Venezuela: Government takes over air and sea ports

March 28, 2009

President Hugo Chavez announced on March 21 the takeover of all national and international seaports and airports, returning them to the direct control of the national government.

These facilities had been decentralised to state jurisdiction and will now revert to the hands of the national government, Diario Vea said on March 22.

The process began in the early hours of March 21, with the taking control of the port of Maracaibo and its international airport, called La Chinita, without any disturbance, the paper said.

Venezuelan regional ports and airports are in a generally poor state, because state governors have failed to invest in maintenance and development over many years.

At the port of El Guamache, Margarita Island, in the right-wing opposition-controlled state of Nueva Esparta, local mayors, parliamentarians and members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) joined representatives of the national government and the Bolivarian Armed Forces in taking over operations on March 21, Ultimas Noticias noted on March 22.

National Assembly deputy Rosario Pacheco coordinated the mobilisation of PSUV militants and supporters in Nueva Esparta to back the intervention.

"As representatives of the National Assembly, we will keep supporting the intervention group, and their actions will lead to an improvement in the conditions of the port and of its workers", Pacheco told Ultimas Noticias. "The resources derived from the port's operations will be administered by the national government, and will be invested for the benefit of all the people of Nueva Esparta."

He noted that for the past 13 years, the consortium which had administered the port had "exploited the workers and denied them social security, privatised the beaches and removed all the local artisans".

Moreover, to reassure the workers, he emphasised that the port of El Guamache will maintain its full operation, fulfilling its tourist and commercial targets, in accordance with the established plan of work.

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