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Chavez and full nationalization
by Amin George Forji
2007-01-12 09:44:05
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President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has, prior to his official swearing in ceremony for a third presidential term, announced moves which, if validated by the country's congress, would transform the country into a full socialist state.

In his first live broadcast of 2007, Chavez said if Venezuela aspires to develop and improve on the standard of living of the citizenry, then it must transfer the ownership and control of lucrative companies that directly affect daily lives of people from foreign hands to state control through what he described as "a revolutionary enabling law".

To that effect, he announced that upon beginning a third crucial mandate, he will seek parliamentary vote to grant him extra powers to nationalize all major Venezuelan oil refineries, energy and telecom companies. He added that Venezuela was on a journey of no return to become full socialist state par excellence, "Venezuela is moving towards a socialist republic and this requires deep reform of our national constitution. We are in an existential moment of Venezuelan life...we're heading towards socialism, and nothing and no-one can prevent it."

The move means that all corporations that were privatised under the structural adjustment program (SAP) would eventually escheat to state control and ownership. American-owned corporations are expected to be affected by this imminent nationalization policy, notably CA Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, Electricidad de Caracas and AES. The country's telecommunication firm CANTV is also expected to fall victim to the nationalisation plan.

Caracas and Washington have had strained relations for the past five years. Chavez accuses Washington of sponsoring dissidents to destabilise Venezuela and take-over power through a coup, plus foster America's "dark" agenda, which he clams is bound to fail for life. Washington, on her part, accuses Chavez of sowing seeds of discord in Latin America.

In his speech, Chavez also frowned upon the autonomy currently enjoyed by the central bank, saying it has been "disastrous" for Venezuela, and so must end. "The central bank must not be autonomous, that is a neo-liberal idea," he said. According to Swissinfo, Venezuelan bonds felt by over 1% in the stock exchange markets just hours after Chavez's speech.

In the fiery speech, Chavez also criticized the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, qualifying him as "an asshole" and "an idiot". He said the best advice he could give him is to resign.

Chavez won a convincing victory of 63% in the last presidential ballot on December 3rd 2006. Parliament is dominated by his allies and any bill, however controversial looks certain to be passed into law.

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