Once the Government realized that it had a serious resistance problem in Santa Barbara del Zulia after Chavez announced the expropriation of 47 farms in that area, it began trying to spin it all away. Chavez’ threat to use “guns against guns” were just that, a threat. He did not even trust or want Minister Loyos, gun in his holster, to talk to Melean. Instead he sent Vice-President Jaua, the great spinner. Jaua must have learned something about talking and spinning in the 22 years he spent as an undergraduate.That appears to be the only thing he is competent at.
Jaua bowed down and went to the El Peonio farm and met with its owners and later said that the Government would not back down. But that is exactly what it is doing. In some of the other farms, people left, packed up after the authorities showed up. Mr, Melean and the inhabitants of El Peonio are still there.
The farmers in the area have seen expropriation after expropriation. The Government takes over a farm, it does not compensate, invaders come in, invaders leave after the cattle and crops have been eaten. From day one. Chucho Melean was clear: “If they pay, I will leave”. Jaua may say what he wants, but it is not true that the Government has valued and compensated hundreds of properties.
Ask Franklin Brito, ask the Spanish farmers, all of whom have not been paid despite the pressure by their Government, ask the Portuguese farmers. And so on.
And the spin was, Mr. Melean lost, he was not ready to fight, this is a tough Government.
But Mr. Melean comes back today and says again: “If they pay me what it costs, I leave, if not, I stay”. There is no deadline. He stays, the Government will have to evaluate how much to pay, come back with an offer.It better be good.
In the end, it is a defeat for the Government. The timing was meant to be like that the slew of Bills passed by the National Assembly, to take care of the Sur del Lago farms near Christmas, so that people would not notice as they shot fireworks and opened Christmas presents. Now, the problem does not go away. It will either be forgotten or the whole issue will ignite in a few months at a more inconvenient time.
And Chucho Melean may be on TV again, despite all of the spinning.