The Venezuela government has taken possession of a massive country estate formerly belonging to the wealthy banker and fugitive from justice, Nelson Mezerhane.
The announcement was made by president Hugo Chavez last Sunday during his weekly television broadcast, Alo Presidente.
The Hato Santa Elena, located in a remote area of the state of Apure, consists of more than 38,000 acres and will be converted into a Socialist Production Center.
Mezerhane fled Venezuela last June after violating numerous financial laws related to his ownership of the private bank, Banco Federal. He is currently taking refuge in the United States.
According to Venezuelan Vice President, Elias Jaua, the Hato Santa Elena was being administrated under fraudulent and exploitative conditions where 18 workers with salaries under the minimum wage and without social security benefits were not allowed to leave for 8 months.
“It’s the corruption of capitalism”, Jaua said.
During the recovery of the estate, President Chavez made a call to end all exploitation of agricultural workers in the country and ordered officials to carry out a survey to uncover abusive working conditions.
“I give the order to the National Guard, the National Land Institute to comb Venezuela, estate by estate, hacienda by hacienda. We cannot accept the fact that our small farmers continue to be exploited in such a miserable way by a corrupt bourgeoisie”, exclaimed the Venezuelan leader.
SUGAR PACKAGING PLANT
Also during his program, Chavez inaugurated, via satelite, a new sugar packaging plant in the Caracas neighborhood 23rd of January. The plant, called Panal 2021, will package in its first phase at 30% capacity, 7.2 tons of sugar daily, and will reach 369 tons monthly when operating at full capacity.
The sugar will be distributed to community members at costs well below those of the private sector.
The neighborhood 23rd of January is one of the most organized communities in the capital Caracas and, according to the president of the Socialist Agrarian Development Fund, Ricardo Sanchez, Panal 2021 is the direct result of community organizing initiatives.
“This project grew out of the organized communities who are operating the productive part of this plant”, Sanchez explained. Sanchez highlighted the fact that seven community councils from around the neighbourhood are involved in the plant’s activities and directly participated in its design and construction.
Panal 2021 is a “social property business” and is part of a larger food plan being implemented by the Venezuelan government to ensure the availability of basic foodstuffs for the population through a state-run supply network.
According to Food Minister, Carlos Osorio, the government run supply chain is currently providing roughly a third of staple food consumption in the country.
“We are advancing with the supply of 244,200 tons of food monthly whereas the monthly consumption of the basic food basket is approximately 750,000”.
President Chavez called on the government supply to be risen to meet 50% of consumption needs.