Rodolfo Jose Cardenas, a young leader of the Venezuelan Christian Democratic Party, last night attributed recent guerrilla disturbances and sabotage in Venezuela to extremists and Castro elements "who do not have popular support." He said that social progress and the land reform program had helped undercut extremists throughout the country.
In a Kirkland House seminar last evening, the young lawyer and federal deputy described land distribution and social progress as Venezuela's two central pre-occupations. Nine other journalists, intellectuals, and political leaders from Venezuela participated in the seminar and answered questions.
Both the reactionary groups and the Communists, Cardenas said, oppose the land reform on principle. The right opposes it "because it threatens to take away from the absentee-owners of the latifundia their easy life; the Communists oppose it because the success of the land reform hinders Communism."
"If we did not have four years of the land redistribution program behind us." Cardenas said, "the guerrillas would have much greater success today. Why do the guerrillas survive at all? Because it is easier to find a needle in a haystack than to destroy a guerrilla in the mountains."
The agricultural program works to alleviate peasant poverty through land redistribution, technical agricultural assistance, and financial credit. The government, Cardenas said, has sent social workers into the field to instruct the peasants in crop rotation, the use of chemical fertilizers, and harvesting techniques.