El Libertario editorial collective
Venezuela: the killing of Sabino Romero
During the night of March 3, 2013 Yukpa Cacique Sabino Romero, well known for his defense of the rights of the Yukpa people, was assassinated on Chaktapa Highway, in the Sierra de Perijá (Zulia State). Since November 13, 2003 when President Hugo Chavez, speaking at El Menito, Lagunillas, announced the increase in carbon exploitation to 36 million metric tons per year in the territories inhabited by different native ethnic groups, Sabino Romero was one of the people from indigenous communities that mobilized to protest the consequences their land would suffer due to the expansion of mega-mining in their region. Sabino’s struggle focused on obtaining the zoning and title to the indigenous territories, for which he put together different mobilizations in Zulia State as well as in Caracas, using different means of struggle, among them direct action and occupation of indigenous lands in the hands of cattle ranchers.
Sabino’s autonomy in the struggle was the motive for a strategy shared among all regional and national powers interested in the continuous exploitation of indigenous lands. In 2009 two communities, one of them Sabino’s, occupied a farm in Chaktapa, Zulia, to protest the slow pace of the zoning process. The national executive put in place a strategy to divide the occupiers, and in an obscure deed three natives were assassinated. That was the perfect excuse to take back the farm the military way and to criminalize Sabino Romero, who spent 18 months in prison accused of the homicide. While the ranchers accused him of cattle rustling, the regional private media stoked the dirty war against the indigenous struggle with the support of allies in Caracas: the Interior and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami and the Indian Affairs Minister Nicia Maldonado. While the bureaucratic Chavists distracted the indigenous struggle with delays, excuses and media spectacles every 12 of October, other Chavist sectors isolated Sabino and the Yukpa from the solidarity of other social movements and revolutionaries not dependent on Miraflores [TN: Venezuela’s “White House”]. On all fronts, this strategy was put in place by each and every one of the beneficiaries of an economy based primarily on the exportation of minerals and energy from the country.
The assassination of the Yukpa warrior is cloaked in official versions that distract attention from the real culprits. These versions count on the amplifying effect of the official newspaper Panorama, well known for its generous publicity of state enterprises PDVSA, Corpuzulia and Carbonzulia, and vouched for by political and military organisms, the same ones who have been trampling on the indigenous communities of Sierra del Perija with the complicity of the cattle ranchers of the area. It is very telling that the assassination plans Sabino denounced would be perpetrated in Zulia now that the state is under political control of the Bolivarians. As is the case of other assassinated social fighters, the official media scandals will guarantee impunity.
Sabino’s struggle was against the developmental model based on the extraction and commercialization of oil, gas and minerals for the world market, a role assigned to Venezuela by the economic globalization. The deepening of the state’s oil capitalism hides its consequences to the environment and the peasant and indigenous communities.The real cause for the delays in the zoning and granting of indigenous land is that that’s where the mineral resources to be exported are located. That’s why Sabino’s struggle was against the model. That’s why they had to get him out of the way, no matter how. That’s why there are 13 murdered Yukpa, all of them unsolved till today. As was evident at the trial against the organizations that supported his fight (Homoetnatura and Provea) they had to take away whatever support he might get.
El Libertario will reject and denounce in every space we can reach the assassination of Sabino Romero, and will continue to broadcast the indigenous struggles as well as other autonomous social struggles in this country. Sabino joins the roster of fighters assassinated during the Bolivarian government for defending their rights, together with Mijail Martinez, Luis Hernandez, Richard Gallardo and Carlos Requena. The only polarization we anarchists recognize is that between governors and governed, between the powerful and the weak, between bosses and workers, in general, between victims and perpetrators. Therefore we will ask nothing of the perpetrators, we expect nothing from their fake justice or the crocodile tears of the bureaucrats who empowered Sabino’s execution. Like yesterday, today and tomorrow, we will continue to mobilize with all those who struggle against the power, waiting for the day when the blood of our people will be vindicated.