“There is no private land,” Venezuela President Hugo Chavez declared. “To the attack! Authorized and approved,” said Chavez, signing a decree for the takeover of five estates sitting on a total of 10,305 hectares in his home state, Barinas.
CARACAS -- Venezuela's Conindustria, which represents small and medium-sized companies, many of them in manufacturing, is at odds with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s claim that there was no such thing as privately owned land, only property.
“There is no private land,” Venezuela President Hugo Chavez declared Sunday, signing a decree for the takeover of five estates sitting on a total of 10,305 hectares. “To the attack! Authorized and approved.”
Chavez's statement has sparked speculation that the government could seize any property through the simple expedient of laying claim to the land on which it was built.
This was what was worrying Conindustria President Eduardo Gómez Sigala. He claimed that Chávez had “eliminated” Article 15 of the Constitution, which sets out the right to own private property.
The irony of this latest tussle over property rights is that the current “Bolivarian” Constitution, which enshrines the right to private property, was introduced at Chávez’ behest in 1999, his first year in power after winning the elections in late 1998.
Gómez Sigala claimed that Chávez’ remarks last weekend amounted to the “most serious thing that’s been said about land in the country in the last 10 years.” Private houses could end up as state property under the president’s interpretation of the law as it related to the status of land, he warned.