Venezuela: Land reform takes back 4 million hectares

The Venezuelan government will begin a process of recovering 300,000 hectares of land during April that have been in the hands of an unnamed English company, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in an interview during his trip to Uruguay.

Chavez said the process of taking back or “recovering” land had been fundamental to the revolutionary process led by his government. He said this especially so that “worker control” could “prevent companies from exploiting the land and workers, and getting rich and taking the earnings overseas”.

Chavez said 4 million hectares of land had been taken back by the Venezuelan government during his 12 years in office.

In June last year, the National Assembly passed a reform to the land law that strengthened the ability of landless tenant farmers to obtain land, as well as the ability of the state to convert large, idle estates into land farmed for the public good.

Chavez said this was part of his government’s process of nationalisation that began by retaking state control of Venezuela’s most strategic companies — such as the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

This has “allowed us to advance in the construction of socialism of the 21st century”, Chavez said.

Chavez said the state then took back basic industry companies that had been privatised by previous governments, such as steel and aluminium processing plants.

He said the “rhythm of recovery” of land and companies that are fundamental for production will continue and will “strengthen the creation of social property”.

Chavez said: “Private companies … can continue existing without a problem and we are even happy to support them, as we have done, but only when it’s in the framework of the constitution and of social interest.”

He said the state was “applying worker control” hand-in-hand with the nationalisations. He said this process was facing “many difficulties, sometimes resounding and hurricane-force difficulties, but it is advancing, this control of the organised working class”.

This government is prioritising land reform in an area of Zulia state. The area, known as South of Lake Maracaibo, has one of Venezuela’s most unequal land distributions and was affected by the heavy rains and flooding at the end of last year.

In December, the government announced its intention to take over 16 large unproductive private land estates to help with the area’s reconstruction.

[Abridged from .]

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