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Venezuela: Los Roques to be Nationalised

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 11, 2011 09:56 PM

Published: 2011-10-11 21:56:49
Countries: Venezuela

As reported by Sail-World.com

Some of the remotest islands in the Caribbean are the most precious. In an area most distinguished by rampant commercialism, it is those that have remained almost totally undeveloped which are a reminder of what once was.

Los Roques, just 90 miles north of the Venezuelan mainland is one of these, and a favourite of long range cruising sailors.

President Chavez has announced that he aims to nationalize the islands for budget tourism and "productive activities like fishing".

Venezuela president Hugo Chavez's policy of nationalising strategic private businesses has taken a new twist with his announcement that his government will expropriate the existing hotels and holiday homes on the islands.

The president plans to turn Los Roques, a national park and an idyllic archipelago of deserted beaches of perfect white sand with swaying palms and dazzling coral reefs, into a state-run getaway for his country's urban poor.

Speaking on national television, he said that yachts and speedboats confiscated from fugitive bankers would be used to transport holidaymakers from the mainland. "There are some houses there that were illegally built. We are going to expropriate them."

Talking by phone link he added that the archipelago, a national park, had in effect been privatised by Venezuelan and foreign members of "the upper bourgeoisie".

Los Roques was declared a protected area in 1972 and it is unclear why local authorities permitted any private properties on the islands, effectively allowing the archipelago to become one of Latin America's most exclusive beach destinations. Los Roques is a paradise for bird watchers, snorkellers and scuba-divers - and cruising sailors.

During his 12 years at the helm, Mr. Chavez has taken over large swaths of land and expropriated scores of companies as part of his self-styled "21st century socialist revolution." However, this would be the first time that Mr Chavez has targeted private homes.

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