Franklin Brito Stood Up To Tyranny and It Struck Him Down

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Franklin Brito was a Venezuelan farmer who fought for his right to be a farmer. Miguel Octavio, from Devilsexcrement, explains the background story well:

Mr. Brito first incited the wrath of the Mayor of his municipality in Bolivar State, where he was a teacher and a farmer, when he suggested that rather than using pesticides, they could simply change the strain of “ñame” (yam) they were growing. Mr. Brito was fired, together with is wife (They are still owed salary and severance from their teaching jobs) and his farm was taken over.

Mr. Brito went on a hunger strike and the Government relented, his salary would be paid and his land returned…

It was never done.

Then Mr. Brito went on another hunger strike. The Land Institute signed an eleven point agreement with him….

It was never complied with.

Then Mr. Brito went on a 150 day hunger strike in fron of the OAS that left him in really bad shape and ended with the Government agreeing to return his land. Mr. Brito gave up his hunger strike, spent a few days in intensive care, but..

the agreement was not complied with and two days ago, Mr. Brito went back on his hunger strike at the OAS.

The excerpt above was from December of 2009. Since then, he had been in a military hospital, against his will, until  his death on August 30th, 2010.

Mr. Brito’s plight was, curiously, ignored or not noted by International Human Rights Groups until well after the initial seizure of his land:

A search of “Franklin Brito” in the database of Human Rights Watch turned up no results.

Amnesty International only covered the case of Franklin Brito when his daughter reported him missing from the military hospital in January of 2010.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, charged with calling out  Human Rights violations in the Americas, like Amnesty International, made one brief publication on Franklin Brito, speaking only on the government’s abduction of Brito into a military hospital.

The above groups should have spoken up in 2004, when Mr. Brito’s land was seized by the Venezuelan government for spiteful, most likely unlawful reasons. Instead, Brito was left on his own to do what he believed to be the right thing: reclaim his land.

At first glance, Mr. Brito’s hunger strike seems like a disproportionate response to the seizure of his land. But he did what he did, and through the long filtration of the facts of his case, a man died. The Venezuelan Government’s response to the death is perhaps more revealing than the original facts of his case:

Chavez’s agriculture minister, Juan Carlos Loyo, said the government never proposed taking Brito’s land and tried to help him.

Loyo said in comments reported by the state-run Venezuelan News Agency that he visited Brito recently at the hospital hoping to see “how we could help for humanitarian reasons.”

The government’s explanation contradicts reality. If the government was “trying to help him”, Brito would not have taken such life-threatening steps to protest against that government. And so what if Brito was crazy, as the government says. To take on, face-to-face, a tyranny, one must be at the very least a little crazy.

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