Chavez Plans to Tax, Seize Idle Land
|August 31, 2004||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Land Tax for Venezuela
Chavez Plans to Tax, Collect Idle Land
There are two known paths to economic justice in natural resources such as land. One, which we oppose, is bloody violence and outright seizures by force. The second, which we support, is the nonviolent taxation of land values. Which one would you try? The leader of Venezuela has selected the nonviolent approach.
Here are portions of a report from the Associated Press.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on August 29 that as part of his deepening “revolution,” he will enforce an agriculture law that allows the government to tax and expropriate idle lots.
“We are going after idle land and are going to put it to work,” said Chavez during his weekly television and radio show. Chavez, who handily defeated a recall referendum against him on Aug. 15, said that enforcing the 2001 law more strictly was part of “deepening the revolution” he has vowed to lead during the last two years of his government.
The Land Law, originally created by Chavez in 2001, imposes strict rules on what ranchers and farmers can produce on land, and sanctions idle lands with taxes or by expropriating them.
The law also permits the state to grant state-owned land to the homeless, but private land owners claim mistakes have been made by authorities in classifying lands as state-owned or private.
“The time has come for creating a democracy in the distribution of lands in Venezuela,” said Chavez. “We have to lend a hand to the worker and not to the person who keeps (the land) idle,” Chavez added.
Chavez said that he will try to negotiate with the owners of the lands first to try to persuade them to voluntarily sell their lands to the government.
“We aren’t enemies of the land owners, nor do we want to burn them or to invade their property,” Chavez said.
According to a 1998 census, 60 percent of Venezuela’s farmland, nearly 70,000 square miles, was owned by less than 1 percent of the population. The survey said 90 percent of farmland given to peasants in a 1960 reform program reverted to large landholders.
Chavez said that the wealthy acquired illegal property titles through corrupt dealings with local officials during the governments prior to his 1998 rise to power.
Squatters say the Land Law gives them the right to seize empty lands, but landholders argue that the properties are seized illegally and that authorities rarely stop the invasions.
The opposition, which is still acting like a sore loser over the results of the recall vote, says that Chavez is dividing the country along class lines.
Chavez’s supporters say he is the first president in years to care for Venezuela’s poor majority.
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