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March 07, 2005
WE'VE HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE:
If any doubts remained about President Hugo Chávez's plans for Venezuela's destiny, they have been erased by his decree to "rescue" unproductive lands and assign them to "groups of the population" and "organized communities" from rural areas. Private property is history, so Chávez is proceeding to strengthen the failed agrarian reforms of socialist Venezuelan governments from the 1960s, '70s and '80s, renaming them the "agrarian revolution."
The new Land Law authorizes the government to expropriate land that bureaucrats consider underutilized and to do the same in those cases in which the government discovers an error in a title of land. Venezuelans already know the modus operandi of Chávez's bureaucracy. In trying to obtain a birth certificate, an identification card, a passport, a certified copy of any legal document and even in registering the elderly to receive pensions, each "mistake" represents a potential source of income for each official, and at the same time, a delay of several months for each citizen's request.
Let's hope it works out better than Robert Mugabe's similar program in Zimbabwe. But the tune sounds awfully familiar.
UPDATE: The Bolivian government has been toppled.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Bart Hall emails:
Chavez's agents have been heavily involved in trying to bring about a Castro-style revolution in Bolivia for the last three years. I have worked in Bolivia a couple of times (agricultural) development, and the communist meddling is a very unfortunate situation. I could say a LOT more, but I'll leave it that the Bush administration has been dreadfully negligent in addressing the security issues to our south and remains far too focused on drugs.
It will eventually cost us some serious grief, given that Chavez, FARC in Colombia, and Hizb'allah are now working together.
I'm afraid this is right.