Chavez: Dropping in the polls? Steal property! Posted by: McQ
on Friday, April 11, 2008
That, apparently, has what Hugo has settled upon as a way to boost his flagging poll numbers. Where he once enjoyed 65% approval ratings in 2005, he's down in Bush territory now, with a paltry 37% of the nation happy with him.
So he's decided he'll just go grab some property to boost that rating:
Venezuelan armed forces occupied 32 sugar plantations Thursday, the latest in a wave of takeovers that some say is a bid by President Hugo Chavez to regain political momentum and reverse his recent slide in the polls.
The farms in Lara state were taken over by army units at the request of the Chavez government's National Land Institute, or INTI. The institute in recent years has handled the takeover of thousands of acres of farmland and turned them over to worker cooperatives.
The government last week said it would seize privately owned cement manufacturers, and Wednesday it said it would "renationalize" Sidor, one of Latin America's largest steel factories. A 1998 privatization placed Sidor in the control of an Argentine-Italian joint venture.
INTI President Juan Carlos Loyo told reporters that the farm seizures were ordered after inspections showed 80% of them were idle.
However, the local association of sugar growers said at a news conference that the farms were productive and that they would fight the "militarization" of their crops.
Some farms, a little concrete, a steel mill. That ought to make him more popular among the "folk". I'm trying to remember when that sort of thing was last tried - oh yeah, Zimbabwe. Mugabe's only problem is he didn't have any oil revenue to prop his stupidity up as Chavez does. But regardless, economically, Venezuela seems headed toward the same fiscal shoals that have sunk Zimbabwe:
The inflation rate last year exceeded 20%, the highest in South America. Basic foodstuffs such as milk, chicken, beans and cooking oil often are difficult to buy.
But hey, that's not his fault.
The expropriations are unpopular with many Venezuelans, said Gustavo Garcia, an economist at a Caracas-based graduate business school known by its Spanish initials IESA.
He thinks the real goal of the takeovers is "to blame the private sector for problems he cannot resolve."
"By doing this, Chavez is blaming the sugar companies for the fact there is no sugar in the markets and the cement companies for the shortage of construction," Garcia said.
And that might work for a little while for a certain group of his supporters, but at some point he's going to run out of industries to confiscate.