Chavez takeover plan triggers Caribbean island fears

LOS ROQUES, Venezuela, (Reuters) – Luxury yachts  weigh anchor in pristine turquoise bays and small boats carry  wealthy families with deck chairs and picnic baskets through  the waves to the white sands of Francisqui Island.

The idyllic Los Roques off Venezuela’s Caribbean coast were  once a hide-out for pirates. They now draw tens of thousands of  well-off tourists a year with their palm-lined bays, coral  reefs and waters ideal for scuba diving, sport fishing and  sailing.

But the archipelago, a national park, could soon lose its  exclusive feel as President Hugo Chavez plans to bring his  self-declared socialist revolution to the islands.

He says the rich have monopolized them and he wants to take  them back for ordinary Venezuelans, as well as some of the  yachts. “I’ve always said we should nationalize Los Roques,” the  former soldier said in a speech this month on state television.  “They privatized it, so to speak, the high bourgeoisie,  including the international set.”

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