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The bodies of two Venezuelan peasants, whose kidnapping had been reported the day before, were found on Saturday, May 12. They were part of the beneficiaries of the land known as “Palo Quemao” in Barinas State.
They were Jesús León and Guillermo Toledo, leaders of the peasant families claiming 336 hectares of Hato Palo Quemao, which used to belong to landowner Carlos Pardi, located in Arismendi municipality in Barinas State, about 500 kilometers from Caracas, capital of the country.
Their kidnapping by Colombian paramilitary members had been reported on Friday 11. Five heavily armed men went to the precarious houses of “Palo Quemao” families with a list of peasants, with Jesús and Guillermo´s names on it.
They were handcuffed and put in a vehicle to later be kidnapped and murdered. The same paramilitary group was identified as the one responsible for the threats against other families, beneficiaries of agrarian reform lands.
They are part of the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant Front, member of the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations (CLOC-Via Campesina) in Venezuela. Presidential and legislative elections will take place in the country on May 20.
The member of the Frente Constitucionalista for the peasant sector, Orlando Zambrano, made reference to the murder of the Barinas peasants as part of the conflict that aims to break with the Bolivarian Revolution, both through financial sabotage and terrorism in the rural areas where the peasants were granted new rights.
In an interview with Real World Radio, Orlando denounced the “increasing actions against farmers in Venezuela, such as the case of our two brothers murdered hours ago”. He also said that since the passing of the Land and Agrarian Development Law by Hugo Chávez in 2001, the number of peasants murdered amounts to over 300 people.
The leader demanded international solidarity in response to these events.
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