Cross-posted from Ulf Erlingsson’s blog on January 8, 2011:
At 3 AM today the offices of the agricultural authority INTI in Sta Barbara, western Venezuela, were set on fire. One woman was inside by could be saved. The recent confiscations of farms in the state of Zulia were coordinated from that office.
The confiscations led to massive demonstrations, roadblocks with hundreds if not thousands of parked vehicles on the highway, to prevent the government’s to arrive with the tanks they sent to enforce the confiscations. At first sight it might therefore appear that the arson was made by angry citizens.
With near certainty I would say that is not the case. Nobody has anything to win on this except the government. Ignoring the fact that important documents went up in smoke, documents that can show who is the real owner of farms, also the political effect is squarely benefitting the dictatorial government. Remember the Reichtag fire?
For background see posts on this blog from Dec 18, 2010, and forward.
The original story above was published 2011-01-09 09:19 ET. UPDATE 11:28 ET: General Angel Vivas tweeted from Venezuela that it seems to be chavistas who set the fire. Here is a Youtube video of events that took place at that office the past couple of weeks, when the farmers demanded justice, that their farms, their houses, their homes should be returned to them. All the documents that were filed were presumably consumed in the fire.
Update 13:50 ET: The fire occurred at 06:30 local time (06:00 ET). All documents that were destroyed have backups according to the minister of agriculture.
Link: ForeignAffairs.com on Venezuela
Ulf Erlingsson writes for the rule of law, human rights and liberal democracy; against corruption, coup d’états, and oppression at Blog.Erlingsson.com. He tweets at Twitter.com/ulferlingsson.