Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela warned that some of the government's recent land seizures have not followed procedures outlined in the country's Constitution.
“While it is true that the government has the power to confiscate, it must do so by following the procedures established in the Constitution,” the cardinal said after Mass for the World Day of Peace on Jan. 9. He noted that “this is not happening in some cases.”
Cardinal Urosa acknowledged that there is a great demand for more housing in the country, but that the need – which sharply increased due to the recent flooding – “is not going to be resolved in six months.”
“The interests and rights of all people must be reconciled, and the government should do so justly,” the cardinal asserted.
In the past week, the Venezuelan government has confiscated numerous buildings and plots claiming they will be used for the construction of homes for those affected by the flooding. However, Rafael Alfonzo, a leading financial analyst, called the move a “new excuse” by Hugo Chavez to take over private lands. Chavez alleged that the measures are necessary to protect the food supply, to “rescue” lands from plantation owners, and to prevent monopolies and market speculation.
The Observatory of Property Rights in Venezuela reported that between 2005 and 2010, some 1,729 violations of private property by the government took place, and that during the last year there were 535 cases of confiscation. The most controversial one involved 2.2 acres of land belonging to the Antimano child nutrition center. Chavez said the center would now be known as the “Amatina Socialist Community.”
On his television program “Alo Presidente” on Jan. 9, Chavez ordered the confiscation of land to “accelerate all over the country, especially south of Maracaibo Lake,” where land belonging to the El Delirio and Dinamarca ranches was recently confiscated.