By Nicholas Contompasis
"Chavez is going radical old book communist. Not a good idea. It's an old playbook that played itself out decades ago. He's setting himself up for a big fall and could leave Iran in control with a puppet President to take his place. Not good for the Venezuelan people and not good for the U.S."
Chávez Tells Venezuelans To Pop-A-Squat On Wealthy Parts of Caracas
By drillanwr, on January 26, 2011, at 10:17 pm
Move to exploit 'unused' land in capital rattles Venezuela's middle class, as troops also take over 'unproductive' farms ...
Hugo Chávez has sent out troops to take over farms and urged the poor to occupy "unused" land in wealthy areas of Caracas, prompting a wave of squats that is rattling Venezuela's middle class.
The move by Venezuela's president to step up the campaign to "recover" land and other property follows a housing crisis that has left millions of people in shabby conditions and affected his popularity in the run-up to next year's election.
Squatters wearing red T-shirts from Chávez's socialist party seized 20 spaces in a co-ordinated strike in the well-off Caracas municipality of Chacao last weekend, a move which shocked even some government supporters. Additional groups have targeted other cities.
Chávez has also announced a series of laws and deals with China, Russia, Belarus, Iran and Turkey, among others, in a breakneck effort to build 350,000 housing units in Venezuela in the next two years.
"The fundamental goal of socialism is to satisfy human needs … the needs of all, equally, without privilege," Chávez said in a television broadcast yesterday.
Opponents claim the government has failed to build enough houses over the past decade and has been offering "empty promises". Previous house-building deals with foreign allies reportedly produced just 10% of the promised number.
Emilio Grateron, mayor of Chacao, described Chávez's exhortation to seize supposedly unoccupied land as demagogic, and a move that would kill what little private investment remained. "There is irresponsible rhetoric without heed of the consequences. This is a very dangerous game."
The government has stepped up rural expropriations by deploying 1,600 troops at 47 farms in the western states of Merida and Zulia, claiming the farms were unproductive. The state has taken control of 2.5m hectares since Chávez gained power in 1999.
The government is now looking at cities in response to the housing crisis and to its fading support in the slums, once Chávista heartlands, which have voted for opposition mayors and governors.
Under Chávez the government has built fewer than 40,000 units a year – some say only 24,000 – in contrast to previous governments, which averaged 70,000.