Venezuela will buy a group of large farms and thousands of cattle from a British company announced President Hugo Chavez as part of his populist drive to redistribute land among the country’s peasants.
Chavez has made land reform a central part of his aim of remodelling Venezuela as a socialist society and the government has taken over millions of acres in the last five years.
“We will soon be taking control of all the farms that since 1909 belonged to the English company, Agroflora. When? I have already given the green light,” Chavez said.
Agroflora is the Venezuelan subsidiary of the Vestey Group, a meat products company owned by Britain’s Lord Vestey family with an annual turnover of £ 500 million. The group was well known in the River Plate with meat packing plants in Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil plus the Blue Star Line shipping company.
The world famous brand Fray Bentos corned beef was born precisely at the Vestey’s group plant in Uruguay.
Venezuela took over four Vestey farms in 2005.
“We will pay them of course ... what they invested here during more than a century,” he said.
The new takeovers affect 740,000 acres of farmland and 120,000 cattle, Agriculture Minister Juan Carlos Loyo said.