[Marxism] (no subject)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Aug 29 19:02:32 MDT 2004


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Says Taxing, Seizing 'Idle' Lands to Be
Part of 'Revolution'


The Associated Press




CARACAS, Venezuela Aug. 29, 2004 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said
Sunday that as part of his deepening "revolution," he will enforce an
agriculture law that allows the government to tax and expropriate idle
lots. "We are going after idle land and are going to put it to work,"
said Chavez during his weekly television and radio show. 
Chavez, who defeated a recall referendum against him on Aug. 15, said
that enforcing the 2001 law more strictly was part of "deepening the
revolution" he has vowed to lead during the last two years of his
government.

The Land Law, created by Chavez in 2001, imposes strict rules on what
ranchers and farmers can produce on land, and sanctions idle lands with
taxes or by expropriating them.


The law also permits the state to grant state-owned land to the
homeless, but private land owners claim mistakes have been made by
authorities in classifying lands as state-owned or private.


Businessmen and farmers accuse left-wing Chavez of using the law to
install a communist dictatorship in the country.


"The time has come for creating a democracy in the distribution of lands
in Venezuela," said Chavez. "We have to lend a hand to the worker and
not to the person who keeps (the land) idle," Chavez added.


Chavez said that he will try to negotiate with the owners of the lands
first to try to persuade them to voluntarily sell their lands to the
government.


"We aren't enemies of the land owners, nor do we want to burn them or to
invade their property," Chavez said.


According to a 1998 census, 60 percent of Venezuela's farmland, nearly
70,000 square miles, was owned by less than 1 percent of the population.
The survey said 90 percent of farmland given to peasants in a 1960
reform program reverted to large landholders.


Chavez said that the wealthy acquired illegal property titles through
corrupt dealings with local officials during the governments prior to
his 1998 rise to power.


Squatters say the Land Law gives them the right to seize empty lands,
but landholders argue that the properties are seized illegally and that
authorities rarely stop the invasions.


The opposition, which still contests the results of the recall, says
that Chavez is increasingly authoritarian and is dividing the country
along class lines.


Chavez's supporters say he is the first president in years to care for
Venezuela's poor majority.





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