[Marxism] Chavez: "Have to eliminate large landholdings in Venezuela'

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Aug 28 07:31:03 MDT 2004



Bloomberg - August 27, 2004

Venezuela Says Economy to Move Away From Capitalism

by Alex Kennedy

CARACAS--Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said
the
country's economy must move away from capitalism and eliminate ``large"
land holdings.

Chavez, who won a recall vote against him on Aug. 15, said the country's
businessmen should help the government change the world's fifth-largest
oil
supplier into a ``humanist" economy from a ``neo-liberal" one.

``I call on private businessmen to work together with us to build the
new
economy, transforming the capitalist economic model into a social,
humanist
and equality economy," Chavez said during a televised speech in Caracas.
``The time has come to accelerate the transformation. The revolution has
just begun."

Chavez, 50, who counts Cuban President Fidel Castro among his friends,
said
in his weekly address to the nation on Aug. 8 that the referendum on
whether
to remove him from office was an attempt by the U.S. -- which purchases
60
percent of Venezuela's oil exports -- to replace him with a pro-American
government.

The former lieutenant colonel survived a two-day coup attempt in 2002
and
two-month national strike last year aimed at ousting him.

Chavez said he plans to apply more rigorously the country's Land Law,
which
allows the government to confiscate unused land.

``We have to eliminate large land holdings in Venezuela," Chavez said.
``What we've done so far has been very, very superficial."

The government may seek to replace some central bank directors in order
to
have more control over the bank, which is the only major institution in
the
country that has remained ``somewhat independent" of Chavez, said Miguel
Octavio, executive director of Caracas brokerage BBO Financial Services.

`Tougher'

``Everybody expects Chavez to get tougher and deepen the revolution,"
Octavio said in a telephone interview. ``Chavez has to walk a fine line
though, since oil people are willing to invest here as long as Chavez
doesn't get too scary."

The economy grew 23 percent in the first half as oil production
recovered
from the strike that cost $10 billion, according to the government. Oil
sales account for about half of government income and 80 percent of
exports.

Talks between the government and businessmen, such as the meeting
yesterday
between Finance Minister Tobias Nobrega and the Venezuelan American
Chamber
of Commerce, are unlikely to improve relations because of a mutual
mistrust,
Octavio said.

`Whatever It Wants'

``The government is going to do whatever it wants," Octavio said. ``The
private sector just doesn't trust him."

Carlos Fernandez, the previous president of Venezuela's largest business
organization, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, was
arrested for treason last year after leading the strike that cut oil
output
as much as 95 percent. He fled the country when a judge freed him after
a
month under house arrest.

The organization's leader before Fernandez, Pedro Carmona, replaced
Chavez
as president for less than a day during the failed coup and afterward
was
granted asylum in Colombia.

``When I talk about dialogue, let no one be mistaken," Chavez said.
``The
dialogue is to advance, to implement the constitution."

       
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