasis on profi t (Fox, 2006). Apart f rom CECOSESOLA, there are few other remaining cooperatives from the 1960s. In addition to the 1960 Agrarian Reform Law, the government also promoted cooperatives by enacting a new law of cooperatives in 1966 and later amending it in 1975. However, the grow th of cooperatives during the 1960 agrarian reform was marginal. Cooperatives were promoted, but they were not the primary production units formed during the agrarian reform. Most of the land was distributed to independent producers, and agrarian cooperati ves remained a side note to the agrarian reform. It was not until the 2001 Special Law of Cooperative Associations and the 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development that cooperatives came to the forefront of agricultural production.


53 Food Production before the Chvez Government The 1960 agrarian reform had a positive impact on agricultural production during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. However, the implementation of neoliberal reforms in the 1990s led to a stagnation of agricultural production in both the a nimal and crop production sectors. While agricultural exports increased, Venezuela became increasingly reliant on imports. Neo liberal reforms adversely affected campesinos in various Latin American countries as they were ill equipped to meet the challenge (Kay, 2002). Venezuela, heavily reliant on agricultural subsidies, was less prepared than other Latin America countries to enter the free market. This section reviews the effect of the agrarian reform in agricultural production policy, crop yield, hectare s under production, and animal production during the agrarian reform. During the initial years of the agrarian reform, agricultural production grew at a greater pace than population growth. The policy emphasis of the government was highly influential in th e resulting agricultural production. Throughout the 1960s Venezuela maintained an average agric ultural growth rate of over 6.0% and a population growth of 2.7% (Salcedo Bastardo, 1996). Governments invested greatly in bringing about an integral agrarian re form, distributing large quantities of land and providing producers with technical support. The political will of the government in bringing about an agrarian reform resulted in high agricultural GDP growth rates which oscillated between 6 and 8% during the 1960s and 1970s (Soto, 2006). In 1970, Venezuela produced 83% of its internal food demand. However, as a result of the growth in population, the agrarian sector increasingly faced difficulties in meeting the national demand. As shown on Table 2 1, the Ve nezuelan population rose from 7.5 million in 1960 to 23 million in 2000. In addition, food demand rose as a result of the growth in affluence within the middle and upper classes.


54 In order to maintain the rate of growth necessary for self -sufficiency produ cers had to import expensive machinery and inputs. The 1974 oil boom led to an overvalued currency and promoted an influx of imports. Imports remained high and reached a peak during mid eighties, prompting President Jaime Lusinchi to devalu ate the Bolivar. This renewed emphasis on increasing domestic production led to the expansion of the agricultural frontier by almost 50% reaching 2 million hectares under production, and reduc ing agricultural imports. However, the debt crisis led to a reorientation of go vernment policy in Venezuela. During the government of Carlos Andres Prez (19891993), the government implemented neoliberal policies which reduced protectionist tariffs, resulting in the rise of imports and exports, and the stagnation of productio n of v arious crops As a result, u nlike the previous growth rates during the first decades of the agrarian reform, the agr icultural GDP grew only 14.4% between 1990 and 2002 (Soto, 2006). During the agrarian reform technological improvements increased the yields of most crops. However, there were only minor increases in the number of hectares placed under production. As shown on Table 2 7, the yield per hectare for some crops increased steadily including the yield of rice, potato, tobacco and corn, while other cr ops such sesame, sugar cane and cotton experienced marginal gains. As shown in Table 2 8, the number of hectares under production did not increase substantially during the agrarian reform, yet the increase in the yield per hectare made Venezuela capable of achieving a high degree of crop self -sufficiency. The surface harvested rose steadily during the agrarian reform until 1990, when it reached approximately 2 million hectares ( out of 30,071,152 hectares ), before it began to decline as a result of neoliberal policies. A similar grow in yield took place with fruits and other crops (Soto, 2006).


55 T he hectares under production and the amount harvested of some food products including rice, potatoes, pineapples, melons increase d all through the agrarian r eform, even during the 1990s .4 However, many food products including coffee, cacao, cotton, sorghum, pork, cattle experienced a decline or stagnation during the 1990s. One of the products most severely affected by the neoliberal policies was the production of black beans which collapsed in the 1990s, a s production decreased from 31,376 tons in 1988 to 18,627 tons in 1999 (Martin, 2005) Further limiting the expansion of food crop production was the increased emphasis and development of livestock production in comparison to crop production. A large portion of the medium -size production units which were developed in the 1960s consisted of cattle ranches According to Aldana (1980), from 1957 to 1967, the value of crop production grew 63 % while cattle productio n grew 146 % Venezuela, historically an exporter of agricultural products before the discovery of oil, increasingly dedicated a greater share of its land to cattle production. Cattle production accounted for 45 % of the total agricultural GDP and 60% of the animal production GDP by the end of the agrarian reform (Soto 2006). According to the FAO, cattle production rose from 6.9 million heads of cattle in 1963 to 15.8 million in 2002. However, most of this sector relied on government protectionist policies and did not implement intensive production techniques. M ost Venezuelan cattle produc ers did not invest in artificial pastures. The cattle gave birth on average every 17 months, rather than a more intensive 12 month reproduction cycle. Cattle growers also fac ed difficulties competing with more productive countries such as Argentina and Brazil In addition, the implementation of neoliberal 4 The production of rice grew from an average of 72,037 hectares planted between 1956 to 1966 with a yield of 1,785 kg per hectare to 198,834 hectares planted in 2005 with a yield of 5,000 kg per hectare.


56 policies led to the stagnation of cattle production, the highest number of heads brought to the market was in 1991. The imp lementation of neoliberal policies also hindered the hog industry. Despite a steady increase in production during the initial years of the agrarian reform, going from 1.6 million heads in 1963, to 2.5 million heads in 1983, and 2.9 million heads in 1990, hogs production remained under 3 million heads in 1995. In addition, by 1999, two thirds of porcine farms had been closed (Soto, 2006). In the aggregate, while the agrarian reform and technological improvements allowed agricultural production to keep pace with domestic demands during the first decades of the agrarian reform, the implementation of neo liberal policies led to the failure and stagnation of a large segment of the heavily protected agricultural sector, further worsening rural poverty and unemployment. The worsening of conditions in the rural sector increased support for a radical change of policy in the agrarian sector and the subsequent enactment of a new law of agrarian development. Worsening Socio -Economic Conditions and the 1998 Election of H ugo Chvez Chvezs ascension from anonymity in 1992 to the presidency in 1998 was the result of his political abilities as well as the compilation of social problems which were ignored by previous administrations. Under the Punto Fijo Accords, the democra tic parties AD and COPEI controlled the executive power of the country from 1958 to 1998. Labeled by outsiders as Saudi, Venezuela was the envy of other, less fortunate Latin American countries yet, despite the high oil revenues, corruption and ineffecti ve management led to an increase in imports and a widening gap between social classes (Gott, 2005; Ellner et al, 2003) Taking advantage of international credit, Venezuela continued to invest heavily in capital intensive industries


57 Venezuela also invested heavily in social programs during the 1960s and 1970s (SalcedoBastardo, 1996) However, following a 20-year decline in oil revenues in the 1980s and 1990s, the state was forced to cut back on social spending and re distributi ve programs (Wilpert, 2006). Similar to Libya, Iran, Algeria, Nigeria and Indonesias handling of their economies, Venezuela mismanaged oil revenues and pursued an ineffective development plan amidst rising expectations (Karl, 1997) After the fall in oi l prices in the 1980s, Venezuela faced a rising debt crisis and a decline in export revenue which forced the government to devalue its currency and diminish its spending on social programs. Social conditions progressively deteriorated through the 1980s an d 1990s. The previous political system further lost support in 1989 when the impoverished masses reacted violently to the implementation of neoliberal policies during Carlos Andres Prezs administration. After abruptly implementing a neoliberal package which raised gas and bus fare prices, a social uprising known as El Caracazo e rupted in Caracas on February 27, 1989. Thousands of barrio dwellers rioted across the country, breaking into stores to steal VCRs, TVs, washers, driers, mattresses, and basic food items such as ham and milk. After a few days, the army suppressed the riots, leaving hundreds and perhaps thousands of unaccounted civilian casualties (Guevara, 2005) Whilst private property had been destroyed and crimes had been committed, the real criminals had been the politicians and administrators who previously laundered millions of dollars through their private bank accounts in Miami, Switzerland and New York. This event led Hugo Chvez to believe a social uprising and leftist military coup could be successful (Marcano and Barrera Tyszka, 2004) On 1992, Chvez attempted a military coup, emerging from political


58 anonymity to become the champion of the masses, fighting for social justice (Ellner et al, 2003; Guevara, 2005). Chvez was imprisoned, yet before surrendering, he promised his supporters that he had only been defeated por ahora (for now). During the 1993 presidential elections, every politician promised to commute Chvezs prison sentence. After being released from prison, he decided to pursue political change through the electoral system. Campaigning across the country he promised to reduce inequality and poverty, to give land to the peasants and to improve general living conditions. Despite his personal appeal Chvez was not among the frontrunners for the presidency until the last year of the presidential campaign. The continued deterioration of social conditions during the presidency of Rafael Caldera (19931998) led voters to support candidates outside the t raditional political parties. In the run up to the 1998 elections, the situation had become so critical that up to 43% of Venezuelans were open to the idea of electing a former leader similar to Perus Alberto Fujimori for president. Another 16 % favored el ecting a leader similar to Fidel Castro (Hellinger, 2003) Hoping for someone different, Venezuelans gambled at the polls by electing a former military officer who had previously attempted to overthrow a democratic government. To the general population, Chvez appeared as an outsider not corrupted by the previous political system. On December 6, 1998, Lieutenant Coronel Hugo Rafael Chvez Fras won the elections in a landslide, with 56.2% of the vote. His victory not only symbol ized a change in the executive, but demonstrated that the previous model of pacted democracy under the Punto Fijo Accords had been utterly discredited (Cameron and Major, 2001; Gott, 2005; McCoy and Myers, 2004; Weyland, 2003)


59 Discussion and Analysis This chapter provided an overview of the agrarian history of Venezuela in an attempt to provide the reader with a better understanding of the events that led to and came about as a result of the previous agrarian reform (19602001) In addition this chapter has highlight ed topic s which are of great relevance to the Chvez agrarian reform, including the prevalence of the minifundio, a history of cooperative organizations and the development of agricultural production. T h is chapter provide s an understanding o f the issues which the Venezuelan government is attempting to address through the creation of the Fundos Zamoranos. Looking at the history of land tenancy since the distribution of property during the colonial system until the end of the 1960 a grarian reform, Venezuela retained a highly unequal distribution of land, a system of extreme inequality which originated from the Spanish colonial institutions. Rural inequality and access to land for the campesino was not addressed until the 1960 agraria n reform The 1960 Law of Agrarian Reform had lofty objective s. Attempting to improve the living conditions of the campesinos and at the same time modernize the agricultural sector, the 1960 agrarian reform was promoted by capitalist producers as well as campesinos. Despite being created in under the wave of Alliance for Progress agrarian reform s the Venezuelan agrarian reform was also enacted as a result of frustrated promises to the campesinos While the reform initially brought major improvements to the campesino, the reform was limited in its extent. A great portion of government aid including the majority of state and private credit, benefited primarily the medium -size capitalist producer. A fter 41 years of agrarian reform, the changes to the minifundio / latifundio dichotomy were limited. In its attempt to increase agricultural production, t h e 1960 agrarian reform was a moderate success Production yields, tonnage, and hectares planted grew for most crops during the 1960s,


60 1970s and 1980s keeping up with the demands of a rapidly growing population. However, after the implementation of neoliberal policies in 1989, the production of various crops and animal products stagna t ed In addition, a steady growth of rural poverty since 1975 paired with the rising expectations from the campesinos for improvement in their living conditions brought forth a renewed interest in enacting an agrarian reform. After a lmost a decade of declining living conditi ons (19891998) the Venezuelan people voted for a platform of change electing Hugo Chvez in support of an administration willing to make radical so cial changes and improve the living conditions for the impoverished masses. Since his election, President Hugo Chvez has steadily enacted social policies, including a new constitution (1999 ) and a new law of agrarian reform (2001). This new agrarian reform or agrarian revolution attempts primarily to improve the living conditions of the small farmer and as a byproduct increase agricultural production.5 Chvez s platform of rural development led to the c reation of the Fundos Zamoranos (the subject of my case study) Under a new land of rural development, the 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development, rural in itiatives and agencies including the Fundos Zamoranos (which are analyzed in the next two chapters) attempt to address the pervasive problem of the minifundio and latifundio and rural pov erty in Venezuelan society, improving on the developments that were p romoted during the 1960 agrarian r efor m Its policy focuses on the campesino, food crops, and the development of a new socialist economy over the growth of export products and capitalist producers. 5 Government officials prefer to refer to the current changes as The Law of Lands or the Agrarian Revolution to disassociate the current movement with the previous agrarian reform.


61 Table 2 1 Population Distribution of Venezuela (1910 2000) Year Population Urban (%) Urban Rural (%) Rural 1910 2,596,000 15 389 400 85 330 990 1920 2,816,000 20 563 200 80 450 560 1930 3,118,000 25 779 500 75 584 625 1936 3,364,000 35 1 177 400 65 765 310 1940 3,850,771 39 1 501 801 61 916 098 1950 5,034,838 48 2 416 722 52 1 256 696 1960 7,523,999 65 4 890 599 35 1 711 710 1970 10,721,522 72 7 719 496 28 2 161 459 1980 14,516,735 79 11 468 221 21 2 408 326 1990 18,105,265 83 15 027 370 17 2 554 653 2000* 23,232,553 87 20 212 321 13 2 627 602 Note : Projection ; Source: CEPAL ( 1999 ) ; ECLAC (1991) Table 2 2 Units of Production by Size (1961 1997) 1961 Has. Units of Prod. Units of Prod. (%) Total Has. Total Has. (%) 1 to 20 has. 254,806 71.6 214,884 0.9 20 to 1,000 has. 96,615 27.2 2,258,003 9.7 1,000 has. 4,223 1.2 20,804,673 89.4 Total 355,644 100.0 23,277,560 100.0 1997 Has. Units of Prod. Units of Prod. (%) Total Has. Total Has. (%) 1to 20 has. 386,878 75.7 1,707,674 5.7 20 to 1,000 has. 119,156 23.3 14,396,744 47.9 1,000 has. 4,945 1.0 13,966,744 46.4 Total 510,979 100.0 30,071,152 100.0 Source: Soto ( 2006 ) Table 2 3 Fertilizer U se in Latin America (Kg / Ha) (1949 1973) Country 1949 1953 1961 1963 1971 1973 Argentina 1.0 1.1 5.6 Brazil 2.6 8.5 41.0 Colombia 5.6 32.7 56.0 Costa Rica 88.0 80.6 155.3 Cuba 34.7 77.7 158.1 Chile 22.6 55.5 113.2 Mxico 2.8 19.5 52.1 Peru 64.3 63.1 55.8 Venezuela 4.7 15.7 54.3 Latin America 5.5 15.5 42.3 Source : Rodriguez Rojas ( 2003 )


62 Table 2 4 Tractors per 1,000 Hectares in Latin America (1950 1974) Country 1950 1974 Argentina 3.6 12.3 Brazil 1.2 4.9 Colombia 3.5 8.1 Costa Rica 3.0 15.6 Cuba 5.2 32.3 Chile 5.2 19.6 Mxico 3.0 8.9 Peru 2.9 7.6 Venezuela 6.4 13.9 Latin America 2.8 8.2 Source : Rodriguez Rojas ( 2003 ) Table 2 6 Profile of Poverty Share of Total Individuals by Locale (1975 1997) Area 1975 1982 1988 1990 1992 1995 1997 Urban 18.0 20.2 39.9 52.1 49.8 59.7 56.5 Rural 52.0 49.9 67.7 75.6 73.3 81.6 80.8 Source: Soto ( 2006 ) Table 2 5 Production Unit Survey Twenty or Less Hectares (1961 1997) Size and Distribution of Land Holdings 1961 Size (Has.) Units % Surface (Has.) % Less than 1 17,734 5.6 9,441 0.0 1 a 4.9 137,883 43.7 348,416 1.3 5 to 9.9 57,802 18.3 395,432 1.5 10 a 19.9 41,387 13.1 507,153 1.5 1to 20 has 254,806 71.6 1,260,442 4.4 Total 355,644 100.0 23,277,560 100.0 Size and Distribution of Land Holdings 1997 Size (Has.) Units % Surface (Has.) % Less than 1 42,758 8.4 20,777 0.1 1 a 4.9 209,484 41.0 457,142 1.5 5 to 9.9 75,282 14.7 481,418 1.6 10 a 19.9 59,354 11.6 748,337 2.5 1to 20 has 386,878 75.7 1,707,674 5.7 Total 510,974 100.0 30,071,162 100.0 Source: Soto (2006)


63 Table 2 7 Production Yield s of Various Crops (Kg/Ha) Products 1957 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 Rice 731 1,737 3,076 3,495 3,500 5,000 Cotton 669 924 1,321 1,181 1,157 1,300 Sesame 530 705 634 515 669 465 Potato 8,325 10,751 11,249 13,287 17,209 18,918 Corn 1,200 1,272 1,460 2,168 3,500 3,416 Tobacco 994 1,260 1,478 1,615 1,633 1,871 Sugar Cane 61,000 80,000 65,000 67,831 68,672 67,693 Source: Soto ( 2006 ) Table 2 8 Surface Harvested and Value of Production During the 1960 Agrarian Reform Year Value of Ag ricultural Production (1,000 Bs ) Surface Harvested (Has) Value of the Agricultural ( Crop Production / Bs )* 1966 6,733,187 1,570,242 4,288 1970 9,741,986 1,798,642 5,416 1975 10,306,689 1,733,210 5,947 1980 11,748,227 1,729,880 6,791 1985 12,738,420 1,857,611 6,857 1990 13,370,932 1,965,277 6,804 1995 16,215,559 1,704,840 9,512 Note: Bs. 1984 Value ; Source: Delahaye (2001)


64 CHAPTER 3 CHVEZS AGRARIAN RE FORM La nica manera de acabar con la pobreza es dndole poder a los pobres Hugo Chvez Fras, Presidente de la Repblica Bolivariana de Venezuela Objectives Attempting to bring about a comprehensive change to the conditions of the campesino i n Venezuela, the 2001 agrarian reform has provided campesinos with land, as well as credit, machinery and technical support to transform previously underproductive lands into the basis for the countrys food production. Unlike the previous agrarian reform, the current agrarian reform focuses on the campesino rather than the capitalist producer. The government has sought to bring about this transformation primarily through the granting of usufruct rights of government lands to campesinos providing them with training and establishing cooperatives. The government can grant production rights to any land which is under -productive to individuals willing to work it, who will be able to retain the land as long as it remains productive. Starting with the 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the government laid the framework for elimination of the latifundio. The 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development is the foundation fo r the current agrarian reform. The la w was modified in 2005 to expedite the expropriation of unproductive lands. T he 2001 Special Law of Cooperative Asso ciations has organized much of the agrarian sector around cooperative organizations. This chapter provides an overview of the different aspects of the current agrarian reform, including legal changes, its execution, organization, and achievements. The creation of the Fundos Zamoranos and the agrarian cooperatives are described and the problems that have been associated with the current agrarian reform process are analyzed, including rising insecurity and food scarcity problems. This chapter lays the ground work for the issues subsequently explored in my case study of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt.


65 Legal Framework Learning from the mistakes of the previous agrarian reform, the 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the 2001 L aw of Lands and Ag rarian Development differ from previous legal efforts in their attempt to establish a system w h ere land is tax ed according to its level of idleness Unlike the previous agrarian reform, which fomented the creation of a land market and the creation of medium -size capitalist production units, the current agrarian reform emphasizes the improvement of social conditions for the campesino an d a reduction of rural poverty. While Chvez s agrarian reform also provides credit and assistance to medium -size and large capitalist producers, the reform focus es on the small farmer the campesino, or minifundia producer The government is attempting to f urther reduce the minifundio / latifundio dichotomy and establish medium -size cooperative production units as the bas is for agricultural production in Venezuela. The Chvez gover nment s move towards the Socialism of the 21st Century promotes a movement away from profit driven production, to bring about a socialist change in society akin to the land ref orms implemented in Cuba, Russia, and other socialist states in contrast to the capitalist driven land reforms promoted under Alliance for Progress Since 2005, Chvez has attempted to enhance the social aspect of the agrarian reform and has advocated the redefinition of the latifundio so that it not only is based on the size of the land holding but on the relationship between the workers and the production unit. T he laws of the agrarian r eform have been continuously modified to more adequately fit the goals of the Bolivarian Revolution To Chvez the war against the latifundio is not driven to increase the profit of the agricultural sector but to eliminate the exploitation of the campesino. There is a territorial latifundio, there is also a latifundio which is social, which is the exploitation of man, of the human being, because while you may only have an hectare, if you have there a person who takes care of your house so that you can spend there your weekends and in addition you have a pool and air con ditioning in your house, you have there a person in an exploitative condition. You are a latifundio owner. This is the social


66 latifundio which is exploitation of the h uman being. (Hugo Chvez s peech given in 2005, quoted by Soto, 2006: 14) As of 2009, the main pieces of legislature supporting the agrarian reform are the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution, 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development, the 2001 Special Law of Cooperative Associations, and the 2005 modifications to the Law of Lands and Agrarian Develo pment, as well as the 2001 Law of Fishing and Aquaculture, the 2002 Law of the Agricultural Market, the 2008 Law of Credit for the Agrarian Sector, the 2008 Law of the Agrarian Bank, and the 2008 Organic Law of Security and Agroalimentary Sovereignty, amo ng others. Since 1999, the agrarian reform process has been legally strengthened to improve the life of the campesino and bring about a social transformation of rural Venezuela. This section focuses on the main laws and decrees which promote the current agrarian reform and rural development changes and how they differ from the laws implemented by previous administrations. It also addresses the legal means by which the government has distributed land to the campesinos and other agricultural production units. T he government s legal attempts to improve agrarian conditions in Venezuela began with the constitutional reform of 1999. Various articles in the new constitution address topics related to the ownership of land and the economic organization of the Bolivar ian Republic of Venezuelan. These articles stress the importance of food sovereignty ( Article 305), rural development ( Articles 305, 306), the nationalization of waterways ( Article 304), the promotion of cooperatives ( Article 308) and the elimination of the latifundio ( Article 307). Article 307 serves as the primary foundation for the Law of Lands and Agrarian Development. This article describes the constitutions orientation to promote a more equal distribution of land. In accordance with the article: The predominance of large idle estates (latifundios) is contrary to the interests of society. Appropriate tax provisions shall be enacted to tax fallow lands and establish the necessary


67 measures to transform them into productive economic units, likewise re covering arable land. Farmers and other agricultural producers are entitled to own land in the cases and forms specified under the pertinent law The state shall protect and promote associative and private forms of property in such manner as to guarantee a gricultural production. The state shall see to the sustainable ordering of arable land to guarantee its food producing potential (My t ranslation of Article 307 of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution) T he enactment of the new constitution marked the beginning of social change in Venezuela. Its prohibition of the latifundios and the aim to attain food self -sufficiency contain s the administration s commitment to diminishing inequality in the rural areas and improve the living standard of the campesino. Like the previous agrarian reform, the Chvez s agrarian reform is a comprehensive development program which not only awards land to the campesino but provides him with credit, access to the market, technical assistance, education, health care, and infrastructure. Being supported by the constitution, agrarian reform is a greater priority under the Chvez administration than under previous governments. After enacting the 1999 constitution, the government furthered pursued its rural development policy through the enac tment of the 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development and went even further by modifying the law in 2005. The 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development legally replaced the 1960 Law of Agrarian Reform (19602001), and focused on promoting rural equality a nd food security. The Law of Land and Agrarian Development provided the tools and delineated the manner in which the state will carry out its constitutional goals for the rural sector. The objective of the Law of Lands and Agrarian reform is to improve the agrarian structure by guaranteeing a sustainable and integral rural development, protect biodiversity, provide agroalimentary security, and environment protection. Based on a socialist model of development, Chvezs agrarian reform prioritizes improving the conditions of the campesino by awarding him land and organizing groups of campesinos into cooperatives over the capitalist producer


68 Retaining various aspects of the previous agrarian reform law, this law attempts to improve the agrarian registry, brin g idle lands under production, and distribute land to landless peasants. In contrast to the previous agrarian reform law of Venezuela, this law promotes the conuco form of development and its biodiversity.1 By promoting the conuco, the government is attempting to move away from export oriented agriculture, focusing on food security policies and the retention of the biodiversity of the conuco and traditional Native American agriculture. Focusing on the campesino rather than the capitalist farmer, the current agrarian reform promotes the formation of agrarian cooperatives and the planting of food crops. The latifundio is condemned as an obstacle to accomplishing these objectives. Despite afore mentioned differences between the 1960 and 2001 focus of the agrari an reform, i n structure the 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development shares some basic parameters with the previous laws. All of the laws create d an organization in charge of the distribution of land during the agrarian reform, IAN in the past (1945, 1948, 1949, 1960), and now the National Institute of Land [INTI]. All have provided for the expropriation of land and the provision of credit at low interest rates. All of the laws classif y land according to its quality and primary use and all of the previou s agrarian laws had as their objective redistributing and increasing production on idle or underutilized productive lands. However, u nlike the previous agrarian laws which classified land primarily into four principal groups (first and second class crop pr oduction lands, and first and second class grazing lands ) the current law attempts to take into account regional agricultural differences by 1 The term conuco and minifundio a re used interchangeably in the Venezuelan agrarian literature. However, the current Venezuelan administration is attempting to disassociate these terms. To the Chvez administration, the conuco represents the planting of food crops and promoting biodivers ity contrast to the mono productive units which were prevalent during the previous agrarian reform. By minifundia, the government refers to small production units in terms of hectares and quality of land.


69 s eparating land into a brother array of categories. According to Article 104 lands are classified in a scale of on e to ten according to their quality and use (See Table 3 1). Lands with an agricultural vocation are classified from type I to type IV Grazing lands are classified from type V to type VI Lands type s VII to VIII are forest lands, while type IX is utilized for natural reservations L ands of type X are reserved for agro -tourism. The lands are classified after an evaluation by the INTI. Land classifications are useful in determining which lands are meeting production standards. The lands can be classified as idle, requiring improvement or productive. In his overview of the previous agrarian reform, Delahaye (2001), mentioned the importance of regionalizing future attempts at agrarian reform. Jaspersens (1969) analysis of five different case studies based on c ost -benefit analysis during the 1960 agrarian reform highlights the need for the development of an agrarian reform where policy is differentiated according to regions. The 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development attempts to provide a regional focus to t he agrarian reform. In addition, the law also requires production units to register themselves and obtain a title of productivity. According to their classification, lands are held accountable for a certain level of production, which if they fail to meet, they will be considered underproductive, taxed and possibly expropriated. If land is not producing at an 80 % level of efficiency, they will be taxed proportionally to their degree of idleness. If land requires improvement, the owner will have two years to reclassify their land as productive. Lands classified as productive must renew their certification every two years. After a modification of the law in 2005, the state can also expropriate lands even if they are productive if they exceed 5,000 hectares By 2005, authorities had identified more than 500 farms, including 56 large estates, as idle and another 40,000 farms


70 were in the process of being inspected (Woods, 2005) While under investigation, an owner facing expropriation c an take the case to court to prove lawful ownership of the lands. Some provisions which differentiate the current agrarian reform with the 1960 agrarian reform and have accelerated the distribution of land have generated controversy. The 2001 law originally attempted to expedite placing land into production by allowing beneficiaries to farm the land while the agrarian court ruled on ownership disputes During the previous agrarian reform and the current agrarian reform, the lack of a precise la nd registry, the high number of illegal land occupations, and the widespread use of forged documents led to the creation of a judicial tribunal system where the validity of land titles was analyzed. As a result of corruption and the inaccuracy of land titl es, court rulings limited the number of expropriations during the 1960 agrarian reform (Soto, 2006). Fearing a gridlock in judicial rulings, the government instated Article 89 which advocated the pr inciple of previous occupation, which allowed invasion of lands which are unproductive or idle before they are expropriated from their owner whether or not he has a legal title to the land. Another controversial article was A rticle 90, which stated that land owners would not be compensate d for improvements if the majority of their land if their land even if they did not possess legal title to the land This article was criticized by medium -size capitalist land owners who felt they had invested money and time to develop lands which were not used by the state. While they did not have a legal title to the land, the inefficiency of the state in regulating and awarding land titles resulted in the growth of the illegal land market and colonization of idle state lands during the previous agrarian reform (Delayahe, 2001). A major roadblock to the implementation of a successful land reform what that the Supreme Court in 2002 struck down articles 89 an d 90 by arguing they were unconstitutional as


71 they fomented the preemptive occupation of latifundios by peasants and generated fear that land owners would not be compensated for their investments. Agrarian lawyer Edgar Nu ez supported the decision by the Supreme Court which considered articles 89 and 90 as an infringem ent on the constitutional right to private property, due proce ss and a violati on of the separation of powers (Alcantara 2003) However, he felt the decision had only addressed some of the problems with the law. Alcantara (2003) also opposed the enactment of articles 40, 43, and 82 on the basis of unconstitutionality.2 While the ruling temporally obstructed the agrarian reform, in April 2005 the National Assembly passed a modification which essentially reinstated A rticle 90 with a slight change in the text. As for A rticle 89, the government has gone around the previ ous occupation by issuing a grarian l etters" which grant peasants provisional rights to the land, leading to an increase in the number of land occupations. These are not land titles, but allow the temporary occupation and use of land until legal disputes are resolved in court. The agrarian letters are not transferable (Ramachandran 2006) Agrarian letters are not contained in the 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development but are the result of Executive Decree 2.290 of January 31, 2003. According to the decree, the lands that have agricultural vocation and are idle or are not meeting produc tion standards can be awarded to campesino groups which are ready to cultivate them. As soon as the production units are awarded an agrarian letter, the procedure for a permanent adjudication is set into motion. 2 These articles dealt with the process of expropri ation. The Supreme Court ruled on November 2002 that the procedure for notifying a land owner that his lands were under investigation were adequate, and the responsibility lies with the tenant for being aware of the governments investigation regarding the tenants ownership of the land. The court argued that further attempts to notify the tenant would diminish the efficacy of the agrarian reform (Alcantara, 2003).


72 Ninety -four percent of the lands that have been placed in production during the Chvez agrarian reform are producing under an agrarian letter (INTI, 2007). Another form of temporary land rights awarded by the government has been the Declaration of Permanence. According to Article 17 of the 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development, Declarations of Permanence are awarded to farmers who have been producing on land which lacks a land title. These farmers are allowed to remain on these lands as long as they are small or medium producers, collective forms of production such as cooperatives, or a population group. They are allowed to remain in this land while the government decides to either adjudicate the land to them or relocated them to lands of a similar or better condition. Declarations of Permanence h ave increased since 2005 yet they account for only 5% of the land that has been placed under production by the Chvez government. Finally, a djudication titles or permanent titles of ownership of the land have been awarded to only 1% of production units during the Chvez agrarian reform. The number of adjudication titles has also increased since 2005. However, its occurrence is marginal. Under this title, the land is awarded on a permanent basis to the recipient. Under adjudication ti tles, the land can be expropriated if the land is not meeting production standards. Whether the government will award permanent land titles to farmers, continue awarding primarily temporary land documents of production or further collectivize agriculture in Venezuela is not clear. The Chvez administration has increasingly moved toward a more socialist system of government. It is possible that future reductions in what constitute a latifundio, further state ownership of land and a movement away from perman ent land titles will take place. As of now, the majority of land documents of production rights awarded by the government have been agrarian letters which are temporally in nature. In addition those holding


73 permanent land titles must maintain their product ion efficiency at 80% in order to obtain a certificate of production. The government has increased its level of adjudications since 2005, however, they account for only 1% of the land documents of production rights awarded. Sources of Lands for the Agrari an Reform: National Lands vs. Expropriations As of 2008, INTI has distributed 4,624,420 hectares of which 2,001,823 belonged to latifundios. The exact proportion of state vs. expropriated lands is not clear in the data. However, the majority of the land of which has been redistributed are state lands as the tenant did not have a proper land title and thus were probably obtained illegally (MPPAT, 2008) Land from production units that were larger than the limitations set under t he 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development have also been distributed. A major problem in determining the number of hectares of state lands and private lands that have been distributed is the result of the inadequacy of the land registry in Venezuela. T he 1960 agrarian reform improved the land registry, but t he inaccuracy of the agrarian censuses the growth of the illegal land market, and the falsification of land titles (lands were occasionally obtained through political favors, falsified titles, and other controversial methods) has created complications in establishing rightful ownership of the land (Delahaye, 2001). In an effort to improve data regarding the ownership of land, the government is currently conducting an agrarian census. Owners are requ ired to provide documentation of ownership of land going as far back as 1848 (Soto, 2006). If the owner fails to prove ownership of the land, he can obtain a land title from the state if the land is determined to be productive, otherwise his land could be subject to expropriation. Unfortunately, delays in the judicial system slows down the distribution of land. Despite critical news coverage by the press, most of the lands handed out by the agrarian reform have been national lands. In a survey of articles in the New York Times and the Christian


74 Science Monitor in the United States, DeLong (2005) analyzed how the United States press has promoted the notion that most of the land has been recklessly seized by the government, when in reality the majority of the lands tha t have been adjudicated belong to the state Controlling the largest quantity of land, the state has been able to re distribute land to campesinos and cooperatives who request land from the government. According to INTI by 2004, of the la nds titles awarded by the state, only 1 % has been challenged in court (Wilpert, 2006). According to Juan Carlos Loyo, the president of the INTI, 90% of the lands brought to the government for titling belonged to the state (Tovar, 2009) The government has also paid restitution for most expropriations. On May 2006, Venezuela agreed to pay US $3.2 million to 12 Spanish land owners for 1,154 hectares of land in the fertile Yaracuy area (Ramachandran, 2006) However, as available na tional lands are used up, the government will have to further expropriate private land owners to continue with the current pace of the agrarian reform. In order to increase the rate of distribution of land, on January 10, 2005, President Chvez launched a campaign to speed up the land reform Chvez revamped his war against the landed states, and suggested the targeting of private e states (Gindin 2005) Expropriations were fac ilitated after the passing of modifications to the Law of Lands and Agrarian Development in 2005 which permitted lands over the maximum farm size to be expropriated even if they were productive (O'Donoghue, 2005) In March of that year the government expropriated five latifundios which were lacking pro per ownership titles (Gindin 2005) One of the most well known and documented cases has been the Charcote estate with 32,000 acres and which produced 450,000 kilos of beef a year (Martin 2005) Despite being productive, it was invaded by peasants and ha s since dropped its meat production by a third, with


75 the size of its herd falling from 13,500 in 1999 to 6,000 in 2006 (DeLong 2005) El Charcote, one of the Vestey Group of cattle ranches in the country, account ed for 4 % of the beef production in the cou ntry (Woods 2005) While it is clear that the majority of the land that has been distributed originates from state lands, the exact ratio of redistribution of state to expropriated private lands was not available in any of the sources. However, it is safe to assume that the government has increased its distribution of expropriated private lands during recent years of the reform and may continue to do so as accessible and quality state lands become scarce. Fundos Zamoranos and Their Organizational Structure The only thing that existed here were farm workers, factory workers. Now, once again the campesino is reclaiming his lands. Ender Pirela Member of Fundo Zamorano La Independencia (INTI, 2009 Translated by Alfonso Sintjago ) This section explains what Fundo Zamorano consist of before exploring other aspects of the Chvezs agrarian reform in order to more adequately understand the effect others aspects of the reform have had on the Fundos Zamoranos. Created from either expropr iated private lands or state lands, Fundos Zamoranos are production units organized by the state in an attempt to bring about integral rural development and an increase in agricultural production, while emphasizing socialist values of cooperation and solid arity. The Fundos Zamoranos grant previously landless workers and campesinos access to the means of production and the ability to work for themselves. Writing months before the implementation of the Law of Lands and Agrarian Reform, Delahaye (2001), was cr itical of the previous reforms lack of regionalization in their planning. In contrast, the Fundos Zamoranos appear to be organized according to regional conditions and needs. These production units vary greatly. While there seems to be a basic structure, certain


76 variables such as the number of production units and the number of cooperatives can vary greatly. These variations among Fundos Zamoranos are related to their geographical conditions. Despite their variations, Fundos Zamoranos share a basic organiz ational structure A Fundo Zamorano is a group of cooperatives whose goal is to coordinate production, share machinery and inputs and establish a cooperative of the second degree around the vocero and the Casa Zamorana. All fundos are composed of cooperati ves and their members are expected to share according to their labor contribution Hypothetically, the cooperatives are not supposed to hire workers regularly, but only occasionally, particularly during the harvest season or as the result of unexpected cir cumstances. The cooperatives which compose the Fundos Zamoranos were created through one of the government misiones or social programs known as Misin Vuelvan Caras. This program focuses on training unemployed individuals or individuals of the lower social classes in new occupations such as cooks, tailors, bus drivers and farmers. During a varying number of months (from two to six ) these individuals are taught a skill and how to work in cooperatives. An in -depth look at other misiones and Vuelvan Caras will be provided later. Every fundo is expected to elect a vocero or spokesperson to communicate their needs to the government. Aside from the vocero, which speaks for the whole fundo, each cooperative has a president and a treasurer. The presidents of the coo peratives are expected to meet once a week at a Casa Zamorana (headquarters) to discuss the order of business.3 As of 2007, there were 85 Fundos Zamoranos nationwide, as shown in Table 3 2. The state of Aragua had the most with a total of 8 Fundos Zamoranos each with an average of 1, 483 3 The government provides the funding for the construction of a Casa Zamorana on every fundo. In the INTI 2006 report, casas zamoranas were currently being constructed in La Cajara de Paraima, a fundo in Cojedes, and Casiano de Medranda, and on a fundo in Yaracuy (INTI, 2006).


77 hectares, and benefiting an average 68 families. With 47 cooperatives in 8 different fundos, there is an average of 6 cooperatives per fundo. In contrast, in Monagas, two Fundos Zamoranos hav e an average of 4,247 hectares per fundo. They have an average of 18 cooperatives and benefit an average of 327 families per fundo. The Fundos Zamoranos in these two states vary greatly from each other and there are greater discrepancies among other Fundos Zamoranos across the country in the average number of families benefited, number of cooperatives pe r fundo and number of hectares. As illustrated in Figure 1 1 the broad regional differences in typography across Venezuela require the creation of different types of agricultural production units and crop choices according to the type of land. It is difficult to know why a particular state has a certain number of cooperatives and average hectares per Fundo Zamorano. Various variables including the availabilit y of land, the success of Misin Vuelvan Caras in the region, and the main crops planted in the region, among other variables play a major role into the type of Fundo Zamorano that is developed in a particular region. In order to establish possible correla tions, further study of other Fundos Zamoranos is necessary. Administration of the Reform and Rural Development Initiatives As during the 1960 agrarian reform, Chvez s agrarian reform has integrated different governmental organizations in an attempt to br ing about a comprehensive change to the distribution of land in the rural areas and improve social conditions. To bring about an integral rural development, the government has emphasized a set of wide -ranging actions in the rural sector and promoted initia tives to reduce rural unemployment, increase agricultural produc tion and develop human capital. Along with the new agrarian law, the government restructured most of the agencies dealing with the agrarian sector and created a new array of agencies that deal with issues spanning from


78 instruction and training including the reorganization of the National Institute of Socialist Training and Education [INCES], the reorganization of Institute of Training and Innovation to Support the Agrarian Revolution [CIARA] an d creation of the National Institute for Agricultural Investigations [INIA], to the creation of Special Zones of Sustainable Development [ZEDES], and the multiplication of credit and subsidy awarding institutions, including the Fund for the Development of Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Related [FONDAFA], the Agricultural Bank of Venezuela [BAV], the Micro -credit Development Bank [FONDEMI], the Bank for the Development of Women [BANMUJER], the Fund for the Agrarian Socialist Development [FODAS], the Fund o for the Endogenous Development [FONENDOGENO], the Foundation of Strategic Food Programs [FUNDAPROAL], among many other institutions. The government has also created 30 government misiones or special programs, most of which focus on improving the living c onditions of the poor, the campesino. The alphabet soup of misiones and government agencies (ministries and institutions) has led to a redistribution of income and a renewed emphasis on development. From 1999 to 2007 the government increased the number of ministries from 14 to 27. This long list of newly created programs deal with a variety of agrarian issues and have at time overlapping jurisdictions. This section highlight s the major institutions which are part of the agrarian reform as well as some of t he problems which have resulted from the rapid reorganization of the bureaucracy. This section also addresses the constant need for the evaluation and reorganization of these institutions by the government to adequately meet the needs of the rural populati on. Out of the different and large number of institutions which fall under the umbrella of agrarian reform, those that were created under the 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development h ave been the cornerstone of agrarian developments. The Law of Lands an d


79 Agrarian Development created the National Institute of Land [INTI] under Article 116, the National Institute of Rural Development [INDER] under Article 132, and the Venezuelan Agrarian Corporation [CVA] under Article 147. These three institutions and the MPPAT are responsible for most rural development projects. INTI, whose goal is t he administration, distribution, and regularization of land, has been responsible for the redistribution of 4,624,420 hectares, awarding 105,922 documents of production rights and the re covery of over 2 million hectares that were previously under the control of latifundios. INDER whose goal is to develop infrastructure, training and extension, has been responsible for the installation of 697.5 hectares under irrigation in the state of Zulia while training 7,420 individuals across the country. CVA, whose goal is promote, coordinate and execute the food objectives of the government has been responsible for importing 1,800 tons of soy seeds from B razil as well as bringing to mark et 1,600 tons of crop produced at agrarian NDEs and Fundos Zamoranos (MPPAT, 2008) Other achievements of the Chvez agrarian reform are explored in a following section. Other highly important institutions in bringing about an integral rural development are the credit institutions. Under Chvez credit institutions have obtained a large quantity of funds from the state and provided low interest rates to both campesinos and medium -size or large capitalist producers. Credit institutions such as the FONDAFA the BAV and the FONDEMI alongside the Central Bank of Venezuela [BCV] are instrumental in providing credit and setting interest rates according the 2001 Agrarian Law and t he 2001 Law of Credit. Apart from the formation and reorganization of institutions, the establishment of new ministries has increased emphasis on a greater amount of social problems. Some of the new ministries such as the Ministry of Popular Power for Food, The Ministry of Popular Power for


80 the Communes, Ministry of the Popular Power for Womens Issues, Ministry of the Popular Power for the Indigenous Groups, Ministry of the Popular Power for High Education, and Ministry of the Popular Power for Tourism, among others have been involved in the promotion of integral rural development. In addition, the government has also created a number of misiones o r social programs to deal with an array of issues, from health to education. The rural population, having a higher poverty rate than the rest of the country, has particularly benefited from the government misiones which emphasize improving the conditions of poorest (The misiones will be analyzed in subsequent section). The government has also promoted the creation of Enterprises of Socialist Production [EPS]. EPS are formed primarily through the nationalization of private enterprises. CVA Pedro Camejo, Pequ iven, Empresa de Produccin de Leche, the Metro, PDVSA, Cadafe, Conviasa and Hidroven are some of the government enterprises currently operating as EPS. The government has created three types of EPS units: EPS units of communal service, of communal distrib ution or of communal production. Through the EPS, the government maintains a hierarchical business model while emphasizing equity, solidarity and cooperation rather than profit (, 2005) This extensive number of institutions (among many others) have promoted the transformation of the agrarian landscape in an attempt to eliminate the latifundio, provide greater opportunities for campesinos, and reduce rural poverty as is stipulated by the Venezuelan constitut ion and the 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development. Unfortunately, in bringing about these changes the government has encountered a series of problems, including overlapping jurisdiction between institutions and the need to reorganize institutions.


81 Att empting to create a new form of socialism, Chvez has asked his supporters to create the socialism of the 21st century (El Nuevo Herald 2005) Under this spirit of innovation, institutions are created on a need basis (Bikel, 2008; Marcano and Barrera Tyszka, 2004; Chvez 2008) .4 The process of agrarian reform is also a dynamic process requiring adaptation and changes. A recent major reorganization which impacted the Fundos Zamoranos was the transfer of their control from the INTI to CIARA The objective of CIARA is to train campesinos for their active participation in rural communities and to promote sustainable development projects. This institution, focused on development rather than the distribution of land, is said to be better suited to address the current needs of the Fundos Zamoranos which by 2008 had secured their claims to the land (a process administrated by INTI) and were focused on improving their agricultural production. Visiting a Fundo Zamorano while these change s were taking place, there w as visible confusion regarding the administration of the f undos during this period of reorganization. INIA was also reorganizing during my visit. In a meeting with a representative of INIA, she mentioned how her institution was making an effort to diminish red tape and administrative gridlocks (Martinez, 2008). A common cited source of gridlock and justifying reorganization was the fear of counter -revolutionary bureaucrats within the various institutions inherited from the previous administration. A large n umber of civil servants remain the same. In a highly polarized climate, complaints about the bureaucracy inherited from the previous government are common, as they are seen as a hindrance to the adequate functioning of institutions (Lemoine 4 Journalists follow closely Chvezs weekly speeches on the televised program Alo Presidente!, where the president has at times removed ministers, awarded credits, created institutions and named vice presidents. In some of these weekly programs he is seen visiting Fundos Zamoranos and decreeing policies regarding credit, production and land expropriation ( Marcano and Barrera Tyszka, 2004; Chvez, 2008)


82 2003) Accordi ng to Human Rights Watch (2008), in an effort to increase efficiency in government agencies, politically motivated hiring and firing has been documented. Another problem which has resulted from the rapid expansion of institutions and the dynamic nature of the agrarian reform process has been overlapping functions of different agencies. For example, the agrarian reform adjudicated land to two very similar beneficiary organizations the Nuclei of Endogenous Development [NDE] and Fundos Zamoranos through two different institutions, the Ministry of Popular Economy [MINEP] and the Ministry of Agriculture and Land [MPPAT]. T he NDEs were under the juri sdiction of the MINEP, while the Fundos Zamoranos were under the jurisdiction of the MPPAT. Since both are c omposed of cooperatives, NDEs and Fundo Zamoranos are difficult to distinguish from each other. Both of these organizations originated under the government program Misin Vuelvan Caras, and are composed of individuals who were trained to be farmer s .5 Having a si milar structure and origin, the only perceptible difference between the agricultural NDEs and the Fundo Zamoranos is the more precarious conditions of the agricultural NDE s If a NDE improves its infrastructure, productivity and sustainability, it is then transferred to the MPPAT and becomes a Fundo Zamorano. According to my interviews with government workers, agrarian NDEs are practically interchangeable with Fundos Zamoranos (Guzman, 2008; Careno, 2008) Through 2008, the government continued to debate whether to transfer the agrarian NDEs to the control of the 5 Depending on the participants vocational training, the government has created 5 types of NDE s, one of which is the agricultural NDE. The Fundo Zamorano is organizationally t he same as an agricultural NDE in its composition. However, the government has now classified them into two different groups to differentiate them according to their level of development.


83 MPPAT. Endowed with a smaller budget, MINEP was having difficulties funding development projects. Other difficulties faced by the government in administrating the agrarian reform are the relatively small rural population, the difficulty in reversing rural urban migratory patterns and the lack of major peasant organizations. As shown in Table 2 1, the population in the year 2000 was only 13% rural. The campesinos, a clear demographic minority spread out across the m ajority of the territory, lack a major social movement or autonomous national organization. According to Peter Rosset a major obstacle faced by Chvezs agrarian reform is the top down nature of the agrarian reform movement. Unlike Brazil, Venezuela lack s major peasant organizations (Cited in Clarke, 2005) In addition, there is little incentive for the unemployed urban dweller to leave the city and become a farmer. To ameliorate this problem, the government has established traini ng schools through the program Misin Vuelvan Caras where partic ipants are given scholarships of US $150 a month (Chacn 2004) However, the cooperatives created as a result of Vuelvan Caras have experienced difficulties in becoming sus tainable. In some cases ghost cooperatives have been created by individuals attempting to take advantage of the government cash transfer programs and access to credit. They are considered ghost cooperatives since they exist only on paper, are not productive, and have no intentions of paying back obtained credits (Rojas, 2006). Government Misiones This section deals with one of the most successful government social programs in improving the living conditions of the majority of the Venezuelan population, the misiones. Whil e they were not originally a policy of the Chvez government, since 2003 they have transformed Venezuela. This section discusses their origin, diversity, achievements, and some of the problems characterizing these programs.


84 After the first three years unde r the Chvez government and the enactment of the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, the country had experienced few tangible social changes The socio -political arena had been consumed by political manifestations, strikes, and marches Despite an a rray of progressive legislat ion including the 1999 constitution and the 49 laws which were enacted by decree in 2001, the government had not been able to improve social conditions As a re sult of the 2002 coup and the oil strike, Venezuela n p overty rates h ad increased and the country experienced negative economic growth. Official poverty reached a zenith in 2003 when the national poverty rate of individuals increased from 54.4% in 1997 to 62.1% in 2003. Critical poverty also increased from 23.4 % in 1997 to 29.8% in 2003 (INE 2009) The increase in poverty during Chvezs first years in office led some lifelong leftists to criticize Chvez for his governments inability to bring about a progressive change and improve social indicators (Saez, 2003) In 2003 the government began aggressively implementing its policies through the misiones. Under the first wave of misiones, launched at the end of 2003, the government attempted to address most social problems. Among the m ain policy areas addressed by the misiones were education, healthcare, identification cards food availability electoral participation the environment indigenous rights, land reform, rural development, science, socioeconomic development and the milita ry. While some misiones were specifically created to address rural problems, among them Misin Zamora, Misin Vuelvan Caras, Misin Vuelta al Campo and Misin rbol, the great majority of the misiones have direct repercussions in rural development. There h ave been a total of 30 misiones, of which 27 are currently active. All the misiones promote the social transformation of Venezuela into a socialist country (CNTI, 2009)


85 The education misiones such as Sucre, Ribas and Robinso n have provided campesinos with the opportunities to learn how to read, obtain a high school diploma, and even college d egree or graduate education. Misin Milagro, Misin Esperanza, Misin Jos Gregorio Hernndez, and Misin Barrio Adentro (I,II,III) have emphasized improving the health of the poorest sectors of society. Applauded by the World Health Organization [WHO] Misin Barrio Adentro has expanded from providing basic medical coverage to poor communities, to the creation of 417 Comprehensive Diagnos tic Centers [ CDI], and 576 Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers A child cardiology hospital with 142 hospital beds and 33 intensive care beds has also been created (Alvaradoa, Martnez, Viva, Gutirrez and Metzger, 2008; Kuiper, 2005) Cuban doctors have been instrumental in the success of the medical misiones. For Barrio Adentro alone, Cuba has provided over 15,000 doctors (WHO, 2006) Misin Che Guevara, Misin Vuelvan Caras and Misin 13 de Abril have focused on training for the creation and operation of cooperatives and communes. These misiones have as their objective reducing the traditional capitalist emphasis of the Venezuelan economy. Misin Vuelvan Caras led to the creation of the cooperatives which were later to form t he Fundos Zamoranos and NDE s. Misi n Vuelvan Caras was later replaced by Misin Che Guevara which focuses on educating and creating new men and women by instructing them with revolutionary and socialist principles (MPPComunas, 2008) Misin 13 de Abril is attempting to improve the quality of life of the population by establishing socialist communities and socialist cities with the goal of creating 181 Salas de Batalla Social (Rooms of Social Battle ) which link the community councils with government institutions in order to provide information to the government of what is needed in a particular community (CNTI, 2009)


86 Misin Zamora, Misin rbol, and Misin Vuelta al Campo attempt to improve rural conditions. Misin Zamora is charged with delivering the agrarian letters, credits, machinery, tractors and other inputs needed to bring about the integral development of agricultural production Misin rbol attempts to promote reforestation by aiming to plant 100 million plants and 150,000 hectares of land in five years Misin Vuelta al Campo no longer active, attempted to encourage city dwellers to return to the rural areas and be retrained as campesinos. All of these misiones fall under the broad um brella of Misin Cristo and the governments attempt to reduce poverty to zero and achieve the United Nations Millennium G oals by 2021. Some of these misiones have been very successful, and have made inroads toward the millennium goals. Among the achievem ents in only their first year, the misiones reduced illiteracy to 4 % established 163 Mercales, provided a high school education to 400,000 people, access to a university level education to 100,000 high school graduates, free medical assistance to 1.8 million people, and prevented as many as 1,700 deaths (Chacn 2004) In her analysis of the misiones, Chacn concluded that the se were important achievements particularly in health and education; however, she was wary of the level of improvisation and the lack of long term strategy in the various government programs. Since then, the misiones have continued to improve the living conditions of the poorest in Venezuela as well as raising hope among the population that they are capable of overcoming poverty and increasing their quality of life. The lev el of improvisation and ambitiou s goals of the programs ha ve continue to be criticized as well as the quality of service s provided (Globovision, 2007) While the government has create d new universities, medical centers, their employees and resources are not yet at the standard of the major universities or medical centers in Venezuela. The programs have also been criticized as a form of state clientelism. One of the government


87 cash tran sfer programs, Misin Ribas h as awarded thousands of student scholarships of a hundred dollars a month to obtain a high school diploma. Despite graduating 450,000 students by 2007, Misin Ribas has been criticized for indirectly encouraging scholarship rec ipients to vote in favor of the government (Orozco, 2006; Prensa Fundaci n Ribas, 2007; Ortega and Penfold Becerra, 2008) Directly and indirectly, most of the misiones have improved co nditions in the rural areas Despite their problems, they have address ed real needs of the campesinos, and may be a major factor in the continual electoral support for Chvezs political party in the rural areas of the country. Achievements of the 2001 Agrarian Reform Since the enactment of the 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development, the current agrarian reform has focused on distributing land to peasants and landless workers or landless campesino over the medium -size or large capitalist producer. Member s of the opposition blame the market s supply problem s on government regulations and the destabilization of the private sector while the government has blamed private producers of withholding food products from the market and illegally exporting their crops The production crisis and the government s attempt to solve it will be analyzed in the next section of th is chapter From available statistics of land redistribution, we can assess that the reform has been able to benefit a large number of campesino families and brought about a decrease in rural poverty. This section provides an overview of the increase in land distribution, the emphasis of the government in bringing about integral rural development policy, and the effects of the government policy in decreasing poverty and improving the living conditions o f the rural poor. During the first years of the agrarian reform (2001 to 2003), the redistribution of land proceeded slowly. I n order to accelerate the redistribution of land, Chvez placed his brother


88 Adn Chvez in charge of INTI from 2003 until 2005 whe n the position was taken over by Eleazar Otaiza .6 As the agency in charge of the registration and re distribution of land during the agrarian reform, INTI has been a pivotal institution within the Ministry of Agriculture. Table 3 3 shows the number of hecta res redistributed yearly by INTI from 2003 until February 2007. According to the table, INTI has continued to re distribute large quantities of hectares through the last few years. Since 2003, INTI has been very successful in distributing land to previously disfranchised campesinos. Under Adns leadership, INTI distributed 1.5 million hectares in only a year (Wilpert, 2006). Most of the land originally distributed had been government owned. After a decrease in regularization on 2005, 2006 shows a strengthe ning of land redistribution. Since then, the program has expanded and according to INTIs 2007 report, shown summarized in Table 3 4 as of February 22, 2007 INTI had distributed 3,626,713 hectares to 80,576 production units. According to a MPPAT (2008) p ublication, by 2008 INTI ha d issued over twenty thousand more documents of production rights and redistributed another million hectares bringing the total to 4,624,420 hectares and 105,922 documents of production rights (MPPAT, 2008) With an average of 11.5 hectares per family, the reform may have distributed land to over 4 00,000 families. In comparison to the estimates of the beneficiaries of the previous agrarian reform (anywhere from 90,000 to 200,000 families ) the current agrarian reform may have already distributed land rights to a large r number of families than the 1960 agrarian reform. 6 Similar to the relationship between Fidel Castro and Raul Castro, Adn Chvez was a member of Movimiento al Socialismo [MAS] and other leftist political groups before Hugo Chvez entered the political arena. Adn has since served in various important roles within the Hugo Chvez administration including serving as ambass ador to Cuba, Secretary to the Presidency, and Minister of Education.


89 While the Chvez government has distributed lands at a rapid rate, it is likely that redistribution of land will decrease as available land diminishes and the reform shifts emphasis towards providing technical and financial support to the recently organized production units. Other institutions such as the CVA, INDER, INIA and CIARA will increasingly play a greater ro le in the agrarian reform. With a strong interest in decreasing rural poverty, improving living conditions of the campesino and bringing about an integral rural development, the government has made a strong financial and technical commitment to the agraria n reform. According to the Zamorano National Development Project (20072008), the government provided close to US $ 4.9 billion in direct investment to crop, animal, fisheries and forestry between 2002 and 2007 (INTI, 2007) The high level of investment has brought about important achievements such as the creation of 88 communal banks under FONDAS with an investment of US $79.7 million, the awarding of 8,373 credits for the production of rice, corn and sorghum, and the regis try of 6,405 fishermen in 81 different communities around the country. The BAV has financed the acquisition of 596, 503 chickens and 62,750 heads of cattle as well as provid ed US $ 430.5 mi llion in credit to 6,960 production units at an interest rate of 3 or 4 % (MPPAT, 2008) From 2002 to 2008, the investm ent on the agrarian reform and rural development has been substantial This considerable investment has provided employment and land to previously impoverished landless peasants It has provided a large number of familie s with hope that they can succeed and bring themselves out of poverty as well as provided them with the financial, technical and educational tools to bring themselves out of poverty. The government is attempting t o reduce the countries food import dependence by teaching campesinos and unemployed workers how to farm.


90 Social conditions in Venezuela have improved for the general population particularly after 2003 with the implementation of the government misiones. Gen eral national statistics published by the Venezuelan government and corroborated by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America [ CEPAL] show that the Human Development Index [HDI] for Venezuela has increased from a medium level of development at .69 in 1998 to .84 in 2008. In addition, according to the Institute of National Statistics [INE] there has been a sharp decrease in poverty in recent years going from 62.1% of the population during 2003 to 31.5% by 2008 (INE, 2009) It is not possible to currently evaluate the impact of the agrarian reform on reducing land inequality. During 2008, the Venezuelan government conducted an agrarian census which is yet to be published (MPPAT, 2009) This report will likely signal a substantial improvement in land redistribution. Besides the redistribution of land, the success of an agrarian reform also has to be measured by its effect on agr icultural production and whether this increase in production has spilled over to benefit the rest of the rural and national population. So far, the effects of the agrarian reform in agricultural production are controversial. Also, the sustainability of the reform is related to the level of government investment an d the administrations political will. As long as the government continues to benefit from a large influx of oil revenues the government will continue to be able to invest heavily in rural development. The agrarian reform is in its initial stages and most of these projects are not yet sustainable; their success will require sustained government commitment and a constant improvement of planning and execution. 2001 Special Law of Cooperatives Unlike the previous agrarian reform, the current agrarian reform ha s focused on increasing the production of the small farmer and the new agrarian reform units by promoting the development of agrarian cooperatives. While the previous reform enacted laws to aid the organization of cooperatives, the current agrarian reform has moved beyond the regulation of


91 cooperatives, to their promotion through the Bolivarian Constitution, the enactment of laws, and the creation of social programs such as Misin Vuelvan Caras. Cooperatives have experienced an exponential growth during rec ent years and are a primary focus of the current agrarian reform. This section provides an overview of the rising emphasis on the development of cooperatives by the Chvez administration, its results, and some of the problems that have originated as a resu lt of the rapid growth in the formation of cooperatives. The Hugo Chvez administration promoted cooperatives through articles 3, 70, 117, 118, 184, 299 and 308 of the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela. In these articles, cooperatives are viewed as communitarian enterprise s established under the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity. Article 118 promotes cooperatives as a way to improve the popular and alternative economy. Article 308 guarantees the provision of technical assistance, financing and training for the creation of cooperatives. Cooperatives are seen by the government as a way to move away from an individualistic and mercantilist economy, to diminish unemployment and to decrease income inequality. An initial goal of the government wa s to promote cooperatives in order to reduce unemployment from 16 % to less than 10 % (Celis, 2004) Since then, the government has been very successful in increasing the number of cooperatives which have grown from 762 registere d cooperatives in 1998, to 8,000 by 2003. In 2006, SUNACOOP reported having registered 108,000 cooperatives (Bowman and Stone, 2005) Table 3 5 shows this exponential growth According to SUNACOOP, the organization in charge of administering cooperatives agr icultural cooperatives grew from only 8 % of the total number of cooperatives in 1997, to forming 30 % of all cooperatives by 2005 (Rojas, 2006)


92 The government promoted the rapid development of cooperatives through a government program known as Vuelvan Caras. Through this misin, the government retrained unemployed workers in a marketable skill. As mentioned earlier, this misin was pivotal in the formation of the Fundos Zamoranos. While the government has awarded documents of productions rights to indep endent producers, the government has favored redistributing land to cooperatives as it believes cooperatives to serve a superior social function (Minguet, 2003; Garcia Muller and Quintero, 2007) Unfortunately some cooperatives have faced serious problems Cooperatives have multiplied in numbers, yet membership data highlights a decrease in the average number of members per cooperative As shown in Table 3 6 the average cooperative in 1997 had a membership of 263, while by 2005 average membership had dimi nished to 10 members per cooperative. In the agricultural sector, cooperative membership has diminished from an average of 82 members per cooperative in 1997 to 10 members per cooperative in 2005. The government has provided cooperatives with credits and g iven some cooperatives, such as textiles, the opportunity to produce clothing for government events (Bikel, 2008) Yet s ome of these cooperatives have mismanaged their credit and are overly reliant on government contracts for their survival .7 The lack of accountability has led to the development of ghost cooperatives or cooperatives that obtain government credits and are reported to be active despite being unproductive. Cooperatives have also faced difficulties in decision making. Not used to taking decision s collectively, members have difficulties in reaching agreements and developing under a 7 In other to be economically viable, the cooperatives must either obtain enough contracts from the state or obtain a mixture of private and state contracts. According to Bikel (2008), cooperatives have not received a large number of private contracts, and state contracts are not sufficient to meet the economic needs of some cooperatives.


93 consensus (Garcia and Higuerey, 2005; Rojas, 2006) Notwithstanding its efforts, the government has experienced difficulties in changing the traditionally individualistic culture of the people (Osta, Mendoza, and Giraldo, 2005) The cooperatives have generated employment and together with cas h transfer programs have helped improve the economic conditions of the lowest social strata bringing about decreases in poverty and improvements in the HDI (INE, 2009). The government has invested substantial revenues in the promotion of cooperatives and besides employment has retrained a segment of the population. Unfortunately, many of these cooperatives are not economical sustainable and are reliant on the government redistribution of oil revenues. Until these cooperatives are economically self relian t the achievements of the current wave of cooperatization could be short lived. Production Crisis -Shortage of Agrarian Goods? The 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development as previous agrarian laws is attempting to increase food self -sufficiency. To achieve this end, the Venezuelan government has invested heavily in agriculture. Unfortunately, despite the level of investment, production has been erratic and Venezuela currently imports around 70 % of its food stuffs including some of the main staples of the Venezuelan diet (Becker, 2003) Notwithstanding an increase of 728% in agrarian financing, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, the growth in economic production between 2004 and 2007 was only of 3.4% while the aggre gate growth of the value of agricultural production was 0. 2 % (Salmeron, 2008; Tovar, 2008) In 2007, the country began to experience a shortage of major food items in groceries and multi -purpose stores (Larsen, 2009) The scarcity of food included the most basic food items including eggs and milk. According to a survey by Alfred Keller and Associates, in 2008, 77% of Venezuelans believed the scarcity of goods to had worsened (El Universal 2008) As the food


94 scarcity conditions worsened, the situation became politiciz ed and both the government and opposition leaders blamed each other. To the government and President Hugo Chvez a major producers union, FEDECAMARAS is responsible for withholding and trafficking agr icultural resources and being part of the problem and not of the solution (Hinds, 2008) In response, FEDECAMARAS and other non -governmental organizations pointed to the negative influence land expropriation was having on private production and the superior efficiency of private producers compared with agrarian cooperatives (Uribe, 2008; Fedecamaras, 2008) According to FEDECAMARAS, 70 % of food products were produced by the private sector The governments policies, incl uding condoning invasions and crime, had promoted a sense of fear and insecurity for private producers who were now more wary of increasing their agricultural investments (Fedecamaras, 2008) The governments outcome in increa sing agricultural production has been mixed. Production in various rubrics has stagnated while some significant crops have experienced an increase. As shown in Table 3 7 production of garlic, tomatoes, carrots and the sum of other vegetable crops has decr eased from 2000 to 2005. Venezuela continuously expanded its cereal production until 2004, which plays the most important role in terms of food supply (Soto, 2006). It is too early to conclude whether the reform will lead to a growth in aggregate productio n values. When comparing the assistance given to the agrarian sector over the last forty years, the Chvez administration has invested heavily in rural development. The level of credit awarded for agricultural production increased from 645,288 million Boli vars in 1997 to 4,483,977 million Bolivars on 2005 (Soto, 2006) Yet the increases in production remain marginal.


95 To reduce the withholding of food products from the market, the government has expropriated processing plants and other food related industries. In March 2009, Chvez expropriated Cargill rice processing plants in Venezuela to recover tons of food products that were being stockpiled inside the plants storage units (Larsen, 2009) The government beli eves that by reducing sabotage by private food producers and corruption, the country will be able to reduce food scarcity problems. To private producers, the negative effects of price controls, fears of expropriation, and the shortage of agricultural worke rs has led to the reduction in the growth of the private food production which continues to account for the majority o f domestic agricultural production In addition, a shortage of labor is associated with the government cash transfer programs as many ca mpesinos are unwilling to work as farm hands for salaries which are lower or slightly higher than what they can obtain as a result of government scholarships (Clavier, 2008; Hernandez 2008) Many a gricultural workers are attempting to either obtain their own land or obtain an income from cash transfer programs such as training scholarships, increasing their unwillingness to work for private producers especially under their previous salary arrangements this has negatively affect ed the production possibili ties of private producers. The debate over the effects of the agrarian reform over production levels continues to be debated, primarily along partisan lines. Whether or not the government policies have negatively affected the private sector, it is understa ndable to expect the agricultural production of the newly consolidated agricultural production units to take years in consolidating and bring ing about substantial increases in production. Attempting to bring about a social revolution and change the capitalist mentality of Venezuelans, the effects of the government social policies in forming a socialist society may take decades to bear fruit. It takes time to create a cooperative mentality


9 6 among the campesinos, teaching them how to run a mechanized farm and to build the basic infrastructure needed for sustainable development, a s well as reforming and adapting institutions to effectively administer the agrarian reform. Mercal and Pdval Faced with a supply crisis, the Chvez administration has responded by creating two different food distribution programs known as Mercal and Pdval. These two programs distribute food at regulated prices in the shanty towns and poor neighborhoods. Pdval has recently opened 342 different stations in shanty towns and plans to i nstall over 1, 800 by the end of 2008 (Hernandez, 2008) These markets provide access to goods that are currently absent from private stores or are sold at higher price s in the private market. While these programs have alleviated some of the short term defi cits in food products, they also generate market imperfections and fuel fears of further controls and regulations by the government. Pdval is primarily financed by the oil company Pdvsa which has redistributed oil revenues through a number of social progr ams. Between 2006 and 2007, Pdvsa dedicated US $13 billion to social programs and helped diminish illiteracy, poverty, and other social cr ises through the government misiones (Ellsworth, 2008; Parraga and Puntes, 2008) Critics argue this redistribution ha s damaged the competitiveness of the Venezuela oil industry as it is not substantially reinvesting or expanding its operations. Pdvsa is in charge of running Misin Ribas, and they also transfer funds to Misin Barrio Adentro, Misin Milagro, Misin Robins on, Misin Sucre, among others ( El Universal 2008) In a recent Alo Presidente!, Chvez stated that Mercal has a strong food subsidy benefiting ten million people with an investment of US $10 billion (El Universal 2008) Mercal has continuously increased its reach, in 2008, 62.9% of Venezuelan households shopped at a Mercal. Products are provided at 52 % below regulated prices and 72% in relation to the market.


97 By 2008, Mercal had distributed over 6 million tons of food products improving the living conditions of the majority of the population (Mena, 2009) While Mercal has provided goods at lower prices, the products sold by them with the highest popular demand are often sold out within a day or two after receiving a new shipment. Mercal originally relied primarily on the sale of national products, however, its imports of food products has grown. While in 2006 Mercal imported 34% of its products and 66% were national purchases, by the end of 2007, the great majority were imported, importing 70% while buying 30% of its product s from local markets (El Universal 2008) Mercal has also experienced some cases of corruption and in 2007 alone there were over 397 cases of corruption, representing a rise of over 51% from the previous year (El Universal 2008) Other government initiatives include the Catt le Plan, which intends to create livestock cooperativ es and with government assistance, reach self -s ufficiency in beef and milk by 2012 (El Universal 2008) Another government initiative is to build enough processing plants to cover local consumption and produce over 100 thousand tons of black be ans sufficient to also begin exporting by 2012 (El Universal 2008) Despite previously criticizing Brazil and the United States for producing ethanol and worsening the food crisis, the government has even began to construct five different ethanol production plants in Cojedes, Trujillo, Portuguesa, Barinas and Monagas (Poliszuk, 2008) Mercals and Pdvals have increasingly provided food for a larger number of Venezuelan and have been extended to the farthest areas of the countryside. Providing food at prices lower than the regulated prices set by the government, Mercals and Pdvals serve as a major income d istribution program in Venezuela, increasing the availability of food for the poorest families, including the campesinos. These programs are overly reliant on food imports. However, as


98 agricultural production increases, particularly from agricultural produ ction units, including the Fundos Zamoranos, Mercals and Pdvals may eliminate the traditionally profit based food market. Violence as a R esult of the Agrarian Reform One of the most regrettable aspects of the agrarian reform has been the level of polarizat ion, fragmentation and violence it has generated. This social polarization has led to the militarization of certain aspects of the agrarian reform, including the Vuelvan Caras Lanceros, and the militarization of large land owners Having been attacked by s ome wealthy land owners, groups of campesinos are ready, if necessary, to defend their land, their homes, and the revolution through the use of force and violence. According to Braulio Alvarez, a member of the National A ssembly and leader of the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant Front, in the last three years, around 150 rural leaders have been assassinated (Wilpert 2006). While the agrarian reform negatively affect s only a small landowning class, the largest land owners represent a very powerful group within the V enezuelan ruling class. A number of the largest land owners are absentee proprietors who enjoy the revenues generated through the toils of their workers while living in the cities. Some landlords have resorted to hiring members of gangs or assassins, also known as sicarios to murder someone and the gang members often subsequently disappear into Colombia. Braulio Alvarez himself has been the target of an assassination attempt. According to the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant Front (FNCEZ), two days after the atte mpt on Alvarezs life, a six member family in Apure were not only murdered and riddled with bullets but their bodies were also set on fire (Ramachandran, 2006) The government has acted politically against the assassinations, by strengthening the revolution and increasing the scope of the land reform. There has been a rise in kidnappings of land owners in recent years, especially across the border with Colombia ; however, these criminal acts do not appear to be linked directly to the


99 government. Nevertheless, the government has done little to increase rural security for the private land owner. In the case of the campesino, the president has vocally stated on natio nal television the need for the peasantry to arm and defend himself and his property. The disparity of wealth and class differences in the rural areas has led to an intensification of the conflict. Various groups supporting the agrarian reform ask for its strengthening or radicalization, a re volution within the revolution. Primarily as a result of the retention of employees who were hired by previous governments, t he campesinos do not trust some of the government organizations, especially local branches o f government ministries as they believe these have disguised counterrevolutionaries i n their ranks (Woods, 2005) Opposition governors have used their police forces to defend land owners against expropriation. According to Wood s (2005: 4), The Venezuelan Peasant Congress reported that in a particular case in Barinas: "At the end of October 2003, 120 policemen helped the large land owners destroy a school on the occupied land as well as giving the land owner 240,000 pounds of co rn produced by peasants" (Woods, 2005) Chvezs Law of Land and Agrarian Development, along with other controversial laws, were a main motivation behind the 2002 coup attempt and the 2003 strike of the oil industry (Wilpert 2006). A president of the ranc h owners association equated elimination of private property rights in Venezuela to the elimination of peace in Venezuela (Martin, 2005) After the coup of 2003, the Land Law was one of the first pieces of legislation that was annulled by the temporar y government of Pedro Carmona. T his act was, of course, invalidated when Chvez returned to office. Discussion and Analysis T he literature on the current agrarian reform suggests positive yet unconsolidated results from the agrarian reform d uring the past seven years. One of its notable achievements is the redistribution of millions of hectares The number of families who have benefited is greater than

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100 the total number of families who benefited from the previous agrarian reform efforts Usufruct rights to the land have been conferred to over 4 million hectares benefiting over 400,000 families. While there were only 762 c ooperatives in Venezuela in 1998, there are over 108,000 registered cooperatives today, and over 30 % of them are related to agriculture (Rojas, 2006) Some of these cooperatives such as the Berbere Cooperative are run largely by previously landless farmers (Woods, 2005) Mercal through a network of thousands of subsidized marke ts now provides basic commodities to 62.9% of consumers. In addition, the intensification of social reforms could lead other sectors besides agriculture to become further collectivized. Peter Rosset sees the current transition in Venezuela as a turning p oint in history that could serve as an example to other Latin American nations and increase the movement for peasant land rights and agrarian self -sufficiency. The goals of the Venezuelan agrarian reform are to destroy the latifundio, reach food self -suffi ciency and protect the environment. If the country achieves these goals, DeLong (2005) considers that the Venezuelan agrarian reform will have succeeded where as many others failed. A successful agrarian reform in Venezuela will be a boost to international social movements such as La Va Campesina bring ing momentum for social change and spurring reforms in Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and other Latin American countries facing similar difficulties. The recent agreement signed during the 2004 World Social Forum between the MST, the Venezuelan government and La Va Campesina serves as an example of the future changes and cooperation to come. Wilpert (2006) suggests five problems that are causing frustration and hindering the reform process in Venezuela. T he legal framework, the general insecurity, weak peasant organization, poor infrastructure, and economic problems are slowing down and hindering reform efforts. Due to these and other problems, the outlook for the agrarian reform is unclear However, agrarian

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101 reforms have been successful in both socialist and capitalist countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Cuba. Venezuela can serve as another example of improved living conditions for the campesino if these proble ms are solved. When running for office, Chvez promised his supporters land and hope, and after ten years in office, the government has been able to bring forth a comprehensive land reform which focuses on the minifundista or landless campesino over the m edium -size capitalist producer However, t o increase sustainability, it is necessary to complement the agrarian reform with social programs that can increase knowledge of crop cultivation and markets, among other changes. Another challenge for the Venezue lan agrarian reform will be the need to solidify its base Having started as a top -dow n government program, grass root s organizations have only recently been created under the Misiones, the Circulos Bolivarianos and Consejos Communales (Arenas and Calcao, 2004) In contrast with the situation in Brazil, Venezuelan grassroots organizations are not as organized as the MST (Wilpert, 2006) During Chvez s time in office, oil prices rose from US $ 18 to US $ 116 a barrel (, 2008) The rise in oil prices generated the government revenues for social redistribution programs. Oil revenues currently account for 94% of the foreign exchange earned by Venezuela (El Universal 2008) H owever, this has also increased dependence on cheaper food imports. La Va Campesina has proposed that the government phase out food imports at a rate of 5.1 % per year. The government has tried to end dependence and develop the agr icultural sector. However despite substantial investment, f rom 1998 to 2008, the value of imports by Venezuela increased by 123 % (El Universal 2008) The current supply crisis has brought a strengthened opposition to the agrarian reform.

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102 As the government continues to invest billions of dollars in agricultural and rural development, it will be interesting to see whether these changes will be sustainable or whether the Venezuelan economy remains dependent on oil revenues. Recent data shows improvemen ts in Venezuelas socio -economic conditions improving the living conditions for the campesinos. Following a socialist model, the government has increased its involvement in the economy through the nationalization of industries, promotion of socialist ente rprises, cooperatives, and the expansion of the government bureaucracy Moving away from the neo-liberal policies from the 1990s and moving towards a greater role of the state in the economy, i t is difficult to assess if the government whether the new economic policies will produce positive or negative results in the long run. In addition, the current social programs and investment of the government in the agrarian reform will be highly impacted as a result of changes in the internationa l prices for oil.

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103 Table 3 1 Classification of Land According to Use Use Classes Agr iculture I, II, III, IV Pasture V, VI Forest VII, VIII Conservation, Ecology, and Protection of the Environment IX Agro tourism X Source: Law of Lands and Agrarian Development 2001 Article 104 Table 3 2 Fundos Zamoranos by State 2007 State # Total Has. Has. per Fundo # of Coop. Average Has. # of Members Mem. per Coop. # of Families Amazonas 1 6,988.0 6,988.0 0 69 69 Anzotegui 5 2,431.2 486.2 9 270.1 197 22 197 Apure 6 53,601.7 8,933.62 40 1,340.0 553 14 546 Aragua 8 11,864.2 1,483.0 47 252.4 545 12 1,002 Barinas 3 3,175.6 1,058.5 12 264.6 235 20 235 Bolivar 7 183,205.7 26,172.3 7 26,172.3 270 39 240 Carabobo 2 4,183.6 2,091.8 8 523.0 198 25 198 Cojedes 6 74,338.8 12,389.8 92 808.0 973 11 887 Delta Amacuro 2 101.1 50.6 2 50.6 21 11 21 Gurico 5 28,273.6 5,654.7 36 785.4 367 10 352 Lara 4 3,223.7 805.9 24 134.3 437 18 351 Merida 5 2,433.3 486.7 7 347.6 274 39 268 Miranda 5 2,911.2 582.2 27 107.8 249 9 163 Monagas 2 8,493.0 4,246.5 36 235.9 653 18 653 Portuguesa 4 3,366.8 841.7 18 187.0 211 12 209 Sucre 2 203.7 101.9 2 101.9 57 29 56 Tchira 2 876.3 438.1 5 175.3 93 19 93 Trujillo 2 586.7 293.4 2 293.4 139 70 129 Vargas 1 665.1 665.1 1 665.1 20 20 18 Yaracuy 7 4,851.0 693.0 61 79.5 839 14 765 Zulia 6 2,655.4 442.6 9 295.0 172 19 159 Total 85 398,429.6 4,687.4 445 895.4 6,374 14 6,611 Source: INTI ( 2007 )

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104 Table 3 3 Total Land Regularization s by Year (2003 2007) Year Units Hectares 2003 46,758 1,559,282 2004 18,745 987,964 2005 3,780 305,984 2006 10,658 750,734 2007* 635 22,750 Total 80,576 3,626,714 Note: By February 21, 2007 ; Source: INTI ( 2007 ) Table 3 4 Land Regularization by Process (2003 2007) Process Units Hectares Average Hectares Agrarian Letter 75,171 3,406,159 45.3 Declaration of Permanence 4,704 181,307 38.5 Adjudication Title 701 39,247 56.0 Total 80,576 3,626,713 45.0 Source: INTI ( 2007 ) Table 3 5 Cooperative Associations by Economic Activity (1997, 2001, 2005) Activities 1997 % 2001 % 2005 % Rate of Growth (1997 2005) Savings and Credit 248 32% 240 18% 452 1% 82% Agricultural Production 63 8% 180 13% 20,051 30% 31,727% Mining Production 12 2% 7 1% 147 0% 1,125% Gas Commercialization 1 0% 2 0% 108 0% ---Housing 15 2% 40 3% 475 1% 3,067% Funeral Homes 15 2% 33 2% 95 0% ---Health 3 0% 4 0% 396 1% 13,100% Technical Services 10 1% N/D ----N/D -------Production of Goods 15 2% 118 9% 2,072 3% 13,173% Production of Services 35 5% 144 11% 35,287 53% 100,720% Consumption 49 6% 112 8% 1,027 2% 1,996% Transport of Passengers 170 22% 328 25% 4,855 7% 2,756% Transport of Cargo 56 7% 121 9% 1,114 2% 1,889% Crafts 4 1% 5 0% 601 1% 14,925% Other Activities 70 9% 2 0% N/D -------Total 766 100% 1,336 100% 66,680 100% 8.61% Source: Rojas ( 2006 )

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105 Table 3 6 Average Number of Associates by Year (1997, 2001, 2005) Activities 1997 2001 2005 Rate of Growth (19972005) Savings and Credit 662 504 18 97% Agricultural Production 82 26 10 88% Mining Production 74 67 10 87% Gas Commercialization N/D 8 9 ---Housing 180 86 16 91% Funeral Homes N/D 1,449 7 ---Health 309 31 8 97% Technical Services 54 N/D N/D ----Production of Goods 44 42 13 72% Production of Services 21 68 9 57% Consumption 252 114 8 97% Transport of Passengers 55 30 12 79% Transport of Cargo 35 26 9 74% Crafts 50 11 13 74% Other Activities 25 42 N/D ----Total 263 163 10 96% Source: Rojas ( 2006 ) Table 3 7 Production in Venezuela 2000 2005 Crop 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Vegetables Garlic 11,316 11,216 10,319 9,384 9,918 9,800 Onion 175,228 235,999 276,687 276,040 248,802 240,000 Lettuce 27,730 29,921 27,853 28,736 30,709 31,000 Tomato 213,064 181,697 196,964 180,609 183,707 195,000 Carrots 184,424 177,642 184,592 199,426 188,712 185,000 Total* 914,466 985,343 1,035,402 1,024,075 997,215 875,300 Fruits Bananas 763,635 735,079 590,847 559,760 549,628 520,000 Plantain 683,979 766,704 460,880 438,875 428,450 430,000 Orange 496,768 456,495 341,645 333,272 384,264 370,000 Pineapple 351,078 300,090 347,297 340,221 317,152 320,000 Mango 130,262 74,982 73,558 68,664 65,147 68,000 Melon 113,011 130,765 181,645 228,516 200,192 200,000 Total* 3,253,506 3,248,915 2,877,511 2,721,494 2,462,310 Cereals Corn 1,689,551 1,801,061 1,392,029 1,823,237 2,068,465 2,050,000 Rice 676,775 742,936 668,164 969,733 989,478 950,000 Sorghum 466,471 508,652 599,652 612,450 565,000 Sugar 8,831,523 8,852,621 8,525,815 8,865,082 9,832,005 8,800,000 Total* 11,197,849 11,863,089 11,094,660 12,257,704 13,502,398 12,365,000 Note: Includes other crops ; Source: Soto ( 2006 )

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106 CHAPTER 4 CASE STUDY: FUNDO ZAMORANO ALEJANDRO DE HUMBOLDT Overview and Methodology With the election of President Chvez and the enactment of extensive social policies, the state of Mon agas has promoted rural and agricultural development through a series of initiatives including the creation of five NDE and two Fundos Zamoranos While F undos Zamoranos usually differ in land area and emphasis throughout the country, all Fundo s Zamoranos share a co mmon cooperative and associativ e organization and a similar relationship to the government. Despite the specific history behind the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt, the study of its organization, phases of development and relationship with the government are congruent with the expe riences of other fundos throughout the country. Using a grounded theory approach, this chapter provides insight into the recent changes taking place on the F undos Zamoranos in the state of Monagas and how these changes have benefited the campesino Since t here are few documented case studies about the Fundos Zamoranos, this chapter fills an important gap in the literature of a grarian re form in Latin American and Venezuela. Studies such as Wilperts (2006 ) and Sotos (2006) have provided overviews of the cur rent agrarian reform at the national level. However, there are no studies b ased on participant observation and independent studies about what is happening on the ground. I chose the state of Monagas and in particular the Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt because of prior contacts with farmers in Monagas made t hrough my extended family in the state. Through snowball sampling I interviewed other private farmers in the state of Monagas and was admitted as a visitor at the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. After an extensive review of the literature which included the previous agrarian reforms in Latin America, the 1960 Venezuelan agrarian reform, as well as newspaper, press releases and available documentation

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107 dealing with the current changes taking place in Vene zuela, I generated a basic set of questions that I utilized for my subsequent interviews. Through the interviews, I was able to uncover the changes taking place at the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt, the campesinos most pressing concerns and the re sults of the Venezuelans government effort to promote development in rural Monagas. For a theoretical framework I followed Corbin and Strausss grounded theory (Corbin and Strauss, 1990) Through my interviews and by sharing, eating, working, hunting and celebrating with the workers I documented the experiences of the campesinos and gained some insights on what the fundo must improve in order to become an economically productive agricultu ral unit following a cooperative organizational model of production. My original intent was to spend six week s at the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. Regrettably, unforeseen circumstances limited the length of the research. The currently strained re lationship between the Venezuelan and United States government s generates hurdles to researchers studying the current changes taking place in Venezuela. Being a native Venezuelan, but coming from a United States educational institution, it was difficult fo r government supporters to understand my interest in studying the agrarian reform and agrarian production cooperatives in Venezuela. In addition, local campesinos are distrustful of outsiders and strangers, including government personnel. It was difficult to access the fundo without clear progovernment credentials. During my stay in the fundo, I was asked questions related to my political opinion s As a researcher I remained apolitical, yet my decision to not elaborate on my political views fomented furthe r reservations among cooperative members. My case study is based on the observations and interviews carried out during the two noncon secutive weeks I lived in this F undo Z amorano. During this time, I discussed with

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108 cooperative members their views about the current agrarian reform, the cooperative movement, the f undos organization, problems, history, and production; and documented their living conditions. I stayed at eight different production units. I interviewed members of Lanceros Productivos, La Carcaj ada, Cruitupano, Salom Betania, Hidropnica Maturn Agrotcnica Ro Amana, Juan Dvila and Domingo Blas Poito. During my visit, I observed the routines and work organization of the production units and formally interviewed 19 members of the fundo during their non -working hours. After a few days o n the fundo, I learned from cooperative members that there had been two previous studies of the F undo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. One of the studies evaluated the sustainability of the harvest of sweet aji (chili) peppers on one of the cooperatives on the fundo, Lanceros Productivos. The other study was a survey conducted by Delia Gonzalez in which she asked the cooperative members questions regarding government assistance and their relationship with the go vernment. While her study has yet to be published, I was able to locate her and discuss her experience at the F undo Z amorano. Afterwards, I returned to the f undo to finish my ethnographic study of the fundo. Besides the data I gathered at the fundo, some g overnment officials, in particular the agronomists working at the INTI, were very helpful in providing access to a large amount of government documents. These documents permitted an analysis of the management, production plans, and assistance received by t he fundo.1 History of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humbold t At the beginning it was very difficult. We didnt have houses or support. Cars would sometimes come out and try to scare us It took longer than we expected. It was difficult but we managed. Th e troops kept us safe. They were stationed over there for a year (points towards the south) Since then, things have improved little by little We lost many 1 Relevant government documents that were utilized for this study as well as the questions that were utilized as a basis for the interviews can be found in the appendix (Annex 1).

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109 cooperative members through the years, but it was the effort of every one of us, that led us to be here today. Many good friends left because of family or economic reasons ... It was difficult to learn how to work together. We had too many people. Some did not know how difficult it was going to be. Now there are less (members) and the government has hel ped us. Things are difficult but they will get better. We are prepared. If they try to take our lands, we will fight (Tarek, 2008) With the enactment of the Law of Lands and Agrarian Development i n 2001, groups of campesinos without land were organiz ed into groups by the government and relocated into farms that were idle or under producing In 2002 t hrough the government program Misin Vuelvan Caras the government facilitated the creation of agrarian production cooperatives. According to the vocero, or spokesperson for the fundo, the members of the cooperatives selected five different landholdings which were viable targets for invading, and the subsequent creation of a F undo Z amorano and/or agrarian NDE Among the five origina lly selected landholdings which the INTI had declared idle and unproductive, the Vuelvan Caras cooperatives finally decide t o invade the lands of the farm La Argentina during the fall of 2003. Being located between two rivers and containing 5 213 hectares of medium quality land, production in this location seemed promising. Figure 4 1 shows the relative location of the Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt within the state of Monagas. According to the head of the cooperative Lanceros Productivos Simon Tarek, t he pre vious private owners, the Bermudez Association, were primarily absentee land owners who grazed a few heads of cattle on the over five thousand hectares of natural pastures.2 Since acquiring the land, the Bermudez Association had built a limited number of d irt roads. The land had not been plowed or prepared for agriculture. There were practically no fences or infrastructure. La Argentinas main source of income was the revenues collected from the government for having a 2 The names of those interviewed in the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt have been modified in order to protect the privacy of those interviewed.

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110 major power line passing through its property. This high tension powerline provides energy to the state of Monagas and parts of Anzotegui. Despite not using the land, the Be rmudez Association was unwilling to reach an agreement with the government. The Bermudez Association attempted to regain their lands through legal as well as confrontational actions against the cooperative members. Faced with constant intimidation and fe ar of an escalation of violence, the cooperative members asked the M PPAT and the governor for support. The local police did not support the campesinos The continuous harassment of the members of the fundo required an army battalion to be stationed for a y ear at La Argentina to protect them from violent attacks. Driving around in black vehicles at night, firing shots near the encampment of the campesinos the Bermudez Association attempted to instill fear into the campesinos and force them to retreat. While violence was limited at La Argentina the campesinos were aware of assassinations and disappearances of rural leaders and cooperative organizers in other parts of the country. In addition, d espite the cooperative complaints of harassment, the local police ignored the events taking place at La Argentina. Intimidation against the cooperative members eventually dwindled. In the courts, the Bermudez Associations title to the land was deemed invalid by the MPPAT. Besides not having a valid title, the Bermudez property was considered a latifundio for being over 5,000 hectares. T he Bermudez Association finally accepted in 2004 to reduce their holdings from the original 5 213 hectares to 382 hectares or 7.3 % of the original holdings. During my visit the Bermudez Association had built fences on their remaining hectares and planned on raising cattle, however, t hey had yet to bring cattle on to their land Between 2003 and 2005, the members of the F undo Z amorano faced their greatest difficulties. Eventually the cooperatives built temporary ho using where the members lived under m arginal conditions. During the initial year, the members

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111 depended on their personal savings a government scholarship and credit advances for subsistence. G overnment funding was unrelia ble during the first months at the fundo. The lack of funding and the difficult living conditions led to a decline in the number of cooper ative members. According to my interviews 5 of 12 individuals responding reported living conditions as the primary reason cooperative many of the original members had left the fundo (Table 4 1) Since 2005, assistance and living conditions have continuously improved at the fundo. After two years of existence, the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt was officially const ituted on June 5, 2005. On that date, the government legally recognized Alejandro de Humboldt as an agricultural production entity formed with the intention of increasing national agricultural production, food self -sufficiency and security under a cooperat ive and socialist structure of production (INTI, 2005) The fundo was originally composed of thirteen different production units. Since then, some units have been abandoned while others have been combined and new ones have bee n integrated into the fundo. Table 4 2 displays the or iginal composition of the fundo, the original land distribution of the fundo, the current status of those production units as well as which productive units were originated from Vuelvan Caras A ll cooperatives must be registered under SUNNACOP under a unique business name .3 All of the original thirteen production units of the fundo obtained their legal registry during 2005. While the fundo was officially formed in 2005, the final document was not em itted until 2006. After their long struggle, the production units were officially emitted Cartas Agrarias under which they were awarded usufruct rights to produce on the land that had been part of La Argentina. The Cartas Agrarias allow the campesinos to work the land for two years. Since the 3 Cooperatives th at use a name currently registered for another productive unit are given a number to differentiate t hem from other production units

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112 lands in which the government organized the Fundos Zamoranos are still in some instances in legal dispute, by creating the Cartas Agrarias, the government was able to bring the land under production while the case s await their day in court. Every two years a Carta Agraria must be renewed.4 After reaching an agreement with the Bermudez Association, the government could eventually issue a permanent title in favor of the members of the f undo Alejandro de Humboldt. Ten ancy of the land was a ma jor concern for members of the F undo Z amorano. Some of the members of the different production units felt the government retained the right to remove them if it deemed it necessary. Other members felt the land could not be taken aw ay by the government regardless of their reason. These members hoped that following an increase of stability and productivity o n the f undo, the government would award them a permanent right to the land. Goals and Objectives of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt The goal of all the F undos Z amoranos is to increase Venezuelas self -sufficiency in food production and bring about the development of rural communities as promoted by the 2001 Law of Land and Agrarian Development and articles 305 to 308 of the constitution U nlike the previous agrarian reform, the current agrarian reform focuses on improving the living conditions of the campesino These objectives are fu rther described in government documents including the 2005 production plan (INTI, 2005). Following the objectives of sustainability, protection of the environment, the creation of employment opportunities and contributing to national food 4 The lands where Alejandro de Humboldt is located are no longer in dispute. However, the production units at the fundo have not obtained a permanent title to the land and continue to produce under the Cartas Agrarias.

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113 security, the F undo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt crafted a three stage development project (INTI, 2005 ). During my visit, the f undo was completing the first stage In the first stage, from 2005 to 2008, by initially investing in crop production and infrastructure, the f undo was to attempt ing to become sustainable and provide for the sustenance of the families of its members. Following an initial emphasis on crop production, during its fourth to seventh year (2009 to 2013), the fundo is to move towards animal production, primarily cattle ranching, and continue to ex pand its crop production. Eventually, from the eighth to its fifteenth year, the fundo is to focus on expanding its crop and cattle production in order to fulfill Venezuelas development goal of attain ing agricultural self -sufficiency by 2021 (2014 to 2020) (INTI, 2005) While the development project for the fundo Aleja ndro de Humboldt is sketched out until 2020, cooperative members fear a change of administration or a decrease in oil prices which could compromise the fundos financial support and survival. Chvez has often stated the need for a long term development plan and has denoted 2021 as a benchmark year for the governments initiatives and development programs (includi ng meeting the UN Millennium Goals) The fundos long term development plans are intrinsically linked to continual government funding since the fundo requires substantial assistance. The Struggle against Capitalism and an Individualist Mentality One of the greatest changes brought about by the F undo Z amorano has been its emphasis o n cooperative wo rk and socialist principles. The movement away from current capitalistic Venezuelan values has been difficult. The Venezuelan government is attempting to create a new model of socialist development. During my stay, the members of the fundo emphasized that their story was an unrelenting fight against el neoliberalismo salvaje ( savage neoliberalism ) individualism, and the conspicuous consumption of capitalism. The ir objective was not only to

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114 become self -sustainable but also to provide an alternative to capitalist development while improving living conditions in rural areas. They visualized themselves as members of a broader movement, a movement for national development, a battalion of hope for the nation. They saw themselves as a vanguard, the banner holders of the revolution. To them, they were not simply farmers but soldiers and defenders of the Bolivarian Revolution. Their motivation to work and endure the diff icult conditions came from their passionate support for the current administration. According to the vocero, the spokesperson of the fundo, Chvez s socialism of the twenty first century includes the recreation of Che Guevaras new man, an emphasis on coo peration between members, and the creation of cooperatives of agrarian production. Through Misin Vuelvan Caras, participants learned how to work in agriculture under a cooperative system of production. Before joining Misin Vuelvan Caras many members of the cooperatives had no tradition of working in cooperatives. Fifteen of the 19 individuals surveyed or 78.9% had previous agricultural experience but none of them had previously owned a farm (Table 4 1) In six months the program taught th em the basi s of cooperative organization and large scale agr icultural p roduction. However, in contrast with the MST en camp ments in Brazil where camp discipline p repares individuals for living o n the land and results in close to 90% of membership retentio n rates after invading a property, at the conclusion of Vuelvan Caras, the newly founded cooperatives had classroom experience but no practice (Rosset, Patel, and Courville, 2006) While Table 4 2 and 4 3 indicates that most Misin Vuelvan Caras cooperativ es had survived by 2008, Vuelvan Caras cooperatives have encountered difficulties in retaining their members after inhabiting the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt This lack of cooperative experience is one of the major obstacles which the F undo Z amor ano attempts to overcome. Living under a democratic government with a sizable

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115 opposition movement ( fluctuating between 38 % in the 2000 presidential elections to 51% in the 2007 national referendum ), the Chvez administration has faced a variety of obstacles in implementing its socialist agenda. The dualism of the Venezuelan society has been a major constraint to Chvez s vision of a future socialist Venezuela.5 To address the difficulties in bringing about an ideological change, the vocero of the fundo has encouraged classes in cooperation and socialism for the members and the government technicians. He felt Vuelvan Caras had provided a basic understanding into cooperative organization. H owever continuous education and communication w ere necessary to fully break away from individualism. H e felt that most of the remaining cooperative members had learned through trial and error to work together and cooperate, while the government employees had not been trained extensively on cooperation and socialism and would benefit from ideological training. Organization of Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Unlike the majority of fundos which are only composed of cooperatives, t he Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt is composed of three different types of associations: civil associations, independent producer s, and cooperative associations, all of which form part of the F undo Z amorano and function under the supervision of the Comando Zamorano Of the three 5 Venezuela has reached a degree of polarization to where some fear the possible eruption of a civil war. Andres Oppenheimer, a well known journalist for the Mia mi Herald compared Venezuela to the feeling of siege in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, where every corner had a different figure of authority and ideology (Oppenheimer, 2005). During his visit, he witnessed how a Caracas city official utilized bulle t proof vehicles and an extensive security details. The conflict of ideas regarding economic and social structures permeates the government misiones. Venezuela is currently a divided society. The high level of inequities has generated gated communities and a rise in private security (Romero, 2002, Romero, Rujano, and Del Nogal, 2002). Venezuelan capitalistic consumerist mentality advocated during the Fourth Republic and the dependency on purchasing low cost imports as a result of booming oil prices has hindered a movement away from consumerism. Folk songs reiterate the farmers dream of owning his own plot of land and being his own master. At the Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt one can observe the difficulties the Venezuelan government is having in reorienting production towards cooperatives in a well entrenched individual driven capitalist society.

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116 different types of production units which make up the fundo, the majority of them are cooperative associations. The fundo has had 14 different cooperative associations, three civil associations and two independent producers. Civil associations are composed of producers or agronomist s who join together to produce o n a piece of land with an educational, religious, cultural, recreational or another non -profit objective For example, a civil association could develop an experimental agricultura l plot which the cooperatives can look to as a model or they could simply produce according to the governments recommendation but without having as an objective the generation of income They are not cooperatives in the sense that they have no economic objective and function only for the benefit of the community (Minguet, 2003) Independent producers are usually agronomists who as a private enterprise employ workers to bring a piece of land into production. Independent producer s have to p a y progressive income tax like other private businesses. While the independent producers are traditionally considered profit driven businesses, the independent producers that work within the fundo function similarly to cooperatives and have a ho rizontal distribution of income. Both the civil associations and the independent producers were aligned with the government rural development policy. Interestingly, both independent producers I visited did not pay a set wage to their workers. In fact, Carlos Rivera, who headed the Domingo Blas Poito production unit did not pay a wage to his employees but had promised the workers to split the earnings equally among them after the harvest while William Perez the head of Juan Dvila employ s his son, his neighbor, and tw o of his sons best friends. William Perez paid them a wage, yet the w orkers did not appear to work primarily for an income. Composed by a group of friends and working out of solidarity with the government, these independent p roducers functioned more like unofficial cooperatives th a n

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117 capitalist enterprises William Perez s neighbor Alfonso Tortosa was not working for financial gain but to get away from the city for a whil e, particularly o n the weekends and harvest season. The civil associations such as Ro Amana also displayed a community relationship between the producers and the workers. Luis Garcia one of the most active producers at Ro Amana would work as hard as or harder than the other workers and lived under similar conditions to them. As a result, it is important to remember that while conceptually different, all three types of production units in the fundo have an emphasis on the horizontal relationship between members and workers and all are very supportive of the government efforts towards further socializing the economy. Eight of the cooperatives in the fundo are composed of lanceros or graduates of Vuelvan Caras while five production units of nonlanceros were formed i ndependently from Vuelvan Caras As displayed on Figure 4 2 administrative ly all cooperatives in the fundo have an elected president and a treasurer. A ll of the cooperative s have also hired additional workers. Over seeing the cooperatives is the vocero who acts as the spokesperson for the fundo in general. The office of cooperative president and cooperative treasurer were created under cooperative bylaws. While the minimum requirements for cooperatives are set by the 2001 Special Law of Cooperatives Associations, to provide flexibility, cooperatives are allowed to generate their own bylaws in areas not covered by the Law of Cooperatives. During my visit, the head of the Comando Zamorano Arturo Pena had recently performed a survey of the production units. Among his questions to the cooperatives, was whether any of them had written their bylaws. While the cooperatives have improved their record keeping of economic expenditures, none of the cooperatives at Alejandro de Humboldt had written their own bylaws.

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118 Administratively, the producti on units meet weekly. T he president of each cooperative and a representative from the civil associations as well as any other member of the fundo that wished to attend mee t to discuss common issues facing the fundo and possible solutions to their problems. The Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt has not yet constructed a Casa Zamorana. While all of the production units of the fundo were expected to help each other, it was not until 2008 that the government attempted to furthe r integrate the fundo by promoting the consolidation of a second degree cooperative. In a communication of April 2008 between the CIARA offices in Caracas and Maturn the government advocated the election of a vocero or an individual in every fundo to act as a spokes person and com municate directly with the government in order to improve the understanding between the fundos and the needs of the campesinos with the government ( Annex 2 ). The office of the vocero has allowed the productive units of the fundo to meet direc tly with government officials in Caracas without going through the local branch of the M PPAT. Before this initiative, the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt had already elected a public representative who would later serve as the vocero Jos Gonzalez a cooperative member from La Carcajada Jos had no training as a farmer, but had been a major leader in organizing the cooperatives before the takeover of La Argentina H e had recently received leadership training in Cuba. The vocero not only meets with the head of the Comando Zamorano but also meets directly with the M inister of A griculture, Elias Jaua, and participates in conferences in Caracas between voceros of different F undos Z amoranos. Jos Gonzalez was proud to mention he had talked directly to Hugo Chvez on two occasions, including a short visit to the presidential palace Miraflores.

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119 Recently, the vocero and other leaders of the fundo are attempt ing to join the production units together under a c ooperative of the second degree. While the fundo in some aspects already functioned as a conglomerate of cooperatives, the fundo was yet to fully integrate in its decision making. Cooperatives were still responsible for their own credits and machinery. A l ack of further integration had generated problems which the members of the fundo were interested in reducing. This cooperative would be formed by the combination of civil associations and first degree cooperatives while excluding the independent producers. Besides being organized at a later date, the independent producers have a different ideological relationship towards hired laborers S ome cooperative members expressed dissatisfaction over the government s tolerance of independent producers rather than en couraging them to join a cooperative T he independent producers share equipment with the cooperatives and civil associations. While production units collaborate with each other, there was also conflict and strong disagreements between them. The presidents of most production units expressed dissatisfaction about the high level of infighting that occurred during the general assemblies. Damage done to borrowed equipment and lack of an effective means of communication further increased tension between producti ve units. Originally, the cooperatives did not need to hire workers, however as the number of cooperative member decreased, the cooperatives, along with civil associations and independent producers have hired workers In the cooperatives, close to half of the workforce are currently hired laborers. Lanceros Productivos and Salom de Betania had more hired workers than cooperative members. Currently, the majority of the current inhabitants of the fundo are hired workers. Civil associations and independent p roducers are composed primarily of hired workers. The common use of hired workers by cooperatives blurs the divisions between the civil

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120 associations, the independent producers and cooperatives. Civil associations functioned as non profit productive units. They hired workers for their agricultural production, but they were not focused on generating profit. T he earnings of the members and hired workers were low. While the relationship s in cooperatives should be more equal the private producers and civil associations had a relationship between producer and workers almost as e qual as the relationship between cooperative members. To a visitor, different types of production units are hard to differentiate between each other. Some of the hired workers were in terested in eventually becoming members of a cooperative, while others saw the work merely as an opportunity to earn a wage Hired workers were pleased to be there and would help beyond what was required of them. Some of the hired workers were sometimes wo rking for more than one production unit at the time. If work was s low within one production unit they might offer their assistance to another production unit gratuitously. Hired workers at Lanceros Productivos were paid adequately for their labor at a rate close to a hundred dollars per week in addition to room and board. Members of production units would also help out at other production units if the other production unit appeared unable to meet a deadline and the re w as not pressing a deadline in their own production unit.6 Distribution of Land within the Fundo The organization of the fundo has changed several times. Of the thirteen production units originally forming part of the fundo, eight production units were cooperatives members created under a government reeducation program which operated during 20042005 known as Misin Vuelvan Caras; three were cooperatives organized outside of the program Misin Vuelvan Caras 6 As a result of my short stay at the fundo, I was not able to find out if there were set rules regarding hired labour. It was apparent most of these workers were hi red independently by different production units and hired primarily

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121 The fundo also contained four civil associations and two independent producers. At the time of my visit, there were also two additional production units of independent producers who coordinated their use of input and machinery with the other production units in the fundo. The eight production units I st udied were among the most active ones. During my stay I lived with the product ion units Cruitupano, La Carcajada, Lanceros Productivos, Hidropnica Maturn, Salom Betania, Agrotcnica Ro Amana, Juan Dvila, and Domingo Blas Poito. Four of these were coop eratives which originated through Misin Vuelvan Caras. Among the four that did not form part of Misin Vuelvan Caras were a cooperative, an association, and two independent producers. Agrotcnica Ro Amana was an association composed of five producers and salaried workers. Juan Dvila and Domingo Blas Poito consisted of individual producers who produced on lands that had belonged to some of the original production units of the fundo that had to date failed to produce on their lands .7 Agrotcnica Ro Amana and Domingo Blas Poito had been awarded a Carta Agraria by the government, which provided for permanent rights to the land as long as it remained productive. Juan Dvila had been awarded a temporary right of production to the land or Prenda Agraria, which permitted production of the land until the collection of the harvest. This producer was seeking either a more permanent status on the fundo or the acquisition of land at a different location. The cooperatives Cruitupano, La Carcajada, Lanceros Productivos, Hidropnica Maturn and Salom Betania had experienced a decline in membership but had most of their land in production. T heir landholdings were smaller than those of the most unproductive units. Among the most productive cooperatives in the fundo, Lanceros Productivos, La Carcajada, Cruitupano, 7 The lands of Moriche III Milenio had been lent to independent producers after losing their lands due to inactivity

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122 Ro Amana, and Hidropnica Maturn had an average land holding of 173.5 hectares, and a combined holding of 867 hectares (Table 4 2) In addition, not included in the previous table, Juan Dvila possessed 100 hectares and Domingo Blas Poito possessed close to 130 h ectares which they had obtained recently from the government out of the lands previously held by currently inactive produ ction units Together the producers I visited accounted for only 1 097.4 hectares out of the 4 831.3 total hectares of the fundo. All of their hectares were in production or destined for production. In contrast other cooperatives such as Trabajo Agrario, Gente Productiva, Moriche III Milenio, Vencedores 543, and Viboral 2021 had an average of 455.6 hectares Some of these cooperatives had few or none of their hectares under production. The inactivity of some cooperatives kept the fundo from reaching a gre ater production level. Some of these lands had been given to production units such as Juan Dvila and Domingo Blas Poito as well as utilized by active cooperatives for planting 480 hectares of corn under the Plan Emergente yet most of the land of current ly inactive cooperatives remains unproductive. An annexed document at the end of the thesis documents a critical report from the agronomists at the INTI to the head of the institution regarding the idleness of the land awarded to some cooperatives by the g overnment during a survey on July, 2007 (Annex 3 ). The uneven land distribution in the fundo has been one of the major complaints of the active productive units, in particular of the cooperatives made up of Vuelvan Caras graduates While the government had originally given land to thirteen different production units on the fundo, clientelism and corruption has led to major tracks of land being awarded to unproductive units on the basis of political connections. Despite receiving credit and land, some production

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123 units have abandoned the fundo. Some production units never even inhabited the fundo, as shown in Table 4 3. Membership Problems at Alejandro de Humboldt The production units at Alejandro de Humboldt had a large r number of members when the fundo or iginated. Of the thirteen original production units forming part of the fundo, I was only able to obtain the original membership data for six cooperatives during 2005. B y the time of the first membership survey the s e six cooperatives h a d a combined members hip of 167 members or an average of 28 members per cooperative .8 Originally, some cooperatives started with over thirty members, but had lost members during the initial phases of living in the land while they waited for their Carta Agraria. Membership has continuously dwindled from 2005 until today. Not taking into account inactive production units, membership during 2008 had diminished to only 82 members. As shown in Table 4 4, one of the most noticeable changes is the decrease of average members per cooperative at the fundo. By November 2007, average membership had diminished to eleven members. By 2008 mem bership had further dropped to an average of s even members. The drop in membership not only limited the members ability to successfully work their hect ares but some cooperatives are close to being disbanded. According to A rticle 15 under the Law of Cooperatives, cooperatives are required to have a minimum of five active members If they do not have enough members, they must reorganize by either accepting more members into their cooperative or merging with 8 The data in the membership tables details general trends that have taken place within the fundo regarding membership numbers in the cooperatives and other production units. Unfortunately, the government surveys continued to record membership in some production units even after they were inactive and a few production units primarily those not forming part of Vuelvan Caras are inexplicably left out of some surveys despite continuing to be active. As a result, the ability to make quantitative conclusions is limited. These tables include all the available data in every surve y, including data from production units which were inactive by the time the survey was recorded. The government continued to account for the official membership numbers of certain production unit despite being inactive while their Carta Agraria remained va lid.

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124 another cooperative. By 2008 various cooperatives were legally barely functional. Some cooperatives including Lanceros Productivos and La Carcajada were in the process of restructuring their membership. Both of these c ooperatives contained members on the ir books who no longer formed part of the cooperative. Lanceros Productivos had only four active members during my visit, yet three others were kept on the books in order to remain a valid cooperative in a ccordance with the Law of Cooperatives. The drop in membership had been greater among the cooperatives forming part of Vuelvan Caras, from an average of 28 members in 2005 to 9 members by 2008. From 2005 to 2008, t he eight cooperatives forming part of Vuelvan Caras have dropped from 167 members to only 72 remaining members. With an average of only 9 members, various Vuelvan Caras cooperatives are close to being at the legal threshold of members needed to remain operational. All but one of the Vuelvan Ca ras cooperatives remain active, however the decline in membership has caused most of them to have problems in achieving their agricultural production goals. In contrast, officially, the members from production units not forming part of Vuelvan Caras have increased from 37 aggregate members on 2007 to 51 members on 2008. Some of this increase is artificial since some of these units are currently inactive. As the government awards land to non-Vuelvan Caras production units, total membership numbers of non-co operatives has continued to increase. The average membership of non-Vuelvan Caras production units has remained stable at 7 to 6 members per production union. The decline in membership led to a turnover of elected officials in the fundo. Out of all the ori ginal cooperative presidents, none of them were currently active. The president of Lanceros Productivos remained in name only as he had not been removed from the membership list since the cooperative would move closer to not having enough members to legall y function. Lanceros

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125 Productivos had a new de facto president but had not officially removed the previous president. The turnover of elected officials at the cooperatives was the result of disagreements, problems, and allegedly financial problems. Governme nt Administration of the Fundo As part of their current restructuring efforts, the government has recently created the office of the Comando Za morano whose objective is to facilitate the communication between the different government institutions in an attempt to increase the organization and efficiency of the governments resources by centralizing its administration under the office of the Comando Zamorano As displayed in Figure 4 3 the head of the Comando Zamorano alongside the vocero of the fundo ar e the primary authorities at Alejandro de Humboldt. Arturo Pena was the head of the Comando Zamorano during my visit and he over saw the activities of the INTI agronomists, CIARA agronomists, the Cuban agronomists, the CVA employees, and the INDER employees Both INTI and the Cuba n government provided an animal production agronomist and a crop production agronomist. A CIARA agronomist was not present at the f undo, but CIARA is expected to send an extensionist to live at the f undo. Most CVA workers were machi nery specialists from t he neighboring town of Curiep e. The Cubans at the f undo had been rotated on three different occasions. While Cuban workers were supposed to stay for a year, their stay could vary under exceptional circumstances such as being dismisse d before the end of their services for personal reasons or complain t s about them from members of the f undo or government workers. During my visit, the f undo had three Cuban workers, two women and a man who were either trained agronomists or career agricult uralists. They would make suggestions to the members of the fundo and teach the members ab out agronomy and their specialties According to the 2000 Venezu elan Cuban Oil Agreement in exchange for oil, the Cuban government sends specialists to Venezuela to work at

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126 government misiones (Ortega 2001) In particular the Cuban government has provided doctors, athletic trainers and ag ricultural specialists. Every fundo I have had the opportunit y to visit hosted a Cuban specialist .9 The INTI agronomists and CIARA agronomists are expected to provide advice, supervise crops, and help the members of the fundo communicate with the M PPAT, the CVA or credit entities. However, the INTI agronomists at the F undo Z amorano Alejandro de Humboldt did not have an amicable relat ionship with the members. As a result of the poor infrastructure, the agronomist had not been able to visit the fundo on a regular basis. Also, as a result of structural changes whereas oversight of the fundo was transferred from the INTI to CIARA, the INT I agronomists had not reorganized successfully under the new administrative structure. Before the development of the Comando Zamorano, production units in the fundo had to meet directly with the regional offices of INTI, CVA, INDER, and MPPAT independently. The INTI agronomists would call other organizations to help organize infrastructure and production projects. Yet, there was no individual responsible for the fundo as a unit. By creating the office of Comando Zamorano the head of the Comando is directly responsible for conducting the activities of CIARA, CVA, INTI, INDER and Cuban technicians. During the transition period, the INTI engineers were increasing considered outcasts at the INTI as they were now under the authority of the Comando Zamorano Acco rding to Ricardo Ortiz since the control of the Fundos Zamoranos was transferred to CIARA and the Comando Zamorano INTI is no longer supporting the two INTI agronomist s whose job description is to assist the Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt. 9 The vocero had mixed feelings about the Cubans. While he himself had been trained in Cuba, he felt some of the Cubans that came to Venezuela were only interested in what they could purchase and take back to Cuba. Under a semi capitalist economy, the Cubans could buy computers and televisions in Venezuela that they were unable to purchase in Cuba. He appreciated their help, but particularly felt that the female Cubans that had worked at the fundo were simply waiting for their time at the fundo to end to return to their families in Cuba.

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127 While the governm ent had transferred control of the fundos to CIARA, besides Arturo Pena CIARA has had only a minor involvement in the fundo. Pena answered directly to the l ocal director of the M inistry of A griculture Juan Alvarez about the conditions of the fundo. INDE R personnel, who specialize in infrastructure, work at the fundo yet they do not substantially in teract with the members During my visit, workers from INDER were improving the road from the fundo to Curiepe. Women at Alejandro de Humboldt The Venezuelan government through its social policies including the agrarian reform has attempt ed to enhance the role of women. I analyzed the government statistics on the gender composition of production units and the roles women took on the fundo. While women represe nted a sizable portion of the membership at Alejandro de Humboldt, women were a minority at the fundo, and there was a clear gender d ivisi on of labor. Table 4 5 and 4 6 provide membership by gender in July 2007 and March 2008 surveys of membership at the A lejandro de Humboldt. According to the se surveys there was a marginal drop in percentage of women workers between 2007 and 2008 from 37.4% to 35.5% of the members.10 It is likely that women have accounted for a little over 1/3 of the total membership since the creation of the fundo. While general membership has dropped sharply since the creation of the fundo, my interviews suggest that the drop in membership was not any stronger among women than among men. At the fundo Alejandro de Humboldt, the majority of the leadership positions were held by men. The vocero, the head of the Comando Zamorano the engineers, independent producers and 10 While both of the surveys of membership are very detailed, unfortunately, not every productive unit was surveyed in both surveys. Some productive units are inexplicably unaccounted for. As a consequence I was faced wi th the dilemma of either getting rid of those units for which there was not a continuation of data or include all available data in both tables. I decided to include all the data, however, it is important to note that some productive units are missing in t he 2007 survey, while others are included in the 2008 survey (including other abandoned production units). Nevertheless, despite having more units surveyed in 2008, the total membership number declined.

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128 most cooperative presidents were men. Women at Alejandro de Humboldt did not take a major part in the leadership. With the ex ception of Salom Betania men headed the production units. In the field, labor was generally gender stratified. Most of the days we worked, women stayed at the cooperative housing area In the cooperatives such as Cruitupano where various women members came to work on a daily basis, women would stay at the building cooking, washing clothes, and preparing coffee for the men. Women also collected fruits, fed the animals, and collected the eggs at Hidropnica Maturn While activ ities tended to be divided along traditional gender roles, some days, women in Lanceros Productivos and Hidropnica Maturn would work in the field on par with men. Work in the field, such as clearing the weeds of the cassava was divided on an equal basis. In La Carcajada, the women and the men each cleared the field according to their ability. Old, young, women and men, worked on an equal basis with each other. No women operated heavy machinery. Only on Salom Betania did the women who were cooperative mem bers display a boss/worker relationship with the hired campesino. Salom Betania seemed more rigidly divided between workers and cooperative members. They utilized hired workers for the majority of chores and the women in that cooperative only came t o the cooperative sporadically. Reaching the Fundo Location, Transportation and Road Conditions The Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt is located at latitude 9 29 9 35 with longitude 63 20 63 26, at 80 meters above sea level, in the southwest reg ion of the state of Monagas, in the district of Maturn. The terrain in this area of the country is primarily suitable for cattle ranching and cassava plantations, being composed of sandy soils, partial to annual flooding and sparse vegetation. The economi c infrastructure is limited. Many farms are devoid of

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129 phone reception (including cell phone coverage) and not connected to pave d roads. To reach the Fundo Z amorano was a particularly difficult ordeal. To reach the fundo every morning cooperative members w aited at different points in the city of Maturn to be picked up by a government bus which functions as a low cost community transportation service. The bus also picks up students, workers and government employees whose place of work was in route to the fundo. After forty-five minutes at the cost of a dollar, the bus took travelers as far as the town of Curiepe, one of the two towns neighboring the f undo. The other adjacent town, Boquer n de Amana was located five kilometers from the fundo but it was not accessible during the rainy season (Pena, 2008) The road is asphalted until Curie pe, then one must transverse 4. 2 kilometers of rugged, muddy, and treacherous terrain to reach the gates of the fundo. From the gates, the road was somewhat less rugged. The road from Curiepe could only be transited with a heavy duty vehicle such as a truc k or a jeep For government officials, cooperative members and workers, the difficulty in accessing the fundo was one of the major con strain t s of working at the fundo. The difficult road was not only time consuming to traverse but limited the members abi lity to hold another job outside the fundo. Having a house outside the fundo, many cooperative members travelled back and forth from the fundo on a daily basis. According to the vocero, each of the active cooperatives pooled their original government loans to purchase a heavy duty truck (one by every cooperative) which was used by each cooperative. The trucks were used for all forms of transport, from taking products to the city to travelling within the f undo, to driving individuals in and out of the fundo. To mobilize inside the fundo, cooperative members also utilized their tractors. Low gas prices allowed cooperative members to use the vehicles even as light sources at night when necessary.

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130 In a survey taken by the INTI in June 2007, cooperative members complain ed about the dangers to their crops due to poor road infrastructure, especially during the rainy season when the fundo became at times inaccessible. Out of the 19 individuals, 70.6% cited road infrastructure as the most salient problem at Alejandro de Humboldt (Table 4 1) Maneuvering around the pot holes in the fundo required skilled labor. The drivers I met prided themselves on their knowledge of the road and the paths to avoid which were especially taxing on the vehicle. Dur ing my short stay at the fundo, o n five different occasions vehicles stalled or became stuck in a puddle and required assistance from a tractor. The wear and tear on the trucks was quite visible. During my first trip back to the city one of the trucks ble w a tire just before arriving in Maturn At La Carcajada visible to visitors, lay the remainders of a truck that succumbed to the toils of its travels. Government documents suggest that of the first eight trucks that were assigned to the cooperatives sin ce 2005, four were damaged and unoperational by 2008. From June to August, the roads were particularly difficult to travel. According to Figure 4 4 the government reports of the nearest government weather station indicate that the zenith of the rainy seas on was precisely during the months I visited. The government is currently working on improving the roads of the fundo and plans on asphalting close to five kilometers of roads to reach the fundo, and another eleven kilometers inside the fundo. Despite the proximity between one cooperative and another, travel inside the fundo could often take considerable time. Road conditions also increased the risk of a possible accident. If an accident took place in the fundo, the patients condition could become seriousl y agg ravated while being transported to a health care facility in the city. (See Figure 4 5 and 46).

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131 Terrain at Alejandro de Humboldt Land Types and Classifications The hato La Argentina ha d an extension of 5,213 hectares, of which 4,831 hectares are pa rt of the Fundo Alejandro de Humboldt Acc ording to Table 4 7 b y May 2008, there were 590 hectares under production of which 457.5 are devoted to cattle production, and 132.5 to crop production. Another 419 hectares are reserved for housing construction and a natural reserve (Rojas and Ciano, 2008) Eighty hectares are reserved for housing 39 hectares are part of a wetland aquifer and 300 hectares of s a v a n na are protected. Most of th e cattle production areas are currently vacant as the cooperatives are only currentl y building fences Because of the nature of the terrain, some production units have higher quality land s than others In terms of sources of water, the fundo is surrounded by a morichal and two rivers, river Tonoro and Maripito A morichal is a type of terrain that is surrounded by the moriche palm which grows on swamp waters around the Venezuelan sa v a n na. The swampy marshes of the morichales are characterized by their biod iversity. The fresh clear water of these small rivers was considered very clean by cooperative members. They preferred to drink from the river water rather than their wells. Before having wells and water pump equipment, the cooperative members would fill the sprayers with buckets from the rivers or the morichal. During my visit, when a cooperative member inadvertently borrowed a water tank and left the fundo, those working that day had to resort to filling the sprayers with buckets. Being pressed to meet th e deadline for the Plan Emergente, we had to fill the sprayers and cover thirty hectares before that night. Thanks to the assistance of a group of cooperative members, we were able to meet the challenge. According to Table 4 8 89% of the lands in the fund o are considered sav an n as. Like other sav an n as, parts of the fundo Alejandro de Humboldt are prone to flooding. The vegetation is not dense, and the lands of the fundo are composed primarily of sandy soil. According to a soil study

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132 of the fundo, the soil of the fundo are well drained, but with limited fertility. There are other areas in the fundo with denser vegetation where the members of the fundo, in particular the hired workers would go hunting. According to th e survey illustrated on Table 4 9 78% of the lands at the fundo Alejandro de Humboldt are primarily suitable for cattle gra z ing. The land at Alejandro de Humboldt is devoid of a top soil favorable to agriculture and this requires a significant investment on fertilizers. An obstacle to upgradi ng the land emanates from the temporary nature of the Cartas A grarias. While unlikely, the Cartas A grarias can be revoked and they only provide the usufruct right to harvest crops planted on the land (For example if the original owner of the fundo wins hi s case in court ). (See Figures 4 7 and 4 8) Social Conditions at Alejandro de Humboldt L iving conditions at Alejandro de Humboldt continue to be precarious. When the first cooperative members arrived, there was no electricity, water, housing, or prior deve lopment of the lands award ed to the cooperatives. Table 4 10 shows the main deficiencies and demands of the members. They cited water availability, the lack of school (the close st middle and high school was in Maturn ) a Mercal, and reliable electri city as serious limitations According to the fundos original development plan, the cooperatives will eventually benefit from a school, adequate housing, paved roads and reliable electrical connections Conditions have improved but the government has yet to a ddress many of these problems Potable Water and Water Storage When the production cooperatives were constituted water could only be obtained at the rivers and morichales Since then, the government has improved access to water on some production units bu ilding wells o n most of the Misin Vuelvan Caras cooperatives. Lanceros Productivos, Hidropnica Maturn, and Cruitupano had a working well with an Australian tank

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133 (Described later) Of the cooperatives I visited, only Salom Betani a ( not a Misin Vuelvan Caras cooperative ) lac ked a functioning well Independent producers Juan Dvila and Domingo Blas Poito, had neither a well nor an Australian tank and had to rely on neighboring cooperative s for bathing and collecting water. Also, the association of producers Ro Amana had yet to build an Australian tank. INDER was responsible for per forating wells. T he vocero of the fundo jointly requested the development of wells for all the production unit s to the government. More recent production units that were not part of the collective request had to independently ask for development of the ir water systems Aside from wells, most cooperatives I visited had an active Australian tank. The basic Australia n tank ( open top metal tank) could hold up to 53, 000 liters of water. Some cooperatives like La Carcajada were in the process of extending their Australian tank to hold 10 6, 000 liters of water by adding an additional level. These large containers held larg e quantities of water but are exposed to the weather. The water stored at the Australian tank was used for multiple purposes bathing, cooking, drinking, crop irrigation and fumigation. When children visited, they would use the tank as a recreational pool. The water was not the cleanest, and it was not boiled for drink ing In some instances a layer of dirt would be noticeable at the bottom of the water tanks. (See Figure s 4 9 and 4 10) Quality of Housing At the fundo hired workers and members stayed in makeshift houses constructed with wood and galvanized steel or aluminum sheets.11 These houses are temporary, but the members and workers equipped them with refrigerators, kitchens, beds and television set s Some of the houses have even been painted. Having started with larger number s of members, with an average 11 These houses are similar to the houses built in the shanty towns around Caracas.

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134 of twenty five members per production unit, most of the houses were built to comfortably house ten to fifteen people. Despite the rugged nature of their housing, cooperative members lived comfortably. Outside the fundo, most of the cooperative members lived in rudimentary houses similar to those in the fundo. To upgrade these units, the government taught the members how to construct block houses using a concrete and earth mix and a manual block maker A couple of block makers were rotated among the production units, slowing down the house building process. During my visit, one of the block makers sat idle at La Carcajada Utilizing a block maker, the cooperatives have started to construct block houses nearby their current housing The use of block houses with a concrete foundation protected them from possible flooding, and the incursion of snakes and other animals inside their living quarters. The galvanized steel ceilings are very loud during rain sto rms, and snakes among other animals move around at night through the bedrooms. Nevertheless, for the members of the fundo these conditions were common and upgrading housing was not a priority. The government supplied materials and equipment for building block houses into which the production units could upgrade their rudimentary galvanized steel housing while the government organized the future construction of permanent houses on the 80 he ctares the fundo reserved for a subsidized housing development proje ct. Cooperative members have asked for the development of 60 different houses. Some members, particularly women were concerned about improving housing conditions for the ir children. Children would visit the fundo often, but did not general ly spend the night at the fundo. I n an interview, a member of Cruitupano explained her feeling regarding housing: One of the reasons I have yet to move my children here is because of the lack of a school. Its difficult to come and go from the fundo. The housing is not ba d, but its not good

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135 either. Hopefully the government will build houses soon. The houses used to be a lot more crowded, but with members leaving, there is a lot more space now. We have started making our houses with the block maker, and we are working on t hem. We stopped for now to work on the Plan Emergente (Usmaris, 2008) During my time at the fundo, only the block house at Salom Betania had been finished. Hidropnica Maturn, Cruitupano and Lanceros Productivos had started working on their block house s but not had finished construction. Labradores de la Patria had finished a major block building which they utilized as living quarters. The houses were built with the dual purpose of serving as both an input storag e facility and living accommodations. Independent producers and civil associations did not receive government assistance or training to build block houses. Workers at Juan Dvila and Domingo Blas Poito lived in a makeshift building, while workers of Ro Am ana lived in an in small block house with a makeshift roof In the interviews, the cooperative members complained about the quality of the housing, but were more concerned with advancing their production projects. In the hierarchy of priorities, housing im provements were not as pressing as other projects including road development, electrical stability, and agricultural production. For some members and workers the current houses represented an improvement over their original living conditions. Some members and hired workers had no other residence aside the fundo or lived in invaded property at their outskirts of the city. (See Figures 4 11 and 412) Electrical Service Besides water and housing, another major problem at the fundo was electricity. Independe nt producers Domingo Blas Poito and Juan Dvila had no access to electricity, while all of the active cooperatives and civil associations had an unreliable electricity service. The electricity in all production units would come and go especially during the rainy season T he government has invested in electric al lines and transformers but was still trying to deal with the

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136 problems of stability. A high capacity electric al line built i n 1997 with a capacity of 400kv known as El Furrial I passes through the fundo and provides electricity to the oil industry in the states of Monagas and Anzotegui The previous land owner of the fundo, the Bermudez Association had obtained rents from this electric line, yet despite this major electric installation, the fundo was devoid of the transformers necessary to provide electricity to the production units. The government has invested in providing the fundo with stable electricity, yet despite installing the necessary equipment, they have been unable to pinpoint the probl em that causes the electricity shortage. In addition to stability problems, crime has also hindered electric al development. During 2007, Lanceros Productivos and Salom Betania had their transformers stolen. In spite of the difficulties of reaching the fundo, someone with knowledge of the area had come in at night and stolen the transformers from the cooperatives. They also attempted to steal some of the pigs at Lanceros Productivos but fo rtunately, the cooperative members who had stayed to watch over the fundo noticed the assault in time preventing further theft from the fundo. T he cooperative members felt the thief was probably someone that had been a member, had worked at the fundo or s omeone hired by the previous land owner In the cooperatives with reliable electricit y : they would charge their cell phones operate a refrigerator, a stove a television set, and other basic electronic equipment. Lanceros Productivos had a computer but they were unable to use it as a result of the unreliable electric ity service and their fear of an electric surge. Without local phone service, production units relied on cell phones (in a few places where a limited signal was available) for communicating during the day or calling their families at night. If a person had a cell phone but there was no electricity in their production unit, they would leave the cell phone charging at a nearby production unit.

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137 Without electricity, the day began at sunrise and for many ended at sunset. In the places with electricity, members would watch soap operas and entertainment programs during meals. While in many instances electricity is a luxury, without electricity, they are unable to refrigerate food, operate some water w ells and adequately clean the pig pens. Food Consumption at Alejandro de Humboldt The basic diet on the fundo con sisted of chicken, tuna, sardines, and any wild game they were able to hunt. During my stay there, I recorded what the production unit I visite d had to eat during each lunch in Table 4 11. Breakfast and dinner were similar, primarily consisting of either corn flour or wheat pasta. Despite its low cost, the cooperative members seldom ate ric e. Bread was also scarce. The cooperative members would s ometimes buy a bottle of soda, a can of beans and other products to complement their meals. There was a small store and a coffee shop in Curiepe. There the members of the f undo could obtain matches, cigarettes, beverages, coffee an d other basic consumption items the selection was not diverse. If not purchased in the local store, the food had to be brought from Maturn by a commuting member in the morning. Food was abundant but not diverse. In most of the meals I took part in there was enough food for second servings. Usually a member of a production unit was designated as the cook. In the cooperatives the cook was usually a member, while in the associations the cook was usually a hired worker. An additional source of food w as hunting. At night a group of about six or eight workers or members from different cooperatives would get together and go hunting. During my stay, they would get together, drink and eat at night at Salom Betania. From there, a group of men would walk to the more densely forested border of the fundo for hunting. Every cooperative had rifles, machetes, shovels, and flashlights. Accompanied by hunting dogs, the cooperative members would hunt armadillos, ursine howler monkeys, capybara, deer, skunks, and pos sum among other animals. The most common catch was armadillos. As a result of extensive hunting, the workers

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138 acknowledged the decrease in wild game. In our hunting trips, we trespassed into private land, crossing barbwire at nig ht in our search for wild ga me (See Figures 4 13 and 4 14) First Aid and Health Conditions A major risk at Alejandro de Humboldt was the lack of first aid or any form of health facility. With a large number of individuals with limited agr icultural experience and operating heavy mach inery, machetes, rifles and other potentially dangerous equipment there is a high risk for accidents. One of the cooperative members had a machete wound in an arm and a metal plate in his leg from another wound A younger member of a production unit had be en run over by a truck but miraculously did not suffer any injuries. The members of the fundo are careful in performing their duties, but working with tools and heavy machinery, a more serious accident could eventually happen. As for sanitation garbage w as piled and periodically burned. There are also no sewers Dirty water and some pesticide and herbicide containers were disposed of near the housing o n the fundo. Sacks of fertilizer were reused for other purposes. Waste was ofte n near houses, and the lac k of electricity hamper ed the cleaning of the pig pen having no water pressure to properly clean them Crop Production at Alejandro de Humboldt The Fundo Alejandro d e Humboldt began primarily as a crop production project. With the uncertainty of whether they would be able to retain the lands and the preparations needed for cattle production, in its initial stages the members believed it was in their best interest to emphasize crop production With technical, financial, and input assistance, the fundo has co ntinuously increased its agricultural production during its first three years. The fundo began by growing watermelons, soy, cassava, tomatoes, and pineapples among other crops. Through collaboration with government engineers and a methodology of trial and

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139 error, the cooperative members have learned what crops are best adapted to the environment Like most of southern Monagas, the lands are primarily suitable for cattle (As shown in Figure 1 1) Some crops such as pineapples, soy, watermelons, cassava and peanuts are also grown successfully. Other crops such as passion fruits, tomatoes, and corn have had difficulties in achieving the commercial or viable yields or the yields expected by the gove rnment. The two major problems in reaching projected yields include a lack of coordination with government agencies, and poor or inadequate crop cultivation While some of these problems were not under the control of the production units, some production units have also been negligent in monitoring and maintaining their production. As shown on an annexed document, the government was very detailed in its elaboration of cost of production plans (Annex 4 ). However, there was a significant gap between the generation of production plans, the amount that was planted, and the amount that was harvested. There are few documents which give insight into the level of production attained by the fundo. Among these documents are the 20052006 production plans, a 2007 survey of the current level of production in the fundo, and a 2008 production plan. Unfortunately the 2008 production data w ere not separated according to cooperative units which limited more useful comparison s This section attempts to organize agricultu ral production in the fundo along a time line charting the level of production obtained by the fundo, its progress and problems. I complemented and verified the information available in the government documents through my interviews. As outlined in Table 4 12, according to the 20052006 production plans, the fundo planned on planting and harvesting 125 hectares of sour cassava, 75 hectares of sweet cassava, 258 hectares of soy beans, and 43.5 hectares of watermelons. Of these 502 hectares, every cooperative planned on planting a similar amount of cassava and soy beans.

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140 From this production, government expected the following yields: 15,000 kilograms per hectare of cassava, 20,000 kilograms per hectares of watermelon and 1,200 kilogram per hectare of soy. As shown i n Table 4 1 3 after discounting 5,000 kilograms of cassava and 5,000 kilograms of watermelon for self -consumption, and US $247,089 in inputs the fundo expected to obtain a net profit of US $1,118,115 from this production. Unfortunately, the fundo di d not meet the expected production goals as administrative problems brought about the disintegration of Lanceros 2021, also the cooperatives did not receive the soy seeds in time and most of the sweet cassava w as not planted. The watermelons were not sold at the market having been kept for personal consumption. The other cooperatives aside from Lanceros 2021 also suffered from managerial problems and serious disagreements between cooperative members. As reported i n Table 4 14, out of the 125.5 hectares of bitter cassava the fundo had planned on planting, they actually planted 304 hectares substituting most of the planned sweet cassava for bitter cassava Instead the original planting plan, t he fundo had planted 21 hectares of beans, 6 hectares of passion fruit, 24 hectares of lemons, 12 hectares of pineapple, 0.5 hectares of paprika, 1 hectares of sweet aji (chili) pepper and 2 hectares of mango. Out of all the production, the number of hectares planted of bitter c assava was the most promising. Table 4 15 shows the hectares of agricultural crops the fundo had already planted by February 2008. Despite its initial promise by February 2008, only 62 hectares of cassava remained. The rest of the cassava production had succumbed to the worm infestation; There were so m any worms one could hardly step (Guzman, 2008) During my stay I had the opportunity to work in the field and clean the weeds out of some of the remaining hectares of cassava production. The remaining hectares were well irrigated and kept by the cooperatives.

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141 Some crops such as passion fruit and tomatoes were lost due to inadequate care. The passion fruit vines and posts lay forgotten by the side of the Cruitupano and La Carcajada The yield had been below expectation and the project had been abandoned. The tomatoes had not been irrigated and had dried out under the sun. William Perez, a member of Juan Dvila mentioned the lack of follow through and the high rate of harve st failure. According to him, some cooperative members were attempting to maximize their personal gain at the governments expense They are a mafia. They are not interested in harvesting. They can explain away a failed crop (to the government). As long a s they plant a number of hectares, the credit will be paid and covered. Verify this information yourself dont take my word for it, but they (one of the cooperatives ) even celebrated when the referendum failed. They have a ring (corruption ring) together. What did they tell you they are producing? Ask them what happened to those crops. One after the other, most of them failed. Some cooperatives are doing a good job, but others, they are only interested in obtaining more credits, not in harvesting. Some fail ures were not the cooperatives fault, but others were due to negligence... Watch out with what you tell them. They want you out of the fundo. You ask too many questions and they are scared about what you might find out (Perez, 200 8) William Perez asked me to verify the high failure rates myself. My subsequent inquiries to other cooperative members about the results of previous production on the fundo were met with reservations. Previously, another production unit who had planted soy beans in the fundo had been run out of the fundo only after preparing the soil. While the production unit had invested in preparing the soil for future harvests, the hectares were taken away from that production unit and awa rded on a temporary basi s to a group of cooperatives despite the other farmers long term investment in soil enrichment. Also, 150 hectares of peanuts had been lost as a result of poor coordination when the machinery to extract the peanuts was brought to the fundo weeks after it was required. While they were able to collect a few sacks of peanuts, most of the crop was lost in the ground. After planting hundreds of hectares, most of the production had failed to be successfully harvested and

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142 reach the market due to a lack of inputs coordination, the inability to bring in equipment in time, and damaged seeds, among other reasons. According to William Perezs comment and subsequent observations, i t appears possible, that some individuals at the fundo may be primarily interested in ob taining governments funds to increase their personal wealth and reconcentrat ing the lands at the fundo under a few members rather than increasing agricultural production or increasing membership To further assess their impact and recurrence, a more extensive study is necessary. Other crops such as the lemons, mangos, and pineapples had not reached maturity during my visit to the fundo. Civil Association R o Amana accounted for the majority of fruits planted including 12 hectares of lemon, 12 hectares of pineapple and 2 hectares of mango. Carlos Rivera, a member of Domingo Blas Poito advocated the planting of a larger amount of fruit trees around the fundo to increase the area of natural reserve. Fruit trees would provide fruits and wood for the farmer s in the long run. However, trees would take years before reaching maturity. M ost cooperative members and workers at the fundo felt confident that they had learned from previous experiences and that regarding their future harvests would obtain better resu lts In the summer of 2008, according to the February 2008 proposed plan summarized in Table 4 1 5 the fundo was pl anning to plant 480 hectares of corn, 480 of sorghum, 40 of cassava, 10 of potatoes, 110 of peanuts, 0.25 of sweet aji (chili) pepper, 10 of calabaza (type of pumpkin), 9 of watermelon, 10 of melon, 5.5 of plantain, 3 of pineapple. In addition to the estimates in this table, Domingo Blas Poito and Juan Dvila were planting an additional 50 hectares of soy in each of their production units. By t he end of the year, it was planned that 1,257 of the 4,310 useful hectares of the fundo would be under cultivation.

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143 During this same period, the government plans to harvest 115 hectares of soy, 3 of pineapple, 9 of plantain, 6 of melon, 13 of watermelon, 11 of potatoes, 20 of cassava, 50 of sorghum, 480 of corn, 240 of peanuts, 2.5 of sweet aji (chili) pepper, and 11 hectare of calabaza D uring my visit in July 2008, the cooperatives primary focus had shifted to finishing the fences for the cattle and growing 480 hecta res of corn required under the Plan Emergente Under the Plan Emergente the government required every Fundo Zamorano to plant a primary staple of the Venezuelan diet. Fundos Zamoranos and agrarian NDE s could choose between corn, cassava, sorghum, bell peppers, black and white beans and tomatoes ( Ultimas Noticias 2008; Manzanare, 2008) Despite not having the most suitable soil for agriculture the members of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt voted in a meeting to grow corn in orde r to fulfill the governments requirement. As part of the Plan Emergente, their production was guaranteed to be purchased by the government. The government has recen tly emphasized the importance of corn production as a main cereal crop of the Venezuela n di et.12 As an integral part of the governments development strategy the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt decided to plant these 480 hectares of corn on lands that were currently part of inactive cooperatives. Active cooperatives obtained permission to plant on these hectares in order to preserve their own lands for growing pasture and cattle grazing. The cooperatives Cruitupano, Lanceros Productivos, Salom Betania and Hidropnica Maturn pooled their labor in order to meet the challenge of planting those 480 hectares. 12 In September 2007, the government hosted the conference Somos de Maiz in Caracas attended by delegations from Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mxico, Nicaragua and Venezuela. They discussed the importance of corn in Latin American culture and its linkages to production sovereignty and preservation of the ecology of Latin America (Prensa MPPAT, 2007)

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144 Working at night and regardless of weather, members of these cooperatives labored relentlessly to meet their planting deadline. Without pooling their labor, fulfilling the goals of the Plan Emergente might not have been pos sible. In general the fundo had reoriented its goals towards becoming a cattle ranch. In addition, the diminishing number of members made it difficult to pursue the large number of ambitious agricultural production projects. Another limiting factor was th e hectares awarded to each cooperative. By the middle of 2009 the fundo planned to have close to half of its land operational. Active cooperatives were eager to expand their production but could not expand their production to the unused hectares of inactiv e cooperatives. Unless the government agreed to lease the land of the inactive cooperatives or redistribute it once their Carta Agraria became void, this land could not be placed under production by the remaining active cooperatives. While active cooperati ves had obtained permission to plant on some of the lands of inactive cooperatives, a large number of hectares remain unproductive. Despite the promising outlook of the corn harvest, some of the individuals I interviewed were fearful of unexpected problem s with the crop. (See Figures 4 15 and 416) Livestock Production at Alejandro de Humboldt The meat processing and packing plant for southern Monagas is located a mere 15 minutes from Curiepe. Historically, t he southern plains of Monagas have been used prim arily for cattle ranching. Similarly, t he lands of the latifundio La Argentina were, according to the fundos development plan and its terrain survey, primarily suited for cattle production. As a result, the recent shift of the fundo towards ranching was e xpected. R anching is less labor intensive and less dependent on machinery and inputs than agricultural crops Also, various members of the fundo had prior experience in handling cattle from working as wage workers for land owners Following the decline in membership numbers in the fundos production units decreasing from

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145 an average of 28 members in 2005 to an average of 7 members by 2008, cooperatives had shifted production towards cattle ranching. In southern Monagas, a large number of agricultural produ cers are absentee land owners who did work the land and visited on a weekly basis. Depending on whether they had a primary job other than ranching on the reliability of their farm hands, and on their dependence on revenues from dairy production some owners visit ed the ranch more frequent ly These producers primarily used natural pastures, and qualify as extensive ranchers One of the goals of the Chvez s agrarian reform is to transform the agrarian landscape by focusing on crop production. Nev ertheless, the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt, since its original planning has promoted the inclusion of cattle in its production. The shift towards cattle ranching will likely increase the sustainability of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. However, it may transform the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt into a structure similar to those developed by medium -size capitalist producers during the previous agrarian reform. By July 2007, as shown in Table 4 1 6 eight cooperatives had obtained cr edits for dual purpose cattle. This variety of cattle permits the production of dairy products as well as meat. Due to soil and climate conditions, specialized dairy cattle are not suitable for Venezuelan agriculture (Soto, 2006). Currently inactive cooper atives Botaln and Tapericual also obtained credits. Hidropnica Maturn and Cruitupano were interested in obtaining a credit to also purchase cattle. D uring my visit, various cooperatives were finishing their fencing and had purchased old metal pipes fro m oil rigs to build metal pens to segregate their cattle. After more than a year, o nly the cooperative La Carcajada had obtained their first head of dual purpose cattle. The rest of

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146 the cattle were to arrive by late November or December of 2008. A future v isitor to the fundo, may find the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt, turned in a large extent to a ranching operation. However, this transformation into cattle production will likely make the fundo more sustainable, particularly after losing a large num ber of members in recent years. In addition to the cattle, La Carcajada was in the process of purchasing another horse to handle the cattle. They had previously purchased two horses, but unfortunately, a cooperative member attempting to break in and train the horses tied a rope to them and a truck and drove the truck around the cooperative t o train them. Out of exhaustion and physical harm both horses perished. This un fortunate incident led to the ousting of this member from the cooperative. (See Figu res 4 17 and 4 18) A ll the production units with the exception of Dvila raised their own chickens for personal consumption. These gallinas criollas or common Venezuelan chickens could be found throughout the fundo. Every cooperative raised their own c hickens to supplement their meals. Most of the time the chickens were used for making soups T hey lived off leftovers and whatever they could find around the cooperative. Other cooperatives also obtained credits to invest in eggs production. Hidropnica Ma turn and Trabajo Agrario both had egg laying hens and would collect eggs on a daily basis for their sale in the market. Commercial egg production not only gave them an additional source of income but it enhanced their diet since damaged or misshaped eggs were eaten by the cooperative members For Hidropnica Maturn their egg production was a source of pride : In this cooperative we no longer eat sardines (Oropeza, 2008) Not only had their diet improved, but egg production was providing substantial revenues. Hidropnica Maturns egg production was the most efficient enterprise in the fundo collecting up to 60 cartones or flats or 1 800 eggs a day.

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147 Two and a half dozen eggs or a flat were usually sold for Bs $10,000 or US $ 4.65. Nuevo Amanecer and Cruitupano also sold eggs but on a smaller scale. Nuevo Amanecer collected 9 flats per day, and Cruitupano collected 6 flats per day. The cooperatives also raised gamecocks for their weekly cock fights. Most members of the fundo would go to the village to participate in cock fighting eve nts on Friday. Rooster fighting appears to be a major source of entertainment for men in southern Maturn Besides chickens, Lanceros Productivos also kept two pig pens. The impregnated or nur sing sows were kept in a concrete construction with divisions, while the boar hog or padrote and non -pregnant females were kept in a mud pit next to the concrete construction. To avoid genetic det erioration, they would purchase a male after every generation. Starting only with five animals, Lanceros Productivos had 56 pigs at the time of my visit. Other cooperatives such as La Carcajada kept a single pig in a pen fed with leftovers as insurance. Ba ckyard pig raising serves as an additional source of income in times of financial need O ther cooperatives were planning on expanding their animal production to include pigs and cattle but had yet to finish the fencing or pens for the animals. Cruitupano was raising rabbits for sale and pers onal consumption. Table 4 17 displays the number of pigs, rabbits, and egg laying hens owned at the fundo during December of 2007. By the time of my visit, Hidropnica Maturn had increased their production to over 2,000 hens and Cruitupano also sold commercial eggs and production of pigs at Lanceros Productivos was stable. As for pets, all cooperatives had dogs, in some instances over six and close to a dozen dogs could belong to a single cooperative. They were adept at hunting. La Carcajada also kept a sizable number of ducks as pets. Despite feeding them alongside their chickens, the cooperative members at La Carcajada

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148 did not eat them. Other pets included orphaned birds and parrots (See Figures 4 19, 4 20, 421, 4 22, 4 23, 424) Conflict with Technicians Some of the coordination problems in production have occurred as a result of rifts between the government agronomists and cooperative members. One cooperative member recalled having forced a government agronomist, Ricardo Ortiz out of the fundo at gun point after a disagreement over the administration of the fundo. The reason for the altercation had apparently been mundane H owever, it was apparent that some cooperative members blamed the lack of response from the government on the agronomists In addition, having received training regarding farming and agrarian life under the program Misin Vuelvan Caras and having previous experience as hired farm workers, some cooperative members did not feel inclined to listen to the advice of the agronomists. The conflict between agronomists and cooperative members was highly influenced by the distant relationship between the m T he INTI agronomist s had originally intended to visit a fundo every day of the week, alternating bet ween visits to Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt and Fundo Zamorano Juana la Avanzadora. Infrastructural problems in Alejandro de Humboldt and even more serious problems in reaching Juana la Avanzadora limited their visits to one or two trips per week. They would seldom spend the night at the fundo when they visited. The distant relationship with the agronomists led some cooperative members to see them as parasites living off government salaries and thus they were not inclined to listen to them. With tim e, this relationship deteriorated and agronomists visit ed the fundo on a less regular basis. T he agronomist s would visit the fundo a few times a week and give recommendations to the cooperative members but the final decisions were left in the hands of the cooperative members

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149 Some cooperatives, in particular Lanceros Productivos and the vocero of the fundo felt that a number of government officials were actively impeding the success of the government misiones They believed that since m any of the employees had been retained from the previous government, some of the se holdovers were actively attempting to increase the obstacles for the Chvez government in an effort to reduce the success of his administration. Cooperative members were als o disgruntled over the high salaries awarded to the com etas (comets) or the government officials who are unable to visit the fundo on a regular basis. Driving back into the city with the government workers, Arturo Pena explained the difficulties they e ncountered in helping the cooperative members. While they themselves had been the instructors at Misin Vuelvan Caras by not staying at the fundo on a regular basis, they had not been able to gain the trust of the cooperatives. The campesino is very stub born. If you mess up, you are done for. They are always talking about others in the meetings. Thats why Rojas cannot return to the fundo. Now starting all this gossip about the Cubans They are always talking about others, if they only focused in the harvest. Always gossip, pure gossip. There is always some shit going on. (Pena, 2008) The situation had worsened at Alejandro de Humboldt as a result of the distance between the agronomists and the workers. N o extension engineer sta yed and lived in Alejandro de Humboldt. Not only did no government official stayed permanently in the fundo, but the extensiveness of the fundo and lack of communication systems made it was difficult to organize a meeting or training session. On one of my last days on the fundo, a plantain specialist came to teach the production units how to grow plantain more efficiently. Meeting at the Civil Association of Producers Ro Aman a the visiting agronomist waited for hours as Arturo Pena attempted to gather a g roup of workers at the fundo. After spending most of the day at the fundo, they were unable to organize a meeting, and the training session had to be cancelled. Not even

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150 one member from another production unit showed up. As a result, the training session w as postponed for a later date. Even when government agronomists have the best interest of the fundo in mind, the lack of trust and coordination has likely influenced crop failure. Recommendations by technicians were not enforced on cooperative members and in the end, the cooperative members obtained loans for the crops they wanted and grew the crops they selected. Technicians served pri marily to guide in the decision making. Having previous conuco or minifundio growing experience and having previously worked as agricultural workers, some members had a limited notion of the requirements for growing and harvesting certain crops. However, their conuco experience was very different from the organization and extensiv eness of the mechanized agriculture taking place in the fundo. The remains of experiments, such as the six hectares of passion fruit, remain adjacent to the cooperative gr ounds as a reminder of failed experiences. (See Figures 4 25 and 426) Tools and Equi pment According to their inventor y, the production units at the F undo Z amorano received a sizable and readily available allotment of hand tools needed for farming. Each cooperative was awarded tools from the regional MPPAT The tools which were awarded but were not yet needed we re stored in a storeroom Table 4 1 8 shows some of the tools provided by the Comando Zamorano. The machinery awarded to each cooperative included tractors, chisel ploughs, disk harrows, cultivators, and sprayers. This ma chinery, disp layed on Table 4 19, was kept by independent production units who then borrowed additional machinery from each other according to their requirements. S pecialized harvest machinery was not owned by the cooperative and had to be rented from the CVA and its production branch, the Enterprise of Socialist Production Pedro Camejo

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151 EPS Pedro Camejo. Additional tractors or replacements to broken equipment could also be rented from the CVA. To run the specialized machinery, the fundo would hire drivers from Curiepe where some of the local population had been trained in handling heavy machinery by the government. Of the original tractors that were awarded to the cooperatives, several had been damaged and laid broken throughout the fundo. Most of these tractors had been built thought an arrangement for the production of heavy machinery with Iran.13 Table 4 19 shows the tr actor s available at the fundo on December 2007. At first, the fundo received eight VENIRAN tr actors During my visit, four of these tr actors had been damaged A government document in the a ppendix shows the governments report regarding the conditions of the tr actors during a December 2007 checkup (Annex 5 ). The fundo had later received another four tr actors out of which another two also required repa irs. Not having a mechanic nearby, if a tr actor broke down, a mechanic had to come out from the city. If a tr actor needed a major repair the tr actor had to be taken to the city for further maintenance. However, many of the tr actor s in the fundo that had been damaged have not been repaired. Critical government officials believed the damage of the tr actor s went beyond the traditional wear and tear of equipment. An annexed letter from the INTI agronomists to the MPPAT shows how the cooperative members had in instances illegally leased tr actor s to private producers and how the trucks had been damaged at a rate higher than it was expected (Annex 6 ). Alfonso Tortosa A member of Juan Dvila mentioned how a cooperative member had driven a 13 The VENIRAN tractors manufacture was part of a joint venture enterprise created on March 12, 2005 where Iran and Venezuela agree to produce tractors in Venezuela. The Iranian Tractor Manufacturing Company [ITMCO] and the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana [CVG] respectively hold 51% and 49% of the market shares (VENIRAN Tractor, 2008).

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152 truck into a ditch at nig ht while hunting. Wear and tear and inadequate use of machinery had left half of the tractors originally granted to the fundo unoperational two years later. Table 4 20 shows the additional machinery and tractors requested by the fundo. The specialized mach inery or the machinery that was not available at every production unit at the fundo had to be shared. In sharing fumigators, seeders, and other agricultural machinery, production units had to effectively coordinate their schedules with each other. As a res ult of negative experiences, some production units were reluctant to share their machinery. Tools and inputs such as fertilizers were kept in individual cooperative storage units as well as a general storage unit constructed by the INCE. The storage unit w as used to store general basic tools such as machetes. Larger tools stayed independently with each cooperative. Some important input s such as diesel fuel and motor oil were not stored in sufficient quantities. Not having access to diesel fuel and other inp uts generated delays to production in the fundo. Before the Chvez administration, most farmers kept a number of barrels filled with diesel fuel in their production units. Yet, the current government, out of fear of trafficking, limited sale of diesel fuel to one barrel of diesel per purchase. This has been an inconvenience for private and public pr oduction units who must remember to bring a barrel to the gas station every time they leave the production unit. Despite b eing a government program, the F undo Z amorano was not granted an exception to the law. Some members of the fundo have advocated mainta ining a general supply of diesel available for everyone at the fundo, as well as improving their communication system so that production units will not lose time looking for a particular input. Another input which the production units complained about not having readily accessible was motor oil. One day we spent four hours looking for motor oil for a tractor as it had been returned without sufficient motor oil. After visiting various production units, they eventually

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153 borrowed oil from Cruitupano. In anothe r occasion a fumigator had to stop working after a water tank was inadvertently borrowed by Hidropnica Maturn without informing the other production units. The lack of a general storage facility and effective communication greatly slowed down production. Carlos Rivera the head of Domingo Poito and the vocero suggested purchasing a system of handheld transceivers from the government, but the request was not approved. The INCE storage unit was also not well administered and there was no t a group of individuals in charge. Having no control of who removed what items, certain items were purposely kept out of the general storage area. Items like diesel and motor oil could have been stored there, but production units were afraid that some units would abuse of th e storage unit as free riders. Expendable inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and seeds were bought from government companies. The fertilizer utilized at the fundo was obtained from Pequiven, part of the Ministry of Energy and Oil. For planting corn, th e fundo purchased El Productivo a fertilizer with a composition of 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorous, 20% potassium, and 4% sulfur. Pequiven, an independent EPS under the Chvez administration, has increased its production of fertilizers under the current g overnment and supplies the government supported agrarian producers such as fundos and agrarian NDE s among others, with fertilizers and other agrarian products at discount prices. Pesticides and herbicides along with protective gear were also supplied by the government. Overall the cooperatives have in most cases received tool s and equipment necessary for successful production. B etter coordination and a better use of storage facilities would improve production W ith the exception of the special equipment needed for the peanut harvest, the government has provided the productive units with whatever equipment they required. The fundo

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154 would benefit from a machine shop and a permanent mechanic as well as the improvement of infrastructure to diminish wear and te ar in the vehicles. Better control over unauthorized use of trucks and tractors would prevent needless damage. Government Funding and Credit According to Arturo Pena the head of the Comando Zamorano, the government has invested around US $ 7 to 15 million in the F undo Z amorano Alejandro de Humboldt. Large part of the investment was used to improve the general infrastructure of the fundo. Data from the development projects managed by INDER w ere not available, but providing electricity to the fundo, building roads, wells, giving the production units basic tools and machinery accounted for the bulk of the original investment. Some of this funding was provided by FONDAFA while other development projects were done independently by the government through its rural agencies, in particular INDER. Aside from the original investment to develop the social and economic infrastructure, the government has also provided Alejandro de Humboldt with credit at a low interest rate of 3 % to 4 % payable in up to 20 years. Under the L aw of Credits for the A grarian S ector promulgated on November 5, 2002, the Central Ban k of Venezuela is in charge of d et ermining annual interest rates. The Chvez administration had lowered interest rates and invested in creating government in stitutions such as the BAV, FODAS, FONDAFA, BANMUJER, FONDEMI and Banco Soverano del Pueblo to provide credit to individuals traditional ly marginalized, including medium and small agricultural producers. Aside from creating or reorienting credit institutions, the go vernment has enacted a Law of Benefits and F acilities of P ayment for A grarian D ebts in S trategic Crops for N ational F ood S overeignty and S ecurity (2008) which allows for refinancing,

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155 and diminishing quotas as well as exonerating credit to victims of adverse climate conditions or poor refinancing arrangements. Alejandro de Humboldt has obtained credits primarily from three of these government institutions: BANMUJER, FONDAFA, and FONDEMI. The government has increase d its investment in the agricultural s ector providing a greater number of loans than previous governments M ost cooperatives in the fundo had more than one consecutive credit at the time of my visit. As shown on Table 419, FONDAFA, which provided the original development credit, had issued t h e largest portion of the credits granted by 2007. This was f ollowed by the credits for cattle production awarded by FONDEMI, and some smaller credits awarded by BANMUJER. For the first stage of production, according to government documents the fundo rece ived an initial investment of US $ 991,637 for planting four major crops and constructing storage units, water tanks, and providing the fundo with basic tool s and supplies (Annex 7 ). The initial investment of the government in the fundo was a mixture of gra nts and loans. To what degree the initial funding of the fundo was awarded as a grant, and which aspects were awarded as a credit is difficult to assess. Expecting difficulties, most of the original credits were pardoned by the government. According to the 2005 production plan, t he cost of production for crops amounted to US $ 362,456, another US $ 241,129 was allocated for the development of infrastructure, US $ 183,721 for the purchase of tools, US $ 78,730 for unexpected expenses, and US $ 125,599 for cooperative members scholarships.14 The government provided the fundo the initial funding, yet the value of production of the fundo felt far short from the expected US $1,118,115. There are no data on the profit generated 14 The cooperatives continued to receive a scholarship from the government during the first year of production. Some of these government payments were distributed later than expected.

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156 from the original production, yet the extensive ness of crop failures suggests that profits were far lower than expected. Depending on the credit, production units were insured against a long rainy season, or a long dry season, for plagues, and for damaged seeds. For a variety o f reasons including coordination problems between production units and with the negligence of crop maintenance, the production units were not able to reach the expected production. Regardless of their problems, the government has been lenient in accepting the production units justification for falling short of expectations and expenses were covered by the insurance. Every productive unit has obtained a variety of credits from different credit institutions. As the main representative, the vocero is in charg e of visiting the offices of FONDAFA, BANCOMUJER and FONDEMI to request, collect, and report on their credit conditions. Some of these credits were requested by the vocero along with production unit presidents in order to obtain a faster response from the government and credit institutions. The current government has promoted a large array of development initiatives. As a result campesinos and other organizatio ns which constantly reiterate to the government their need for assistance and financial support a re frequently rewarded Concerned with the fundo as a whole, t he vocero pointed out how despite having access to credit on their own, La Carcajada has done all in their power to obtain credi ts for other production units. On one occasion while waiting for t he vocero at the offices of FONDAFA, I was able to interview a number of independent producers or representative s of production units requesting credit at FONDAFA. According to them, the government has increase d the availability of credit and has sembrado petrleo (planted petroleum), by using a surplus of oil revenues to bring about rural development.

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157 Unfortunately, the government originally requir ed limited accountability on their credits, and credits were misused for other purchases. Despite having obtained advances from loans inactive cooperatives such as Vivoral, Trabajo Agrario, Gente Productiva, Lanceros 2021 and Vencedores 543 and Moriche Te rcer Milenio did not invest all of this money in the fundo and some of them were never active within the Fundo Zamorano According to members of La Carcajada itself, the previous presidents of some cooperatives, including thei r own ex -president, had kept no financial records. Fund mismanagement was an issue on various production units. The previous treasurer and president of La Carcajada disappeared after the government demanded to see their expenditures. The vocero and other cooperative members in La Carca jada believed that when they are able to recover the book from the previous treasurer, they will find evidence of previous administrative mismanagement. After the previous president and the treasurer left, the current president and vocero along with other members of the cooperative had to invest their own saving (saving from their other jobs and life savings) to make up $30,000 stolen from a government credit granted to build a storage unit During my visit, the head of the Comando Zamorano Arturo Pena emp hasized the need for product ion units to improve their book keeping and accountability. Apart from accountability problems, independent producer Dvila believed another problem facing the fundo was the production units inclination towards requesting more c redits and enacting various consecutive production projects despite decreasing membership and number of available workers. Cooperatives had a separate credit for each crop they were planting. Therefore, at times cooperatives had credits for a variety of pr oducts including soy, corn, beans, peppers, mangos, watermelons, pineapples, cattle, chickens, pigs, among others. To Dvila, the cooperatives were

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158 at times overly focused on obtaining a new credit for a different crop rather than focusing on successfully planting and harvesting the products they had received credits for. Cooperative Member Scholarships and Advances A more detailed analysis of income at the Fundos Zamoranos should be a focus of future research at the Fundos Zamoranos. The insight provided in this section comes from the limited access obtained from the data of the government and discussed in the interv iews with cooperative members The information provided by the INTI documents allowed to me to obtain a clearer picture regarding their economic activities than was explained during the interviews Having a poor to non -existent financial records within the cooperatives, cooperatives members were wary of discussing this subject in detail. Access to a cooperatives financial records would have been beneficial for understanding the wages paid for hired workers and how the money obtained from loans was distribu ted. Since the topic was not of comfort to those interviewed, I limited myself to focusing on other aspects of the administration and living conditions at the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. Bei ng a topic of relevance, this section attempts to bring insight into cooperative members income at the fundo. Income in the fundo did not seem to be currently linked to the production units level of production and acquisition of capital T he limited production of the fundo required the government to continue subsidizing the fundo which is not yet economically self -sustainable. According to a government 2005 investment plan (Annex 7 ) the government provided for a five month scholarship of US $ 752 or $150.40 a month for every cooperative member in the fundo (resembling the scholarships obtained under Misin Vuelvan Caras) It is unclear if these scholarships have ended. Aside from this scholarship, cooperative members were to benefit from the revenue obtain ed from selling their production and advances from loans

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159 After paying back the ir loans ( many of which have been pardoned), saving 30 % of their earnings for their social fund and selling at the regulated prices in a government run market, cooperatives were allowed to distribute between them the rest of th eir profits. Obtaining limited revenues, some sort of income is probably still provided by the government It is likely that the cooperatives are receiving a separate source of funding, since they have increasingly relied on wage labor Wage laborers, who represented t he majority of the people in the fundo, wer e paid differently by cooperatives Unfortunately I was not able to compare the salaries obtained by different hired workers at different cooperatives However, it is likely that the disparity in sala ry between hired workers was not substantial. At Lanceros Productivos they paid their hired workers US $ 97.70 a week plus food or US $390.80 a month This salary is higher than the salary obtained from participating in Misin Vuelvan Caras or the amount of money given by the government to cooperative members according to the production plan. Likely, the cooperatives had either no choice but to pay the high price farm labor currently has on the market and / or they may have alternative sourc es of income, either from the government or a n outside source. Advances on credit are maybe utilized to pay for wage laborers. T he workers hired by the cooperative members considered their wages to be appropriate. It is hard to explain from the available d ocuments or from the details provided in the interviews, how these cooperatives are sustainable. During my visit, c ooperative members complained about the high salaries of the government employees. The head of the Comando Zamorano earned over Bs $ 5 milli on or US $ 2 325.6 0 a month, while the INTI engineers earned over Bs $ 3 million or US $ 1 395.30 a

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160 month. Cooperative members complained about not having received financial support in a timely fashion from the government at the beginning of the invasion of La Argentina Following the presidents call to arms, various members of the fundo had left more lucrative jobs in the city in order to join Misin Vuelvan Caras and the Fundos Zamoranos Committed to the revolution, they were willing to experience diffic ulties and in some cases live belo w their income from their previous vocation. Since the project is not currently self -sufficient, if the financial support of the government ended some members of the fundo would be forced to leave the project as they would be unable to continue to provide for themselves and their families. Without continued government support until the cooperatives become productive, the fundo will not be able to survive, particularly if the increased need for hired labor and its high costs continues. Summary The Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt is an example of government efforts to improve the living conditions of the campesino by redistribut ing land and bring ing about an integral rural development Through interviews and an examination of go vernment documents, I was able to analyze t he problems and achievements of Alejandro de Humboldt. With over 5,000 hectares and with a government expenditure of 7 to 15 million dollars, Alejandro de Humboldt is a major government project in the state of Monagas and it ha s improved the lives of many previously landless campesinos The Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt is a story of moderate success. T he members of Alejandro de Humbol dt experienced difficulties withstanding opposition from the previous land owners and transforming the land into an economically sustainable project In addition, life at the fundo, without adequate housing, water supply and electricity has been

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161 difficult. Since its consolidation, living conditi ons in the fundo have improved, production has increased, and most cooperatives have gone through a reorganization process. If Alejandro de Humboldt serves as a microcosm of the aggregate changes taking place in Venezuela, the agrarian reform has brought about an increas e in employment and a reduction in poverty but it has also experienced problems in management, efficiency, declining cooperati ve membership and productivity This study summarizes the story of Alejandro de Humboldt, yet regional agricultural differences, different origins of the cooperative members, and different levels of support from the government may account for substantial differences between the fundos Analyzing a group of Fundos Zamoranos would permit a better evaluation of thei r impact throughout the country.

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162 Table 4 1 Interviews to Cooperative Me mbers at Alejandro de Humboldt 2008 # Gender Field Exp Status Production Unit Main Problem Reason Members Left Previous Employment 1 Male Yes M Lanceros Prod Roads Family Reasons Teacher E 2 Male No M Lanceros Prod Electricity Conditions at FZ Diverse Act U 3 Male Yes W Lanceros Prod Electricity Was not there Soldier U 4 Male Yes M La Carcajada Roads Income Driver U 5 Male Yes M La Carcajada Roads Conditions at FZ Guard R 6 Male No M Cruitupano Electricity Conditions at FZ Student U 7 Female No M Cruitupano Schools Income Service U 8 Male Yes M Ro Amana Roads Income Producer E 9 Male Yes W Ro Amana Electricity Was not there Diverse Act U 10 Female No M Salom Betania Roads Family Reasons Teacher E 11 Male Yes W Salom Betania Roads Income Guard U 12 Male Yes M Juan Dvila Roads Was not there Farmer E 13 Male Yes W Juan Dvila Roads Was not there Mechanic E 14 Male Yes W Juan Dvila Roads Was not there Student E 15 Male Yes M Domingo Poito Roads Was not there Taxi Driver E 16 Male Yes W Domingo Poito Electricity Was not there Student U 17 Male Yes M Hidropnica Roads Family Reasons Farm Worker U 18 Male Yes M Hidropnica Housing Conditions at FZ Diverse Act U 19 Male Yes A F undo Z amorano Roads Conditions at FZ Government E Note: M = Member / W = Worker / A = Agronomist / U = Unemployed / E = Employed / R = Retired ; So urce: Field Notes

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163 Table 4 2 Original Production Units, Hectares and Current Status N Production Unit Type of Unit Status Has. Vuelvan Caras 1 Lanceros Productivos Cooperative Active 116.5 Yes 2 La Carcajada 421 Cooperative Active 124.9 Yes 3 Cruitupano Cooperative Active 177.5 Yes 4 Labradores de la Patria Cooperative Active 134.4 Yes 5 Hidropnica Maturn Cooperative Active 133.6 Yes 6 Nuevo Amanecer Cooperative Active 116.7 Yes 7 Agrotcnica Ro Amana Civil Association Active 314.9 No 8 Lanceros 2021 Cooperative Inactive 170.4 Yes 9 Vencedores 543 Cooperative Inactive 118.5 Yes 10 Moriche III Milenio Cooperative Inactive 496.4 No 11 Trabajo Agrario Cooperative Inactive 449.2 No 12 Agrcolas Vivoral 2021 Cooperative Inactive 490 .0 No 13 Gente Productiva Civil Association Inactive 386.7 No 14 Alejandro de Humboldt Fundo Zamorano Active 4,831.3 Source: Government Documents Table 4 3 Production Units and Status 2008 Production Unit Observations Agrotcnica Ro Amana Living o n their lands Lanceros Productivos Living o n their lands Cruitupano Living o n their lands Hidropnica Maturn Living o n their lands La Carcajada 421 Living o n their lands Domingo Blas Poito Living o n their lands Juan Dvila Living o n their lands Labradores de la Patria Living o n their lands Nuevo Amanecer Living o n their lands Moriche III Milenio Do not live there Agrarian loan was awarded to Juan Dvila Vencedores 543 Do not live there since November 2006 Lanceros 2021 Do not live there since March 2007 Gente Productiva A man not belonging to the cooperative is living there Trabajo Agrario Never occupied Agrarian loan was given to the Maniceros Agrcolas Vivoral 2021 They never inhabited their lands Source: Government Documents

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164 Table 4 4 Summary of Production Unit Membership Counts (2005 2008) Cooperative 10/21/2005 6/4/2007 11/29/2007 3/14/2008 Belonging to Misin Vuelvan Caras Cooperative Cruitupano 35 18 19 13 Cooperative Hidropnica Maturn 28 15 11 8 Cooperative La Carcajada 421 31 15 14 7 Coop erative Labradores de la Patria 24 11 10 8 Cooperative Lanceros 2021 22 10 10 8 Cooperative Lanceros Productivos 27 10 9 7 Cooperative Nuevo Amanecer 12 15 10 Cooperative Vencedores 543 11 12 11 Not Belonging to Misin Vuelvan Caras Cooperative Tapericual 7 Cooperative Salom Betania. 5 6 Cooperative Moriche III Milenio* 6 6 Cooperative Trabajo Agrario 11 6 7 Cooperative Vivoral 2021 9 9 Cooperative El Botaln 6 8 Civil Association Ro Amana 5 5 Civil Association Gente Productiva 11 Civil Association Araguaney Guariqueo 6 Independent Producer Juan Dvila 1 Independent Producer Domingo Poito 1 Aggregate Values Mean Vuelvan Caras 28 12.8 12.5 9.0 Mean Not Vuelvan Caras 6.8 7.4 5.7 Mean Aggregate 28 10.8 10.5 7.2 Total Vuelvan Caras 167 100 72 Total Not Vuelvan Caras 37 51 Total Alejandro de Humboldt 167 138 137 121 Note: No longer active ; Source: Government Documents

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165 Table 4 5 Alejandro de Humboldt Membership Count July 2007 Name of the Cooperative Men Women Total Agrotcnica Ro Amana 3 2 5 Cruitupano 13 5 18 Gente Productiva 9 2 11 Hidropnica Maturn 5 10 15 La Carcajada 421 11 4 15 Labradores de la Patria 7 4 11 Lanceros 2021 6 4 10 Lanceros Productivos 7 3 10 Nuevo Amanecer 5 7 12 Moriche III Milenio* 4 2 6 Trabajo Agrario 3 3 6 Vencedores 543 7 4 11 Viboral 2021 7 2 9 Totals 87 52 139 Percentages 62.6% 37.4% 100% Note: Totally Abandoned ; Source: Government Documents Table 4 6 Alejandro de Humboldt Membership Count March 2008 Name of the Cooperative Men Women Total Araguaney Guariqueo 5 1 6 Cruitupano 9 4 13 Hidropnica Maturn 5 3 8 La Carcajada 421 6 1 7 Labradores de la Patria 5 3 8 Lanceros 2021 6 2 8 Lanceros Productivos 4 3 7 Nuevo Amanecer 7 3 10 Salom Betania 3 3 6 Tapericual 5 2 7 Trabajo Agrario 3 4 7 Vencedores 543 5 6 11 Viboral 2021 6 3 9 El Botaln 5 3 8 Moriche III Milenio 4 2 6 Totals 78 43 121 Percentages 64.5% 35.5% 100% Note: Totally Abandoned ; Source: Government Documents

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166 Table 4 7 Surface Utility 2008 Utility Hectares Cattle 457.5 Crop 132.5 Tourism 0 Commercial 0 Residential 80 Forest 0 Aquifers 39 Natural Reserve 300 Unused Surface 4,241.3 Total Utilized Surface 590 Total Surface 4,831.3 Source: Government Documents Table 4 8 Type of Terrains at Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Type of Terrain Percentage Partially Forested Sabana 51% Mid Forested Sabana 17% Natural Open Sabana 16% Periodically Flooded Sabana 5% Riverside Forest (Morichales) 5% Improve d Pasture ( Branchiaria Humidicola) 5% River B ank 1% Densely Forested Sabana 0.10% Totals 100% Source: Government Documents Table 4 9 Land Typology Alejandro de Humboldt Land Classification Type of Land Percentage Land Type IV (For Agricultural Use Worst Quality) 7% Land Type VI (For Cattle Use Second Quality) 78% Land Type VII (Forestry First Quality) 15% Source: Government Document s

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167 Table 4 10 Production Units, their Conditions, and Requests to the Government Production Unit Water for Consumption Electric Power Lanceros Productivos Well Very deficient Nuevo Amanecer Well Reliable Electricity 400 Meters La Carcajada 421 Well Very deficient El Araguaney Guariqueo Well Very deficient Hidropnica Maturn Well Very deficient Labradores de la Patria Well Very deficient Salom Betania No Water Reliable Electricity 200 Meters Gente Productiva No Water Reliable Electricity 150 Meters Agrotcnica Ro Amana Well Very deficient Cruitupano Well Very deficient Lanceros 2021 Well Very deficient Note: All cooperatives mentioned the n eed for a Mercal and a K thru 12 school. Some cooperatives also reported the need for a Police Module and emphasized how current conditions continue to endanger crops. Cooperatives mentioned their previous involvement in Misin Ribas, Sucre, Barrio Adentro, and Misin Robinson ; Source: Government Document s Table 4 11 Lunch Daily Meal Recording 2008 Date Diet June 17, 2008 Chicken Soup, Water, Coffee, Watermelon June 18, 2008 Chicken Soup, Water, Coffee, Cassava June 23, 2008 Eggs, Pasta, Water, Coffee, Plantain June 24, 2008 Cool Aid, Pasta, Tuna, Watermelon June 25, 2008 Corn Rolls, Sardines, Soda, Watermelon June 26, 2008 Cool Aid, Pasta, Sardines, Cassava July 2, 2008 Corn Rolls, Cool Aid, Watermelon, Soup July 3, 2008 Chicken Soup, Water, Coffee, Plantain, Cassava July 15, 2008 Chicken Soup, Water, Coffee, Plantain July 16, 2008 Sardines, Pasta, Water, Coffee, Watermelon July 17, 2008 Chicken, Eggs, Water, Armadillo, Arepas July 18, 2008 Eggs, Cool Aid, Coffee, Watermelon August 6, 2008 Pasta, Water, Cassava, Chicken Soup August 7, 2008 Rice, Coffee, Soda, Cool Aid, Beans August 8, 2008 Eggs, Arepas, Water, Chicken, Plantain Source: Field Notes

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168 Table 4 12 Cooperative Production Plans 2005 2006 Cooperative Bitter Cassava Sweet Cassava Soy Watermelon Total Cruitupano 17.5 17.5 52.5 17.5 105 La Carcajada 421 7 7 54 68 Lanceros Productivos 27 13.5 40.5 5 86 Hidropnica Maturn 28 14 42 5 89 Labradores de la Patria 24 12 36 5 77 Lanceros 2021 22 11 33 11 77 Totals 125.5 75 258 43.5 502 Source: Government Documents Table 4 13 2005 2006 Production Plan Total Crop Cycle Crops Planted Area (has) Yield (Kg/has) Production (Kg.) Cost of Production (US /h as) Total Costs (US) Bitter Cassava 125.5 15,000 1,882,500 492 61,767 Sweet Cassava 75.0 15,000 1,125,000 453 33,942 Soy 258.0 1,200 309,600 513 132,317 Watermelon 43.5 20,000 870,000 438 19,063 Total 502 1,896 247,089 Crops Surface (has) Consumption (Kg) Remaining Volume (Kg) Price for Producers (US/Kg) Earnings (US) Bitter Cassava 125.5 0 1,882,500 .20 376, 500 Sweet Cassava 75.0 5,000 1,120,000 .18 201, 600 Soy 258.0 0 309,600 .21 65, 376 Watermelon 43.5 5,000 865,000 .55 475, 146 Total 502 1,118, 623 Source: Government Documents

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169 Table 4 1 4 Agricultural Productio n January 2007 Production Unit A B C D E F G H I J Belonging to Vuelvan Caras La Carcajada 421 20 4 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 27 Labradores de la Patria 65 0 0 2 0 12 0.5 0 0 79 Hidropnica Maturn 6 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10.5 Cruitupano 35 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 37 Lanceros 2021 71 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 71 Vencedores 543 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 Lanceros Prod uctivos 57 0 20 0 1 0 0 0 0 78 Nuevo Amanecer 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 Total 304 8 21 6 1 12 0.5 0 0 352.5 Not Belonging to Vuelvan Caras Gente Productiva 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Agrotcnica Ro Amana 0 0 0 0 0 12 0 12 0 26 Moriche III Milenio* 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Vivoral 2021* 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 Trabajo Agrario* 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Total 0 0 0 0 0 12 0 12 0 26 Aggregate Total 304 8 21 6 1 24 0.5 12 2 378.5 Note: No Longer Active / A = Bitter Cassava / B = Sweet Cassava / C= Beans / D = Passion Fruit / E = Sweet Aji (Chili) Pepper / F = Lemon / G = Paprika / H = Pineapple / I = Mango / J = Total Production. Source: Government Documents Table 4 15 2008 Planting and Expected Harvest Crop Initial Has. by Feb 2008 Has. Planted by Dec 2008 Has. Harvested by Dec 2008 Has. Remaining by Dec 2008 White Corn 0 480 480 0 Sorghum 50 480 50 480 Cassava 62 40 20 82 Potatoes 1 10 11 0 Peanuts 150 110 240 0 Sweet Aji Pepper 2 0.3 2.3 2.3 Calabaza 1 10 11 0 Watermelon 4 9 13 0 Melon 0 10 6 4 Plantain 4.5 5.5 10 10 Pineapple 13 3 8 8 Passion Fruit 9 0 9 9 Soy 115 0 115 0 Total 411.5 1,157.8 975.3 595.3 Source: Government Documents

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170 Table 4 16 Dual Purpose Cattle Approved Financing July 2007 N Production Unit(s) Cows Bulls Amount (US) 1 Araguaney Guariqueo 50 2 145,450 2 El Botaln 60 2 169,410 3 La Carcajada 421 40 2 186,226 4 Labradores de la Patria 40 2 143,721 5 Lanceros Productivos 50 2 173,377 6 Nuevo Amanecer 40 2 114,450 7 Tapericual 40 2 116,428 8 Salom Betania 50 2 132,410 Total 370 16 1,181,472 Source: Government Documents Table 4 17 Animal Production at Alejandro de Humboldt December 2007 System of Production Number Category Number Pigs 131 Sows 22 Piglets 106 Boar 3 Rabbits 23 Mothers 4 Young Bunnies 18 Adult Male 1 Egg Laying Chickens 1,300 Source: Government Documents Table 4 18 Inventory Survey December 2007 Tools Held by Cooperatives In the Deposit Missing Total Axe 1 0 1 2 Saw 0 1 0 1 Machete N 22 25 41 1 67 Machete N 18 25 42 1 68 Hoe 31 35 2 68 Rake 24 37 7 68 Pairs of Gloves 54 64 19 137 File 25 97 12 134 Square Shovel 21 47 0 68 Pikes 25 43 0 68 Backpack Sprayer 5 0 0 5 Cart 8 4 0 12 Total 245 411 43 699 Source: Government Documents

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171 Table 4 19 Existing Equipment December 2007 Description Quantity Condition Active Inactive Planter 3 2 1 High Pressure Sprinkler 1 1 0 Manual Sprayer 15 15 0 Harrow 12 8 4 High Pressure Sprayer 2 2 0 Fertilizer Spreader 2 2 0 Lime Spreader 1 1 0 Tractor 12 6 6 Harvester 1 0 1 Source: Government Documents Table 4 20 Equipment Needed December 2007 Description Quantity Rotativa 3 Rotating Chopper 2 Planter 2 Hay Baler 1 Scythe 2 Grass cutter 5 Subsoiler 1 Fertilizer Spreader 2 Tank Truck 4 6 tine Cultivator 2 Tractor 5 Source: Government Documents Table 4 21 Financing and Investments July 2007 Source of Financing Amount (US) FONDAFA 1,477,405 FONDEMI 101,395 BANMUJER 89,890 Total 1,668,691 Source: Government Documents

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172 Figure 4 1 Political Map of the State of Monagas, Venezuela Source: CNTI (2008) Modified by Alfonso Sintjago Figure 4 2 Organization of Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. Source: Field Notes

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173 Figure 4 3 Government Technicians Source: Field Notes Figure 4 4 Average Rain Fall Source: Government Documents

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174 Figure 4 5 A truck being rescued by a tractor after getting stuck in the mud Source: Picture by Hector Rojas Figure 4 6 The government working on road construction from Curiepe to the Fundo Source: authors field work (unless stated otherwise all ot her pictures are from my field work)

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175 Figure 4 7 A morichal and river at the edge of the fundo Figure 4 8 Inner fundo landscape and roads

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176 Figure 4 9 La Carcajada, a wind operated pump, and an Australian tank being upgraded Figure 4 1 0 The Australian tank at Labradores de la Patria

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177 Figure 4 11. Hidropnica Maturn, their zinc house, and a block house under construction in the background Figure 4 12. La Carcajadas block house under construction

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178 Figure 4 13. A worker cleaning a criolla chicken for a meal Figure 4 14. An armadillo hunted that evening

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179 Figure 4 15. Remains of the failed peanut crop Figure 4 16. Machinery left behind utilized for harvesting peanuts

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180 Figure 4 17. Pipes obtained from an oil rig used to create cattle fences Figure 4 18. The first calf brought to La Carcajada

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181 Figure 4 19. A group of piglets born that day at Lanceros Productivos Figure 4 20. Pig pen at Lanceros Productivos, including the Padrote

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182 Figure 4 21. Egg laying chickens at Hidropnica Maturn Figure 4 22. Eggs collected at Hidropnica Maturn

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183 Figure 4 232 Chickens grown for personal consumption at Domingo Blas Poito Figure 4 24. Ducks at La Carcajada

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184 Figure 4 25. Abandoned Passion Fruit Trellises Figure 4 26. Pineapple Field

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185 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION Venezuelas highly polarized political climate has surrounded the current agrarian reform i n controversy. Chvez s agraria n reform and the majority of his government s programs are criticized by the opposition as inefficient, clientelistic, unsustainable and promoting dependency. In contrast to the se claims, government programs have been applauded by the international community including the UN, CEPAL, and the WHO for decreasing inequality and improving social conditions in Venezuela (INE, 2009; WHO, 2006) The intensity of the criticism and the high level of investment by the current administration in social programs motivat ed my study of the impact of the 2001 Land of Lands and Agrarian Development. Previous studies by Soto (2006), Delong (2005), Ramachandran (2006) Woods, (2005), and Wilpert (2006) cover the general aspects of the agrarian reform yet there are no in depth studies of how the agrarian refo rm is being implemented at the local level Similarly, the studies of Chacn (2004), Bowman (2005), Garcia and Higuerey (2005), Osta, Mendoza, and Giraldo (2005), Rojas (2006), provide insight into the government misiones and the cooperative movement, yet there is a lack of in depth studies of Misin Vuelvan Caras and other government development programs attempting to reoganize rural labor into agrarian production cooperatives. This thesis presented a case study of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humbold t in the state of Monagas It serves to provide insight into the realtively unknown Fundos Zamoranos and their role in the agrarian reform. As a primarily descriptive study of a specific Fundo Zamorano this study suggests what may possibly be happening i n other Fundos Zamoranos and agrarian NDE s around the country. The conclusion is organized according to the major issues surrounding the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. In addition, some suggestions for

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186 improving the efficiency of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt and areas for further research are proposed. Land Inequality One of the greatest achievements of the current agrarian reform has been the distribution of over 4.5 million hectares to as many as 400,000 families The agrarian reform h as undoubtedly reduced land concentration in Venezuela. In the case of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt, the Bermudez Association had been the dubious owner of 5,213 hectares which were unproductive although profitable since the Association collect ed revenues from the government for the power installations on its land Since 2001, 4,831 hectares have been set aside for production. Through the development of infrastructure these hectares can now be harvested and increase the food securit y and provid e income for formerly landless workers and contribute to the food self -sufficiency of Venezuela. Currently, 121 producers, mostly heads of families, are members of the fundo. These previously landless campesinos have finally obtained land to call their own Despite the temporary nature of the Cartas Agrarias the government has enhanced production rights among the campesinos. The government has awarded temporary documents and limited the sale of land in order to prevent its reconcentration by abs entee land owners. It is the government s intention to empower the campesino and provide him with the tools to surpass his previous, impoverished condition as a hired worker, shar ecropper, or subsistence farmer In the case of Alejandro de Humboldt, campesinos and i mpoverished urban workers have obtained access to land that was previously denied to them under other Venezuelan governments. Under the current agrarian reform, the dream of Zamora, Tierra y Hombres Libres (Land and Free Men), is a possibility for a good number of landless campesinos

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187 Problems of Cooperative Membership The r etention of member s posed a major problem for the cooperatives of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt, a problem found elsewhere.1 The difficulty cooperatives are facing in maint aining their membership is affecting the survivability of the Fundos Zamoranos. At Alejandro de Humboldt, average cooperative membership fell from 28 in 2005 to 7 in 2008, and some cooperatives are close to being legally inoperable being under the minimum prescribed size Among the major reasons for the decline in membership in the fundos are administrative breakdown, the initial living conditions at the fundo, low incomes, and strained family relationships The high level of administrative disorganization can be linked to the short and inadequate level of preparation of the Vuelvan Caras program. Having no previous experience working in cooperatives, and different degrees of commitment, the cooperative members experienced difficulties in decision -making ; i n addition cooperative administrators are poorly trained to manage its resources. The hard living conditions at Alejandro de Humboldt led to a decline in cooperative membership. During the first year, cooperative members lived in makeshift buildings lacking basic resources such as electricity and running water. Depending on the Fundo Zamorano, these basic services may or may not be available. Poor road conditions are also a major strain for members of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt. Located in previously underutilized lands devoid of basic infrastructure, 1 During my visits to the state of Aragua in summer 2008, I visited the Fundo Zamorano Batalla de la Victoria whose total membership (sum of all the different cooperatives within the fundo) had diminished from 54 members to 28 members from 2003 to 2008. Another Fundo Zamorano I visited, Jos Feliz Ribas, had seen i t s total membership fall from 88 members to 30 members during the same time period. An article in El Universal regarding Fundo Juanmontey in Cojedes reported that out of the original 200 members in 2003, there were only 80 left by 2008 (Poliszuk, 2008).

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188 it was difficult for cooperative members to initially travel to and from the fundo, limiting cooperative members ability to maintain other occupations outside the fundo. This along and with lo w earnings on the cooperative forced some members to leave the m seek employment elsewhere. Low incomes were the second most important reason for the fall in the number of members. A decrease in household income and a prolonged time away from their families led to the straining of relationships. A number of previous cooperative members left after their wives or husbands were considering ending their relationships. The decrease in membership has led the cooperatives to r ely increasingly on hired labor. T his goes against a major objective of the government in promoting cooperative formation. T he F u ndo Zamorano Alejandro the Humboldt has needed to hired labor to put their land into production. Despite the major difficulties faced by the cooperatives at Alejandro de Humboldt most cooperatives in the fundo are currently active. In 2008 the remaining cooperative members are able to work together and meet their production plans. This is partly because they have been able to hire wage workers. While the decrease in membership poses a major problem, these obstacles have also strengthened the cooperatives. Having only a few members, cooperatives members are better able to work together. Despite problems with inputs, machinery, climate, communication, and a limited number of workers, the cooperative members and the hired workers were able to plant the 480 he ctares of corn and meet goal of the Plan Emergente. The cooperatives would benefit by offering membership to some of the hired workers. By offering membership to those that are interested and have worked with a cooperative for six months or the time the co operative deems fit, a cooperative is able to recruit members who are

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189 productive and with whom they work well together. In addition, with the conversion to cattle production, the cooperatives at the fundo will diminish their need for new members. Moving to cattle ranching and recruiting productive workers will increase the future efficiency of the cooperatives. Improvement of Living Standards Poverty is particularly high in the rural areas of Venezuela, especially among landless peasants. The Fundos Zamoranos have address ed poverty by providing employment to a substantial sector of the unemployed rural population. Over half of the cooperative members that I interviewed at the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt had been unemployed prior to coming to the fundo. In addition to the 121 members at Alejandro de Humboldt, there is large number of hired workers. Most of these workers are paid as well or better than for working for other producers. In addition, by working for a cooperative they could eventually be invited to join and become a member. There was a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie in most of the cooperatives in the fundo. In most cooperatives units, everyone worked as an equal, ate the same food, slept in the same place, hunted and celebrated toge ther. Previously providing work for only a few workers the lands of La Argentina now financ ially support over 200 families. However, living conditions remain precarious at the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt which still lacks adequate housing and el ectricity. The government has slowly improved the infrastructure at Alejandro de Humboldt, but such has required the constant mobilization of the vocero and members of the fundo. A further improvement in the lives of the members of the fundo will take plac e when the government finishes the road development, housing objectives, as well as other community goals such as the development of a school, a nearby Mercal and a health facility. The further enhancement and interrelationship with other

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190 government mision es near the fundo should bring about an integral rural development in the area. Availability of Credit Availability of credit as a result of the Chvezs agrarian reform has benefited both private and cooperative producers. The members of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt have been able to obtain a variety of low interest loans to boost their production. The government has awarded loans for both animal and crop production. The level of credit awarded for agricultural production increased from 645,288 million Bolivars in 1997 to 4,483,977 million Bolivars on 2005 (Soto, 2006) The Chvez government has also awarded over 4.8 billion Bolivars in direct investment to producers (INTI, 2007) Prior to the Chvezs administration, obtaining loans had become increasingly difficult and private interest rates had reached as high as 11 % to 18 % However, a major critique of the governments credit policy has been that it has been too lax in the dist ribution of credit and in recovering debts. T he different government credit institutions have been lenient in forgiving the debts of the cooperatives. The governments leniency in accepting producers crop failures and lack of strenuous checks against fraud will endanger credit institutions. It is likely that some members of the fundo have misused government loans. Government leniency in awarding credit has resulted in the perversi on of some cooperative members whose objective may include the utilization of loans for personal enrichment. Currently, a high number of ghost cooperative s could be taking advantage of government funds. At Alejandro de Humboldt, some production units obtained thousands of dollars in funds which are now unaccounted for. Some gov ernment investments, including an irrigation system, are currently deteriorating on unutilized lands previously awarded to a now inactive cooperative.

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191 According to producers, the government has since improved its accountability. Many of these producers ha ve faith the government w ill crack down on the misuse of government funds and impr ison some of these individuals. Part of the problem with the lack of accountability is the result of poor financial record keeping. Until 2008, most production units at the F undo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt kept very vague or no financi al records. Despite the investment of millions of dollars, there have only been limited returns in terms of agricultural production at the fundo. Conflict between Members, Production Units and Technicians As discussed in the previous chapter, conflict between different parties in the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt is common. This high level of conflict between the different parties and fear of outsiders or individuals who are not close adherents to their ideology is not limited to the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt.2 The lack of effective communication between the government, its employees, and the cooperative members at different Fundos Zamoranos has resulted i n unnecessary crop failures, violent confrontations, and coordination and administration problems. At Alejandro de Humboldt, a major cause for mistrust was the lack of an extension agronomist who stayed and lived at the fundo. A government official permanently located at the fundo would serve as an intermediary between the entities and would likely result in a greater understanding between the parties. Greater interaction between all parties would be helpful and perha ps reduce the delay in executing government promises. Howe ver, even with an 2 During m y short visit to two Fundo Zamoranos in the state of Aragua, a CIARA extension agronomist who lived with a NDE was on one occasion kidnapped by the members of the NDE over a disagreement. Even though she had been living there and the members of the NDE trusted her, to express their dissatisfaction with the support given to them by the government, they locked up a group of visiting government workers in a building for days as hostages as they bargained for an improvement in their conditions. In her NDE just as in Alejandro de Humboldt, there was a high level of distrust of government officials.

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192 extensionist, conflict could arise if the government is not attentive to the needs of the members of the fundo. Another source of conflict with the government arises from the fear of counter revolutionary holdovers in the government insti tutions. Having experienced persecution and assassinations, campesinos are weary of gov ernment officials and strangers Having faced intimidation from the previous owners, and a lack of support from the local police, there is an understandable mistrust of visitors and of government officials This mistrust may fade with time. In addition, the recent changes of administration in the United States with the election of President Obama may result in better relationships with the United States as well as increased access to researchers and scholars who may be able to conduct a more in -depth study of the Fundos Zamoranos The Fear of Expropriation A negative effect of Chvezs agrarian reform has been the increased fear of expropriation, not only of large, but also medium -size producers. Chvez has redefined the latifundio as properties in which there is an absentee land owner and where wage workers are paid less than the minimum wage. As a result, absentee middle -size land owners, many of whom may have obta ined their land as a result of the previous agrarian reform, fear being expropriated. As the country modifies its laws, private land owners fear the abolition of private property and the transformation of their land titles into temporary production rights. In addition, t he aleatoric nature of the government classifications of lands as underproductive has been a source of concern among private land owners. The difficulties faced by many owners in proving their ownership of land, albeit as a result of fake la nd titles or inadequate documentation of their property, has led to the fear that the government could at any moment expr opriate them During my interviews with medium -size

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193 private farmers, they complained about the arbitrary nature of the government expropriations. Private producers felt that the land regularization process permitted the government to designate any land titles as illegal. Increasing uncertainty about land ownership and government price controls has decreased large land owners incentives t o invest in their property. Having alternative sources of income, some private producers have stopped investing in their landholdings. Th e difficulty in finding able workers is another obstacle for private producers. Ideas for the Improvement of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt During my time at Alejandro de Humboldt, I lived with the workers and heard their stories, including their opinions as to how conditions in the fundo could be improved. Often small solutions to problems could improve conditi ons. Some of these changes may be implemented shortly. Among the recommendations for improvements made by the members were having an agronomist or other government worker assigned permanently to the fundo. They did not understand why the agronomists, who a re well paid by the government to work primarily on their fundo, could not find a way to visit the fundo on a regular basis. The government is aware of the benefits of having an agronomist living on the fundo.3 Road conditions greatly hinder the movement of inputs, crops, and communication between cooperatives. By improving road conditions the fundo would be more accessible and permit constant transit from the fundo to the city or among the cooperatives on Alejandro de Humboldt. During my visit the governm ent was addressing this problem. Without improving 3 During my visit to the fundos in Aragua, a recent graduate from the Central University of Venezuela [UCV] was serving as an extension agronomist in a NDE and living there she had been able to build a strong relationship with the cooperative members.

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194 road conditions, the achievements of the fundo could be lost as cooperatives continue to lose members and possibly go under. To further improve communication and form a cooperative of the second degree, the fundo would benefit from a Casa Zamorana, and a reliable cell phone signal or portable radio transmitter device. The distance between the cooperatives and their need to share machinery and production efforts was hindered by their inability to communicate Hours were lost on a regular basis attempting to locate someone in the fundo or locate a particular input. Improvement of communications and roads would increase the fundos ability to adequately utilize their limited resources, particularly now with a r educed number of cooperative members. The fundo would also benefit from a redistribution of land. As a result of a declining number of cooperative members, land is again being concentrated in the fundo in the sense that a few cooperative members and other individuals have access to a very large amount of land. As land is concentrated in a few hands, the employment gains may be lost and the remaining cooperative members begin to resemble private producers. Some of the cooperatives also complained about part of the lands of the fundo having been awarded to individual private producers as a result of political connections. Further Research This study fills an im portant gap in the literature on the Venezuela agrarian reform, providing insight into the changes taking place on the ground. Chvez s attempt to transform the Venezuelan economy is having a strong impact on poverty and land distribution, particularly in improving the conditions of the small farmer or campesino It would be worthwhile to carry out addi tional case studies of other Fundos Zamoranos or agrarian NDE s and contrast their experiences in cooperative formation and organization, as well as their productivity. Also, the particular impact of the fundos on the surrounding areas has not been research ed.

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195 An in -depth comparative analysis of five or more fundos would provide a better perspective of the impact of this rural development program. A cost benefit analysis of the F undos Z amoranos might encourage increasing the ir efficiency. While rising oil pr ices permitted the government to implement a large number of social programs, continued improvement of the efficiency of the se programs is needed to prevent the misuse of government resources and the continuation of unsustainable programs. Another path for further research would be to update the general analysis of the re form. Soto (2006), Wilpert (2006) among others provided an overview of the general trends of the agrarian reform in its initial years. T he initial years of the Chvez s agrarian revolut ion led to a major redistribution of land and the transformation of the agrarian landscape, yet a more recent analysis would show whether or not the reform has led to an integral rural development, increasing food s elf -sufficiency and brought an end to the latifundio minifundio dichotomy. The rapid rate of developments in Venezuela warrant an update of the general impact of the agrarian reform. Further research is also needed on the cooperati ve movement in Venezuela. Rojas s (2006) in -depth study of the structure of the Vuelvan Caras cooperatives showed worrisome trends about the nature of the current cooperative movement. A study of the variables influencing the success and failure of Vuelvan Caras cooperatives as well as suggestions on how to improve t he success of cooperatives as sustainable economic enterprises would help Venezuelan policymakers in transforming the Venezuelan economy into a new economically competitive form of socialism. S tudying the changes taking place in Venezuela and its Bolivari an Revolution should benefit scholars of Latin America studies, particularly the literature on the agrarian reform

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196 experience Venezuela is currently implementing innovative ideas which other countries in Latin America might learn from.

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197 A PPENDIX ADDITIO NAL DOCUMENTS Annex 1 : Guide for the open ended interviews used in this study 1 What was your occupation before joining the cooperative? 2 How was this land obtained by the cooperative? Who was the previous owner of this land? The state? Private businessmen? Was it cultivated ? 3 What is your opinion of the agrarian reform? 4 Besides the agrarian reform, what other government programs have had a l arge impact addressing the needs of the community? What missions are successful and which missions can be considered a failure? 5 How do the missions complement and interrelate with each other? 6 Has the government provided sufficient assistance? What type of aid is missing? 7 What is the most important need of the cooperative members right now? a In terms of cooperative production b In terms of members well being 8 Is there a food shortage in this cooperative? In this region? 9 Is there any relationship between the f ood shortage and the agrarian reform as some contend? If so why? What do you think is the primary reason for the lack of foodstuffs in urban supermarkets? 10What do you think of the Zamorano Brigades? 11Who are the winners and losers of the agrarian reform? H as the net impact been positive? 12In the aggregate, have living conditions for the rural population improved as a result of the agrarian reform? 13What has been the level of production on this cooperative? If the land was obtained through expropriation: Is pr oduction currently as high as or higher than it was before this farm was expropriated? 14If production is lower: Can production reach previous and even higher levels under a cooperative framework? 15If production is not lower: What have been the most impor tant factors in maintaining or increasing productivity? 16What economic model should Venezuela follow for its development? 17What political model should Venezuela follow for its development? 18How has the agrarian reform affected agrarian production in the state of Monagas? 19How has the agrarian reform affected agrarian production in the county of Maturn ? 20How does the cooperative decide what and when to plant? Are the decisions made by the whole cooperative, a board, a manager, the state, etc?

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198 Annex 2 : Governmen t document calling for the election of the vocero

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199 Annex 3 : Government d ocument denouncing idle lands within Alejandro de Humboldt (1st of 3 letters)

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201 Annex 4 : A detailed planting plan analysis of sour and sweet cassava by the government

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202 Annex 5 : Document regarding damaged tractors at Alejandro de Humboldt

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203 Annex 6 : Government document citing inappropriate use of machinery by Lanceros Productivos

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204 Annex 7 : Investment Plan 2005 Investment Plan, First Stage October 2005 Description Unit Quantity Unit Cost (USD) Direct Cost (USD) Economic Planning Agricultural Crops Sour Cassava Has. 125.5 915.4 114,886.5 Sweet Cassava Has. 75 915.4 68,657.3 Soy Has. 258 535.1 138,066.1 Watermelon Has. 43.5 939.0 40,846.5 Subtotal Agricultural Crops 502 362,456.3 Infrastructure and Production Services: Construction of one storage unit 100m 2 6 26,446.5 158,679.1 Australian water tank, 53,000 liters 6 1,340.8 8,044.9 Windmill TOROTRAC 10m 8" 6 2,883.7 17,302.3 Well 20m, 4" 6 9,302.3 55,814.0 Pot for production of fertilizers 6 214.9 1,289.3 Subtotal Infrastructure and Production Services 241,129.6 Equipment and Tools: Electrical Plant TJ 150 Diesel 6 27307.0 163,841.9 Diesel water pump 8 HP 6 1807.0 10,842.2 Agricultural Sprayers 12 44.7 535.8 Minor Tools: Machetes 20" 167 9.3 1,553.5 Pitchfork 2" 167 9.8 1,631.2 Pikes 167 7.3 1,214.4 Shovels 167 11.1 1,854.9 Small Shovels 167 7.3 1,214.4 Files 167 4.7 776.7 Hammers 46 5.6 256.7 Subtotal Equipment and Tools 183,721.7 Subtotal 787,307.6 Unexpected Expenses (10%) 78,730.8 Total Financial Requirement 866,038.4 Infrastructure and Social Services: Social Input: estimated for 5 months, labor days per member of the cooperative 167 752 125,599.5 Subtotal Infrastructure and Social Services 125,599.5 Cooperative of Services (2nd Degree) 204,091.4 Total Cost of First Phase of Development 991,637.9 Source: Geog. Rolando Vera, Mario Landaeta Technical Agrarian Management. INTI Local Chapter of MPPAT / Project Unit at INTI / FONDAFA Oct 2005

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205 LIST OF REFERENCES Interviews (names have been modified according to the privacy agreement reached with the individuals interviewed for this study ) Alfaro, L. (2008). Interview with Private Owner. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 14. Argenis, M. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Cruitupano (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), July 2. Blanco, M. (2008). Interview with Private Owner. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), May 27. Clavier, J. (2008). Interview with Private Owner. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 2. Cordoba, F. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Salom Betania (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), J une 25. Cotti, M. (2008). Interview with Private Owner. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 13. Esculpi, R. (2008). Interview with Extensionist at Fundo Batalla de la Victoria. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), May 17. Garcia, L (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Rio Amana (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), Ju ly 3 Gonzalez, J. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt La Carcajada (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 23. Guevara, P. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Lanceros Productivos (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 18. Guzman, X. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt La Carcajada (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 24. Hernandez, G. (2008). Interview with Private Owner. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 7 Hernandez, M. (2008). Inte rview with Private Owner. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 6. Lara, M. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Lanceros Productivos (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 18. Mosquera, O. (2008). Interview with Private Owner. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), July 7. Oropeza, A. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Hidropnica Maturn (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 26.

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206 Pena, A. (2008). Interview with Head of the Comando Zamorano. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), July 3. Perez, R. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Juan Dvila (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), Ju ly 15 Perez, W. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Juan Dvila (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), July 15. Rivera, C. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Poito. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), Ju ly 17 Ruiz, L. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Salom Betania (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), Ju ne 25 Salazar, D. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Hidropnica Maturn (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), Ju n 26. Sanchez, J. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Poito. (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), Ju ly 17 Tarek, S (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Lanceros Productivos (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), June 18. Torres, R (2008). Fundo Zamorano Al ejandro de Humboldt Rio Amana (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), Ju ly 3 Tortoza, A. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Juan Dvila (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), July 15. Usmaris, M. (2008). Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt Cruitupano (A. Sintjago, Interviewer), July 2. Primary Sources Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias (2008). Venezuela con el salario mnimo ms alto de Latinoamrica. Agencia Bolivar iana de Noticias. http: //, accessed October 29, 2008. Agencia Latino Americana de Informacin (2009). World Social Forum: Social movements meet with presidents La Va Campesina: International Peasant Movement. mid=1 a ccessed April 05, 2009. Albano, L., & Rodrguez, J. (2003). Elementos para el Estudio el Sistema Agroalimentario Venezolano. Maracay: Universidad Central de Venezuela.

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218 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Alfonso Jos Sintjago Cordova was born on 1984 in Caracas, Venezuela. The youngest of two children, he grew up in Caracas, until moving to Gainesville, Florida in 1998, and graduating from Gainesville High School in 2003. He lived in Gainesville, Florida with his brother as his parents were unable to migrate to the United States. He earned his B.A. s in history, political science, s ociology and Spanish from Ouachita Baptist University in 2007. He also served as a collegiate sw immer during his years at Ouachita Baptist University, and later served as Buchholz High School assistant swimming coach between 2007 and 2009. Upon completion of his M.A. in Latin American studies Alfonso plans to work in the field of education. His moth er, Tania Cordova and father, Rinaldo Sintjago are currently living in Gainesville, Florida.