Venezuela’s Marxist dictatorship is destroying property rights across the country. We’ve noted in the past how it’s happened in the countryside, at sugar farms, on nature reserves, among the large and small corporations, and in apartment and office buildings. But these aren’t the only places – the destruction of property rights also is happening in the poorest neighborhoods.
In an unexpectedly good article, Alex Holland, a writer at Venezuelanalysis, a Chavista propaganda organ, unwittingly describes how even poor shantytown dwellerss with desperate need for title-deed ownership are being badly affected by collectivization, which is destroying the weak property rights these urban poor once had. The writer explains the horrible dynamic with perfect clarity and honesty and then ineptly defends it, making the Marxist propaganda easy for us to gloss over. Evidently, the facts on the ground were just too big for this writer.
Here is how it happens:
People who live in the urban barrios, those ramshackle red brick houses that starkly encircle Caracas on mountain after mountain cannot just get title deed but must join a 100-200-strong collective called an “Urban Land Committee” or, CTU, first. If they don’t join one of these, they get no title deed and are shut out of the system. The system came into being based on a 2002 decree by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez.
There are over 5,200 of these collectives, averaging 147 houses in each, representing more than a fifth of Venezuelans, or 5.7 million of Venezuela’s 25-million strong population. The author notes that the explicit aim of them is social “change.”
Then the issue of who the land really belongs to is brought up.
In a loaded passage, the article says many of the slum houses are on land that is vaguely described as belonging to other people. Some houses are said to be longstanding squats that no one did anything about. That’s one justification for ascertaining who has a right to property. The other is of numbers. Large numbers, as in collectives, not length of stay, or effort to get title deed, or tax payments, or investments, just numbers, are the other criteria for determining who has a right to occupy a property.