President Hugo Chavez says he was heading through downtown Caracas when he was shocked by the sight of a huge, nearly finished shopping mall amid the high-rise offices and apartments.Now there's a pleasant thought.
"They had already built a monster there," Chavez said. "I passed by there just recently and said, 'What is this? My God!'"
So the often-impulsive president told an allied mayor to halt construction and said this prime block of urban real estate should be expropriated. He said the sprawling six-story building might be put to better use as a hospital or university.
The exercise in drive-by socialism illustrates Chavez's tendency to govern from his gut, and to leap in when he thinks other government agencies — in this case city planners — aren't doing their job.
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Venezuelan architect Gaspar Arancibia said he agrees the mall was ill-conceived, without adequate streets to handle the traffic — a symptom of perpetually poor planning.
"I agree with the president, but it was very late. It should have been stopped a long time ago," Arancibia said.
"The president can't be making decisions of that sort. They have to be made by municipal governments," he added. "Because if everything depends on the president, we'd need to have a lot of similar presidents at the same time to solve many of our local problems."
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Hugo Chavez, the chunky commie who runs Venezuela, indulged in a little impromptu Marxism when he saw a shopping mall under construction, decided he didn't like it, and ordered it expropriated by the state.