CARACAS, (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez said his government would seize private homes on the idyllic Los Roques archipelago in the Caribbean and use them for state-run tourism in the latest move to implant socialism across Venezuela.
“I’ve always said we should nationalize Los Roques,” the ever-pugnacious Chavez said, making the announcement in a telephone call to state television late on Wednesday.
Lying just north of Venezuela’s coast, Los Roques’ dozens of islands are one of the South American nation’s favourite — and most expensive — tourist spots, with pristine white sand beaches, coral reefs and teeming sea life.
While many of the islands are deserted, some have small lodges and private homes.
“There are some houses that were illegally built. We’re going to take them over,” Chavez said, without giving a timeline.
“There are some supposed owners. They privatized it, so to speak, the high bourgeoisie, including the international set.”
Since coming to power in 1999, Chavez has nationalized large swathes of the OPEC member’s economy, alienating many in the business community but often delighting supporters, especially in the poor areas where he has his power base.