Venezuela Against Seizing Golf Courses

The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 30, 2006; 9:52 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's government on Wednesday objected to an order from the mayor of Caracas calling for the expropriation of the city's three main golf courses to build public housing.

The mayor, Juan Bareto, on Tuesday ordered the "forced acquisition" of the courses under eminent domain. Barreto has said the courses would yield valuable land to build homes for the poor.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Hugo Chavez's government "does not share the decision adopted by the mayor."

Rangel said the courts must rule on the seizures first.

City attorney Juan Manuel Vadell said the golf courses' owners have 30 days to appear before the mayor's office and appeal.

Several members at the Caracas Country Club scoffed at the expropriation plans in between practice putts.

"It's another ruse. They believe that this measure is going resolve the housing problem, but there's no enough space here to build many houses," said Rene Alvarez.

"The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans without their own roof, and I think the mayor will have to find some other kind of solution."

© 2006 The Associated Press