In order to respect the pain felt by Franklin José Brito Rodríguez’s family, to whom we express our deepest condolences for his passing, we waited until his funeral proceedings were complete to reaffirm the Venezuelan Government’s position on this terrible issue. In this respect, we would like to state the following:
1. Franklin Brito was never object of a land expropriation or a land recovery measure, nor was his property invaded by any third parties. The facts are the following:
- In 1999, Brito received from the Venezuelan Government ownership titles of 290.20 productive hectares (717 acres) of the La Iguaraya Estate, in La Tigrera community, Sucre municipality, Bolívar state (southwest). The mechanism used, within the laws of the moment, was the handover of the land as a tax-free individual title.
- In March 2003, Brito denounced that two titles issued by the National Land Institute (INTI) to two of his neighbors overlapped on the land he had received in 1999. Both neighbors had been prior users of the lands next to Brito’s properties and effectively also received their respective titles.
2. Brito received timely responses from both administrative and legal authorities:
· In November 2003, INTI, in response to Brito’s claims, reviewed the land boundaries and did not find any overlaps between the land given to Brito and the two subsequent land titles given to his neighbors.
· In 2005, INTI ratified the property of the La Iguaraya lands as being owned by Brito. INTI issued a corresponding Agrarian Register – a certificate of land documents formalizing ownership – and once again verified that there were no land overlaps, as Brito claimed, between his property and the aforementioned land titles given to his neighbors.
· In 2006, Brito went before judicial authorities and gave notice of appeal for constitutional protection before the Second Civil, Commercial, Agrarian and Transit Court of First Instance in Ciudad Bolívar. His notice was declared inadmissible, and its corresponding appeal before the Fifth Supreme Agrarian Court of the State of Monagas was also declared inadmissible in 2006.
· In December 2006, after new technical inspections it was confirmed that “the land overlaps mentioned by Franklin Brito do not exist”. This judicial inspection was conducted by the Court of the Municipality of Sucre, Judicial circumscription of the State of Bolívar, First Circuit.
· In March 2007, as a last resource the Supreme Court of Justice was informed about Brito’s claims and pointed out that, at the moment, he did not present evidence regarding land overlaps and violation of his property.
· In August 2009, for humanitarian reasons, INTI revoked the land titles granted to Brito’s neighbors and conducted another revision of the property, which was to the detriment of his neighbors who previously occupied those lands.
· Brito, in accordance with the law, received complete support of the agrarian institutions of the Venezuelan government so as to carry out his productive activities. He was given access to credit, machinery, drainage, amongst others benefits and resources.
The Venezuelan government did not violate or infringe upon the constitutional, civil, social or economic rights of Franklin Brito. On the contrary, it guaranteed that he could freely stand up for his rights, even at the expense of other people.
Regardless, Brito chose the extreme measures of a hunger strike and auto-flagellation as a form of pressure to win a claim that did not have any real foundation or merit.
In January 2010, given medical reports on the serious health condition of Brito while protesting in front of the local headquarters of the OAS, where he was abandoned by pro-opposition leaders who made a media show there in December 2009, the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic demanded that a judge issue an order for him to be admitted to hospital in order to guarantee his life, as established in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
His first hospitalization was overseen by the Red Cross in a private hospital. Later, he was admitted to the Caracas Military Hospital under the responsibility of the Venezuelan government and under the supervision of the Venezuelan Red Cross; both of which were the only institutions committed to saving his life.
Britto was provided medical and humanitarian assistance, as the Secretary General of the Venezuelan Red Cross, Hernán Bongioann, stated: “The doctors at the Military Hospital and the Red Cross had one goal: to safeguard the physical integrity and health of Mr. Franklin Brito. We always focused our efforts on it, although respecting Mr. Franklin Brito’s will.”
Unfortunately, the state of his health was poor and irreversible, and led to a final and fatal result.
We understand the pain and anger of Brito’s family and friends. Regardless, if the Venezuelan government had made a mistake, it would not have hesitated to rectify it, even if it had involved flexibly working around compliance with the law to guarantee the supreme right to life.
Unfortunately, we could not respond to a non-existent violation of Brito’s rights.
We are obliged to reject the pharisaism of the media machine, the opposition with only electoral ends, and the authorities of the Church, which encouraged Brito’s extreme decisions in order to cause a death serving their dirty flags.
They do not have the courage to make their own sacrifice; rather, they took advantage of the tragedy of a human being and his family to try to win votes and destabilize a legitimate and democratic government.
None of them, who today cry hypocritically in front of the TV cameras, ready to broadcast a grim show, did anything to safe his life. On the contrary, they wanted and waited for his death as scavengers.
The Venezuelan people will impose their hope and happiness on those who want to cover our Homeland with death, hatred and discouragement.
The wise Venezuelan people, with all their martyrs in their fight for finding the revolutionary path they are walking today, know where the truth is.
Caracas, September 1, 2010
Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela