A day of protests and threats against private property

September 20, 2005


It
was a day of protests in Venezuela today
, curiously none of it organized by
the so-called opposition, but by various groups with grievances against the
Government. Chavez was hit hard by the protests as three different groups blocked
the access to the headquarters of the Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana. Chavze
went there to “hand out” Government loans to the Venalum corporation, one of
the Government owned aluminum companies that is now under management by its
personnel. Chavez had to be taken by helicopter to the plant as the
roads around Ciudad Guayana collapsed
.

There were
nominally four different groups protesting independently. Steel workers were
protesting that they have not been paid the dividends on the shares of Sidor
that they own, despite the promises by the Minister of Basic Industries that
they would be paid. Separately, workers of the aluminum industry who can not
work due to work related injuries also held a protest. The third group was
composed of Venalum and Alcasa’s retired personnel asking for speed in the decision
on an injunction they requested 40 days ago. Finally, there were protests over the
problems with water supply to the homes in the area.

Separately
there were protests in Caracas
by medical doctors against the health bill being considered by the National
Assembly and in Vargas state by street vendors who were protesting mistreatment
by the police.

But none
of this seemed to affect Chavze who
gave a fiery speech
, telling the Governors and Mayors to expropriate any
empty lots in the cities that are not being used. Chavez said that they should
stop the practice of buying urban land and letting it simply sit there in order
to sell it later at a higher price. Chávez also attacked the private sector
saying that those that don’t like his policies should “go to Miami” leaving their plants and machinery
behind. He backed the seizure of a farm which he claims is owned by the
Government while the owners claim otherwise and said he would hold his Sunday
program from that farm next Sunday. He also said he had until the year 2030 to
convince people of the advantages of socialism. Curiously, he suggested that he
was a “new” convert to the concept of socialism, which was not clarified.

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