Venezuela’s Chavez Announces Expropriation of “Illegal Houses” in Los Roques Archipelago

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez announced that “illegal houses” on the Venezuelan archipelago Los Roques would be expropriated and converted into low-cost hotels for poorer Venezuelans this Sunday.

By Rachael Boothroyd - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Los Roques is one of Venezuela’s most popular tourist destinations (archive).
Los Roques is one of Venezuela’s most popular tourist destinations (archive).
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Coro, October 11th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez announced that “illegal houses” on the Venezuelan archipelago Los Roques would be expropriated and converted into low-cost hotels for poorer Venezuelans this Sunday, during state television programme “Dando y Dando”.

The cluster of islands is famous for being the playground of Venezuela’s rich elite and international tourists, who often holiday on the Caribbean islands. Despite the fact that the group of islands was declared a protected area in 1972, numerous holiday homes and private builds have been constructed there, particularly in el Cayo Madrisquí, where Chávez states that various houses were illegally built.

“The upper-class bourgeoisie privatised all of that (Los Roques) and that’s what we are going to expropriate,” he said, adding that yachts expropriated from fugitive bankers would also be used for sight-seeing tours in the area.

In August the president used the special authority granted to him by the Venezuelan National Assembly to create the Insular Territory of Miranda. The recently founded territory includes Los Roques, La Orchila and the Archipelago Las Aves.

“Some people believe that those are autonomous territories. Wealthy sectors and the oligarchy do not event think that they belong to Venezuela,” said Chávez at the time.

On Wednesday, the president appointed Vice-admiral Armando Laguna Laguna as head of the newly-established territory. Laguna will be in charge of the political running of the territory and will also oversee the implementation of government projects on the islands, which the government hopes will begin straight away.

A popular consultation process with the islands’ inhabitants began last week through a governmental commission, which was sent to consult citizens regarding the needs of Los Roques’ population and to organise a debate of the country’s popular power laws.

“We were with the people, institutions and the Vice-admiral Armando Laguna Laguna. The possibility of drawing up a development plan for the whole of the region was raised, and it was suggested that Los Roques should become a commune in order to link all the activities being carried out there for the benefit of all of its inhabitants,” said Deputy of the Permanent Environmental Committee, Manuel Briceño.

United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) representative and member of the commission, Odalys Monzon, related that one of the primary concerns expressed by inhabitants of Los Roques was the absence of a health clinic.

“We spoke with the President of Social Security, Carlos Rotondaro, and construction of an outpatient’s department is already underway here,” said the representative.

According to Briceño, the creation of the new territory aims to bring socio-economic and judicial benefits to the people of Los Roques, and will “permit access to a patrimonial site that belongs to all Venezuelans”.

As well as low cost hotels for ordinary Venezuelans, Chávez also stated that a fishing centre would be built on the islands and confirmed that the move was a result of years of study, carried out by governmental political and geo-political research teams.

“We have to exercise our full sovereignty over that territorial sea and over the exclusive economic zone, which is one of the biggest in the world,” said the president.