After a post-referendum-defeat period of calm, Hugo Chavez is back on the balcony, threatening enemies of Venezuela's Potemkin democracy. (But Mr. Moynihan, you say, Venezuela is a democracy, Chavez is Venezuela's elected leader, and he graciously conceded when smacked down by voters!). AP reports that El Jefe is threatening to nationalize counterrevolutionary farms:
President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to take over farms or milk plants if owners refuse to sell their milk for domestic consumption and instead seek higher profits abroad or from cheese-makers. With the country recently facing milk shortages, Chavez said "it's treason" if farmers deny milk to Venezuelans while selling it across the border in Colombia or for gourmet cheeses. "In that case the farm must be expropriated," Chavez said, adding that the government could also take over milk plants and properties of beef producers.
Incidentally, these ungrateful farmers seek "higher profits" abroad because there are no profits to be had at home, thanks to the Bolivarian system of price controls that, despite impressive economic growth fueled by high oil prices, has left supermarket shelves bare. Chavez also threatened to nationalize those banks "neglecting laws requiring them to set aside nearly a third of all loans for agriculture, mortgages and small businesses at favorable rates":
President Hugo Chavez threatened on Saturday to take control of banks that fail to meet state-imposed loaning requirements designed to benefit Venezuela's farmers.
Chavez has threatened banks before. He raised the possibility last year of nationalizing commercial banks amid demands they use some of their profits to fund social programs for the poor.
He has not followed through on most of those threats, although Venezuela's central bank, which is controlled by his allies, ordered private banks in 2006 to double bank deposit reserves from 15 to 30 percent in attempt to head off inflation. The Venezuelan leader's warnings come amid fluctuating food shortages and rising inflation, which reached 22.5 percent in 2007—the highest official rate in Latin America.
My review of a recent Chavez biography here.