Venezuela President Hugo Chavez announced on television over the weekend that he plans to expropriate the mansions on Los Rocques, a beautiful Caribbean archipelago off his country's northern coast, and convert them into affordable hotels for domestic tourists.
“The upper-class bourgeoisie privatized all of that and that’s what we are going to expropriate,” said Chavez, who was speaking on the program Dando y Dando.
According to VenezualaAnalysis.com, Chavez also stated that he plans to expropriate yachts from the wealthy and use them to give sightseeing tours. This could give the socialist a pretty respectable fleet.
Though Los Rocques have been protected sine the 1970s, the Venezuelan government had looked the other way as vacation homes were constructed. Now Chavez will likely capitalize on this oversight rather than returning the islands to their natural state. The islands have long been popular with divers and snorkelers and boast swathes of white sand beach and nearly untouched jungle, but as The Financial Times points out, Venezuela has been struggling to attract foreign tourists.
The country’s high crime rates and inevitably contrarian foreign policies -– not to mention Chavez’s often bizarre rhetoric -– seem to have dissuaded many people from heading to a country that boasts tremendous natural beauty.
Political observers expect more crowd-pleasing expropriations as Chavez gears up for an election next year so now is probably not the time to be buying a summer place in Maracaibo.