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Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

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Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

Chavez: Houses on Caribbean islands will be seized

By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER - Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Thursday that his government will expropriate homes on the Caribbean resort islands of Los Roques, saying the structures were built on plots bought in shadowy business deals.

Chavez has nationalized hundreds of privately owned companies since taking office in 1999, but this is the first time he has targeted private homes for expropriation.

Chavez offered no details regarding the planned seizures of private homes and quaint inns, known in Spanish as "posadas."

"There are some houses that were illegally built. We're going to take them over," he said on television from the presidential palace.

The president said the government would build state-run inns on Los Roques, which is an archipelago of tiny islands offering snorkeling and scuba diving along numerous coral reefs and deserted white-sand beaches.

Lying 95 miles (150 kilometers) off the mainland, Los Roques is immensely popularly with foreign tourists seeking natural beauty and tranquility.

The archipelago is a paradise for nature lovers. More than 280 fish species, including rainbow-colored parrot fish and yellow striped angel fish, dance around divers in the crystalline waters. Brown boobies and scarlet ibises are among the dozens of bird species found on the islands.

Chavez's government has nationalized hundreds of businesses including cement makers, retail stores and steel mills as part of his drive to establish a socialist economic model in Venezuela. Authorities have also seized large swaths of agricultural land deemed idle by officials, turning parcels over to poor peasants.

Chavez spoke before meeting with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin at the presidential palace. They discussed military cooperation and bilateral projects, including the creation of a $4 billion joint development bank that would be used to finance construction of housing and a natural gas pipeline in Venezuela.

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1. Re: Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

Well, Chavez seized the coffee companies and fields...horrible management caused production to fall ... and now Venezuela has to import coffee to complement the fallen production.

Chavez seized the sugar companies and fields...horrible management caused production to fall ... and now Venezuela has to import sugar to complement the fallen production.

Chavez seized the oil companies and fields...horrible management caused production to fall ... and now Venezuela practically gives away oil to Cuba, Nicaragua, and any other nation that will support Chavez internationally, and it has to import gasoline to complement the fallen production.

ALL other companies that Chavez has seized have led to shortages, from cement to milk, so, seeing this track record, if Chavez gets into Los Roques tourism, but still leaving alone some of the private posadas...I don't see any problem for tourism because the government ones will simply become money-guzzling failing businesses that will cost Venezuelans millions, only to make the people in Chavez's government and political party happy (who will get free accommodation...paid by my taxes).

The problem is that if Chavez seeks to open up Los Roques to "the people" (the usual excuse for confiscations), he must realize that "the people", en mass, tend to contaminate, pollute and simply destroy places. An example is the Tobogan de la Selva, once a beautiful natural wonder and now a place with cement all over, loud music, fat greasy guys selling greasy food in greasy stalls, and people that look at anyone a little different as if they were looking at an amusing animal.

I imagine that what will happen is the same thing that happened in Canaima, in which the government took over the NICEST posada (Chavez ALWAYS seizes just the nice places, such as the Hilton in Margarita) and now they run side-by-side with the private ones, being the private ones the ones that deliver the best service.

Now, if he takes over ALL of the posadas...Los Roques will still be Los Roques, but the quaintness and quality will surely decrease together with the prices. Some hippie superlow-budget backpackers will be happy and scream "Viva Chavez", while the restaurants of Los Roques resort to selling cheap empanadas because the people that bought lobsters are long gone, and they will all remember fondly the "good 'ol days" when nice yachts came in and nice international travelers walked on the sandy Gran Roque streets.

That's my analysis.

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2. Re: Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

Nelven, again I agree 100% with what you have written.

Tourism in Venezuela is being affected by the policies of our government.

Here in Margarita all the hotels & posadas are suffering from a reduction in occupation due to missing international flights & a general non interest on the part of the national government because things don't fall in line with the political view point of the ones in charge.

It's really a shame that after 25 years in tourism in Venezuela I am seeing this collapse.

I don't know that this is the proper forum for these views however it needs to be said.

For those of you reading this from other countries you can still come & enjoy the wonders that Margarita & the rest of Venezuela have to offer. Especially if you steer clear of government run properties.

Those of us in the private sector will continue to offer superior service & value for your vacation.

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3. Re: Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

I really hope that I'll not be one of the last ones going to see Los Roques at its best during my visit next week. If that happens I feel really sorry for Venezuela.

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4. Re: Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

I had been planning to visit Margarita and staying at the Hilton, but when Chavez ordered its "acquisition by force" two years ago, I went to Curacao instead.

Juan Griego...
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5. Re: Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

Over the last 4 decades, Los Roques (in particular Gran Roque) has gone from hosting a small community of fishermen and their families to having a large number of busineses, not just small family posadas but relatively large and expensive establishments catering to high end tourism, many of them seemingly owned by Italians and people of Italian extraction (for some reason I have ever been able to understand). If the people who have constructed these buildings can show that they had planning permission and the appropriate construction permits (legally obtained) then I think they will have little reason to worry about being expropriated. And if not? Well, we all should respect the law, whether we agree with it or not, or else vote for a new government and task them to change the laws . I personally am becoming really tired of seeing the Venezuelan travel forum used repeatedly by some people to promote their own political agenda or denegrate the current government and President. Guys, I have said this before. Go to the political blogs please.

A further point, the ecological and environmental problems experienced by Los Roques are already quite serious: energy, sewage and waste are all critical issues that are not being addressed (as well as damage to the coral by divers and snorkellers) , even with tourism as it currently is, restricted by cost to the well-off middle and upper middle class Venezuelans and the discerning, wealthy foreigners. If this amount of damage can be caused by this ´better´class of people, God protect Los Roques from the greasy poor and foreign hippies!

Caracas, Venezuela
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6. Re: Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

By the way, in Venezuela, "The Law" has a name and last name, and the country goes depending on how he wakes up in the morning. I have seen plenty of constructions going on in Los Roques during this decade, and the construction permits are given by the Autoridad Única, a gentleman approved by "The Law" to hold that post. So if there are illegal constructions, there's that gentleman who's salary I pay, and his job is to net let any illegal construction happen in the mere four streets that he oversees (Yes, Gran Roque is very small).

Even though it's paradise, Los Roques has its shares of environmental problems, which will only rise if Los Roques becomes more accessible.

Edited: 21 October 2011, 18:48
7. Re: Chavez: Houses on Los Roques will be seized

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