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News: Economy

Venezuelan Government Expropriates Major Shopping Mall

Merida, November 4th, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Tuesday the government formally expropriated the shopping centre Sambil La Candelaria, located in Caracas. The expropriation includes the moveable and unmoveable assets, and any improvements or additions to the real estate.

According to the government decree, the shopping complex and the large parking area will be used to carry out the plan of Development of the Socialist Markets Corporation and Spaces for the Promotion of the Cultural Revolution. The Corporation of Commerce and Socialist Supply (Comersso) will execute the plan.

Comersso aims to facilitate the supply, selling, and interchange of products created by communes, socialist factories, and other nationalised companies and to distribute other important goods and services to the people.

The government decree also specified that the Sambil area should be “transformed into a meeting space for Venezuelans within the framework of a sustainable economy and permitting the development of the exchange of goods and services as well as the development of cultural expression”.

Minister for Commerce Richard Canan will be in charge of the execution of the project.

Sambil is a chain of huge shopping centres in Venezuela. Sambil La Candelaria was in the middle of construction when the National Assembly first declared it of “public utility and social interest”, the first step in expropriation, in January this year. The construction was delayed for a while, then resumed.

Venezuelan Television (VTV) then reported in March that community members near the construction zone proposed the site be put to social use, for things such as a university, library, or symphonic orchestra hall, and communal council spokesperson Lourdes Ibarren said the shopping centre was making traffic worse, and causing sound, environmental and visual pollution.

Neighbours labelled the area a “capitalist temple” and the “Cohen Monster” (after the Sambil creator Salomon Cohen).

The Cisneros Organisation is the largest shareholder of Sambil, with 30.4% of shares. It is a conglomerate of companies belonging to Gustavo Cisneros, the second richest man in South America, and the richest in Venezuela. Among the companies in the conglomerate are opposition channel Venevision, Coca-Cola Femsa, and the Miss Venezuela Pageant.

The expropriation of Sambil follows the government’s nationalisation of the Exito supermarket chain in January this year. The stores have since been converted into “Bicentenary” stores, also part of the Comersso network.

Published on Nov 4th 2010 at 7.44pm