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Venezuelan Government Cared for Franklin Brito's Until his Death

Venezuelan government agencies implemented the necessary mechanisms to try to save the life of farmer Franklin Brito, who died on Monday night in Caracas as a result of a prolonged voluntary fast that deteriorated his health.

Minister of Agriculture and Lands Juan Carlos Loyo affirmed on Monday that Brito counted on the support of the Venezuelan Government throughout his hospitalization. Similarly, Loyo explained that an expropriation of the estate of the late farmer was never brought up, as private media outlets have reported.

In fact, Loyo stated that he had recently visited Brito at a Military Hospital – where he was being cared for – at the request of one of his relatives. The encounter took place “without any kind of journalistic shrillness, with the aim to find, once again, a possibility to help him for humanitarian reasons,” said the minister.

Loyo estimated that Brito “best intentions” had been used for political ends on behalf of opposition sectors, and that they had “put his life at risk.”

Brito was unconscious, and doctors were obliged to induce a coma last Friday 27 because of a serious respiratory failure. Additionally, he faced a generalized infection, pneumonia and serious damage to vital organs like his liver and kidney.

Though he received answers from the government every time he demanded so, his relatives supported Brito’s risky voluntary fast and accused the Venezuelan government of “forcing him” to preserve his life.

A Government Concerned for Brito's Life

“I had never seen a state so concerned for the defense of the rights of a single man as it has been in Brito's case,” said the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Venezuela, Alfredo Missair, after a meeting in June with Venezuela's Vice President Elias Jaua and Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro to discuss the farmer’s situation.

Missair stated that the Venezuelan Government “let them be free to ask any kind of questions” during the meeting attended by representatives of different international agencies such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the International Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“They gave us the details of the different events concerning the case, the measures subsequently taken by the government to respond to Mr. Brito’s demands, and the responses provided to address them,” affirmed Missair, who also expressed that the farmer’s health condition corresponded to that of a person that fasts voluntarily.

The UN Resident Coordinator admitted that decisions taken by the government to guarantee Brito’s life were expedient.

The government “is using every technological tool within its reach to respect Mr. Brito’s life, and it is making every reasonable effort to keep him in good conditions and ensure that his life is not at risk,” he stated.

Brito Received Government Support

Brito – to whom the Bolivarian Government granted ownership of 290.20 hectares of productive lands in southeastern Venezuela – began a hunger strike in 2003 to denounce an alleged invasion to his lands by his neighbors. The issue was disregarded after an inspection carried out by the corresponding authorities.

In 2005, the National Institute of Lands (INTI) reaffirmed Brito’s claim to his private property by granting him the corresponding public registry of property and confirmed once again that there was no invasion of his lands.

Nevertheless, Brito appealed the case, but it was declared unfounded when the court proved that the claimant had a covenant for quiet enjoyment of his lands. Brito responded to the decision taken by mutilating one of his fingers in front of television cameras.

After the decision of the Venezuelan court, Brito cut off his finger in front of TV cameras. 

The following year, Brito appealed to a superior court but his motion was declared inadmissible. Subsequently, the INTI president was appointed to handle the case, and new access roads were opened on his farm to avoid quarrels with his neighbors. Additionally, fences and the sewage system were improved, amongst other benefits to the lands of his property.

In 2007, the constitutional tribunal of the Supreme Court of Justice heard the case and confirmed that “the elements claimed by the citizen did not exist (...) concerning land overlapping and trespassing.”

In 2008, in the face of a new hunger strike and the imminent possibility of his death, the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela sent the INTI president to assist Brito concerning his call to invalidate the titles of ownership of his neighbors.

That same year the Veenzuelan Government decided to give him a tractor and a dredger, repaired his vehicle, donated agricultural supplies and deforested 40 hectares of his lands.

However, even though the Venezuelan government had met all of his requests, in August 2009 Brito decided to begin his third voluntary fast at the doors of the Organization of American States (OAS).

On December 2009, under the mediation of the Venezuelan government and for humanitarian reasons, the claims to land by Brito’s neighbors were invalidated. However, he decided to continue fasting. At that point, Venezuela's office of the Attorney General ordered his transfer to Caracas' Military Hospital with a writ of habeas corpus to protect his life.

AVN/ Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S./ August 31, 2010

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