(Mérida, 07/06/2020) – The legal team of the Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) filed a complaint this Monday, July 6, with the Superior Prosecution of Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Judicial District of the Mérida state, for the crime of invasion against the Judibana Experimental Station, property of the ULA, whose spaces are illegally occupied and destroyed by invaders since 2016. The crime of invasion is established in Article 471-A of the Venezuelan Penal Code.
The relevance of this complaint is based on the most recent illegal occupation of what is known as Judibana Estate by members of community councils in the area where the Experimental Station of the ULA is located in the Alberto Adriani municipality of Mérida. These people began the invasion last June 17 and since then have caused destruction, theft and are marketing the milk produced by the cows on the estate , claiming that «they are hungry». For four years, the invaders have occupied Judibana Estate for periods, stealing and causing irreparable damage.
Four years of invasion and ecocide
Four years of invasion and ecocide
The legal action carried out by ODH-ULA this Monday is added to another complaint filed for more than a year with the State Prosecutor’s Office 23, with jurisdiction over environmental crimes. The aforementioned complaint is based on the ecological damage caused to Judibana Estate, which includes crimes of slash, burn, deforestation and ecocide. The legal team of this Observatory has ratified this accusation on several occasions, to which the Prosecutor’s Office has not provided answers.
The damage caused to Judibana Estate by the invaders, who have been taking over more and more space since 2016, puts at risk scientific research projects that are unique in the country, some of which have been underway for decades and whose findings and achievements are essential for the development of the nation. Likewise, the invasion and destruction of the Judibana Experimental Station infringe upon the existence of the Alberto Adriani University Center of the ULA, whose headquarters function in those spaces.
«Since 2016 to the present the Judibana Experimental Station of the Alberto Adriani Center of the ULA (NUAA-ULA, by its acronym in Spanish) remains invaded, affecting 240 hectares for a total of 250. Research on bovine genetics, agroforestry: cacao, bamboo, and forest species have been destroyed, and students have been unable to carry out their field work,» detailed ODH-ULA in its report on the situation of human rights in Venezuela, with special reference to the Andean region (2018-2019).
Among the scientific research projects that are at risk of being lost due to the invasion and destruction of Judibana Estate are those derived from the agreement signed between the ULA and the Nestlé Company, as well as the Project for agroforestry systems for timber trees with cacao, which began in 2007. Unfortunately, the Bamboo Project, the result of a bilateral agreement with Japan, was extinguished after an intentional fire caused by the invaders in August 2019 to the bamboo plantation. ODH-ULA annexed to its complaint photographs of this ecocide on which the Venezuelan justice system has not acted.
Protective measure that no one respect
On July 29, 2016, the Superior Agrarian Court of the Judicial District of the Merida State issued a protection measure for the Judibana Experimental Station, under the file No. S-00051-2016. This measure declares that the lands belonging to Judibana Estate are used exclusively for education, research and extension activities.
Despite repeated complaints and requests for action to evict the invaders made by the authorities of the NUAA-ULA to the various security and defence bodies of the State, for almost four years the attacks on Judibana Estate have not ceased. ODH-ULA recalls that the crime of invasion is permanent and it only ceases with the abandonment of the invaders. Likewise, this Observatory emphasizes that the damages and thefts committed in the public and autonomous universities of the country are in turn damages against the nation’s goods.
On February, 2018 ODH-ULA published the Preliminary Report: Invasion of University Dependencies. Violation of autonomy, right to education and access to justice in environmental matters, where it indicates that between 2004 and 2018 at least 14 dependencies of five autonomous universities in the country have been invaded and robbed. One of them also belongs to the ULA, the Caparo Experimental Station, attached to the Faculty of Forest and Environmental Sciences of this university and located in the state of Barinas. Since 2004, invaders have intermittently occupied its lands, causing deforestation and other environmental crimes.