Hugo's hugely popular step

Published: Tuesday 15 February 2005

Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez has made a momentous move towards justice and prosperity for the country's rural poor. He recently signed a new rule on land reform that aims to do away with giant estates controlled by a handful of rich people.

Labelling the pattern of land ownership in the country as an "outrageous situation", Chavez pointed out that less nearly 80 per cent of the land was owned by merely five per cent of the owners. He said he wanted to take steps to effectively implement Venezuela's four-year-old land reform law. As part of the new measure, a national land commission will be established that will conduct inspections at ranches across the country. It will review land ownership and use issues.

The ranchers have threatened to take Chavez to the Supreme Court. Jose Luis Betancour, president of the ranchers' federation, reportedly said the step was unconstitutional and an attack on private property.

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