Interview with INTI President: Chavez is the law!

January 15, 2005

Transcript of the interview with the President of the Land Institute (INTI) Eliezer Otaiza in El Nacional.

-It would seem to us that the decrees by the Governor of Cojedes took you by surprise?


I knew in particular that he was going to issue them.


-Do you disagree with the Governorís decision?


I do not have disagreements with the Governor, he has his responsibility and I have mine. Since Nov. 10th. When the President gathered us and gave us that objective at Tiuna Fort, he told the Governors to make war on large farm states. The Governor of Cojedes did what agreed with his vision because of the problems that the large farm states have in his state.


-In Cojedes they used the word intervention, but that term is not present in the Yaracuy or Carabobo decrees.


The central problem is precisely the word intervention, which was eliminated by decision of the Venezuelan Supreme Court in the Land Bill and that is why it generates publicity. But when you see the procedures, you can see that INTI ahs not delegated its competence and its actions follow the law. Let me tell you that Cojedes was the first state we evaluated and we had to make a change in coordinator because all cases were paralyzed ever since Adam Chavez was President.


-So, prior Presidents of INTI were also responsible for the slow fight against large farm states?


No, because you have to remember the political circumstancesÖ


-If the problem was one Government official, why didnít the Governor wait for the INTI to act?


I donít see the conflict of competence. I donít think we can carry out the fight against large land states if the Governors do not participate, but to me the problem is not the decree, that may have some problems at the level of detail from the legal point of view, but I donít care about the legal point of view, because in the end, INTI carries out the procedure.


-In the case of Hato El Charcote, some groups hope that you will guarantee their right of permanence.


Everything is ready and we have taken measures in the Board of INTI with respect to this one specifically.


-What are they?


I canít tell you. They are part of a strategy, because thatís where politics is involved.


-Does INTI guarantee those rights even before the ownership of the law is defined?


Yes, it is not a binding decision. What happens in El Charcote? Many of the people that live there or in others are people that have lived and worked there for 20, 30 or 40 years. What did they do? Take care of it; produce a crop in one or two hectares, but their role was to take care of unproductive lands. Thus, we can not call them squatters, because there existed a work relationship with the purported owner of the land. ..Now, the squatter, the person that enters by force, gets nothing, but these cases are not many.


-How many?


Few. Less than 1,000 have been denounced, we can fix those very quickly.


-There is also the case of Hato Pinero that plays a role in ecotourism. Canít you recognize that there is productive work there?


That is a decision to be taken by the President. I must say that the only difference I may have with the Governors is that to them the decisions are going to be made by President ChŠvez and not the Governors.


My take: There you have it, there is no law, who cares about legalities, measures have already been decided before the legal procedure is followed and Chavez will decide everything. Nothing new here, this is what we have seen the last six years. He is the law.


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