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Venezuela: Franklin Brito Dies After Several Hunger Strikes

Franklin Brito, a Venezuelan farmer who had been on a hunger strike since July 2009, passed away from a respiratory arrest in a military hospital on Monday night. As previously reported by Global Voices, last year's hunger strike was the latest of numerous strikes:

Brito began his protest in 2006 against a decision by the Insituto Nacional de Tierras (National Land Institute), a national government office, which said that his lands were unproductive, a charge that Brito denied. The Institute ordered the confiscation of his lands. Some believe that the decision was a reprisal for corruption allegations he made against the Mayor of the nearby city of Sucre. His protests since then have included several hunger strikes. Even though the central government eventually returned ownership of the disputed lands and offered him compensation, the authorities failed to evict a group of people who have been occupying his land, leading Brito to begin his most recent hunger strike.

On Monday night, the news of his death spread quickly through Twitter [es] and blogs.

Radar de Barrios posted [es] a statement by Brito's family:

Hoy 30 de agosto de 2010 el agotado cuerpo de nuestro esposo y padre Franklin Brito, dejó de respirar.
Tras una lucha de más de seis años, más de ocho huelgas de hambre, la mutilación de un dedo y haber sido víctima de una irregular privación de libertad, el cuerpo de Franklin Brito dejó hoy de realizar funciones vitales.

Today August 30, 2010 the exhausted body of our husband and father Franklin Brito, stopped breathing. After a fight that lasted more than six years, more than eight hunger strikes, the mutilation of a finger and being the victim of irregular deprivation of liberty, the body of Franklin Brito today stopped performing vital functions

Miguel Octavio wrote a brief post in his blog, The Devil’s Excrement, talking about Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez‘ “Bolivarian Revolution” as it relates to Brito's case:

The revolution that claims to be “humane” now has a tragic victim of its lack of scruples and humanity.

Will anyone ever be held accountable for his death?

May he rest in peace.

In Venezuela News And Views, Daniel Duquenal also mentioned the government's involvement, citing the attempted coup in 1992 led by Hugo Chávez:

Chavez has officially, inescapably, his first un-washable blood on his hands since he is president of Venezuela (he has a lot of un-washable blood from 1992, but that is another story).

In her blog, Martha Colmenares writes [es] about the lesson Venezuelans can learn from Brito’s experience:

El productor agropecuario Franklin Brito tenía días que ya no respiraba por un pulmón. No se rindió, expuso su vida, prefirió morir antes que claudicar en la conquista de sus peticiones, una lección para todos.

Farmer Franklin Brito was not breathing through one of his lungs for days. He didn’t give up, he exposed his life, he preferred to die than give in to the conquest of his requests, a lesson for all of us.

Twitter users also responded to Brito's death: Luisana Bellorin (@luisana_kbd) lamented that this happened in her country, and Adrea Surribas (@ANDREABCD) said she admired Brito’s bravery. Enrique Vasquez (@kike1947) also tweeted about Brtio’s courage:

Me averguenza no tener el valor que tuvo Franklin Brito !

I’m ashamed of not having the courage that Franklin Brito had!

On the other hand, Olga Elizabeth (@Chavista16), a pro-government Twitter user, looked at the political implications in the timing of Brito’s death, as Venezuela prepares for upcoming parliamentary elections on September 26:

Esto ya se sabía q iba a pasar antes de las elecciones.. La pregunta es: A quien le convenía la muerte del Farsante de Franklin Brito?

We knew this was going to happen before the elections…The question is: who benefits from the death of the phoney Franklin Brito?

Also focusing on the politics behind Brito's death, Elias Cabeza Ibarra (@eeci1967) criticized the opposition's reaction:

La muerte d Franklin Brito,es usada x la oposicion como plataforma Mediatica Pornografica, sacando fotos y reclamando, xq no respetan?

The death of Franklin Brito, is used by the opposition like a pornographic media platform, taking photos and complaining, why don’t they show respect?

Politics aside, Miguel Jaime (@migueljaime) condemned the media's coverage of the story:

Lo de la muerte de Franklin Brito es lamentable, tanto por las circunstancias mismas del deceso, como por el show mediático.

Franklin Brito's death is unfortunate, both for the circumstances of his death, and for the media show

José Meza analyzed [es] Brito’s death in his blog La Culpa es de la Iguana (It’s the Iguana’s Fault), looking at what the tragic ending to his case reveals about the current situation in Venezuela:

Brito es la muestra más clara de cómo son las cosas en esta nueva Venezuela, llena de indiferencia, donde poco importa lo que se crea o piense si, de alguna forma, perturba o genera alguna molestia a quienes se creen dueños de la verdad.

Brito is the clearest example of how things are in this new Venezuela, full of indifference, where it doesn’t matter what you believe or think if, in some way, it interferes or creates a nuisance for those who believe they are the owners of truth.
Thumbnail image of Elena Brito, Franklin Brito's wife, at demonstration. Courtesy of Brito and Habla Venezuela, as used in previous Global Voices post published February 9, 2010. To see photo gallery of Franklin Brito, please click here.
  • Jenna Major

    They will backed down to Brito. A sad case. Like all things Venezuelan they will tell you what they think you want to hear to make the problem go away for another day. Lawyer San Antonio

  • Karen Patrick

    If anyone has been humiliated, abused and cheated by the Chavez
    Government, it has been Franklin Brito. But at the same time, Mr. Brito
    has responded with amazing strength and dignity, going on hunger strikes
    in front of the Supreme Court and the OAS, asking for something very
    simple: Justice. bankruptcy discharge

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