Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez threatened to nationalize private banks which refuse to obey an official mandate and finance the regime’s development projects, sparking more concerns about the future of Venezuela and its ailing economy. The socialist “President” also vowed to step up his failed land confiscation and redistribution schemes.
The Venezuelan ruler has already taken over around a dozen banks and directly controls almost a third of the nation’s banking sector. Millions of acres of farmland have also been seized by the regime and redistributed to build collective farms, resulting in a dramatic decrease in agricultural production which has forced the once relatively prosperous nation to import increasing quantities of food.
But Chavez blames the banks. During his weekly talk-show program, the self-styled “revolutionary” leader blasted some of the nation’s largest remaining financial institutions. He accused them of failing to comply with a rule purportedly forcing all banks to dedicate at least 10 percent of their lending to the government’s projects — mostly state-controlled agricultural initiatives.
“The private banks that do not comply with the constitution and their duty, well, I do not have any problem nationalizing them,” Chavez roared. “We must ensure the constitution and laws are complied with!”
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Photo: Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during incoming Defense Minister Gen. Henry Rangel Silva's swearing-in ceremony at Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.