We just posted a smart, detailed piece on the significance of last week's election in Venezuela (from our man in Caracas, Antonio Sosa), explaining why Hugo Chavez's ruling party took so many seats in parliament when their margin of victory was so small. Sosa rightly worries that, in the time between now and when the new assembly is seated on January 5, the government will attempt to further centralize power by granted el presidente decree powers.
And now, just a few days after the enormous electoral setback to the "Bolivarian revolution," Chavez is vowing to "'radicalize' his socialist revolution even further," according to Reuters.
He started on Sunday by announcing the expropriation of land owned by the Venezuelan agricultural company Agroislena and vowing to hasten the nationalization of land held by the British meat products company Vestey Foods Group….
Chavez rejected the idea of seeking to mend relations with private enterprise, announcing the nationalization of 250,000 hectares (618,000 acres) this month and saying, "There will be no deal with the bourgeoisie."
Chavez repeatedly targeted the latifundia, or large landowners, during his regular Sunday television show "Alo Presidente," saying Agroislena was now public property.
He also referred to Compania Inglesa, a Venezuelan unit of Vestey, a multinational held for four generations by Britain's Vestey family.
"All of the lands of the so-called Compania Inglesa will be nationalized now. I don't want to lose another day," Chavez said from the agricultural state of Guarico.
And the Associated Press reports that the country's civilian militias, modeled on Cuba's neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) and the late, unlamented Milicia Popular Sandinista (MPS) in Nicaragua, will be getting weapons. Can't see how that could backfire:
"Who has seen a militia without weapons?" Chavez said during his Sunday television and radio program. He said he was surprised when he met some militiamen standing guard recently and learned they had no guns.
"The militias are the people with weapons in hand," Chavez told an audience including military officers and high-ranking officials in rural Guarico state.
"We need to break old paradigms because we're still seeing the militias as if they were a complementary force, some battalions that get together once a month over there, or go and march somewhere," Chavez said. "No, buddy. The militia is a permanent territorial unit and it should be armed, equipped and trained—campesinos, workers."