Thursday, September 29, 2005

Chavez, Inc.: How to turn a petropower into a banana republic

Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is fast converting his oil-rich country into an old-fashioned banana republic.

And he's doing it the same time-tested way that for centuries has kept so much of Latin America poor: stealing private property in cahoots with his closest family members.

Our sources in Venezuela say that last week, the military seized control of the largest working hacienda in the country. Soon after, Chavez gave a nationally-televised speech from the stolen farm, and announced the beginning of government confiscation of private property.

Here's where the nepotism comes in. The next day, Chavez's father, Governor Hugo de Los Reyes Chavez, expropriated corn silos belonging to Venezuela's most successful industrial group which provides much of the food for the country.

Then Venezuela's ambassador to Cuba, Adan Chavez (Hugo's brother) told the Cuban press that the confiscations were only the beginning.


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