A fake takeover, and a real takeover in today’s news:
First, the fake takeover,
Egyptian Embassy in Venezuela Briefly Taken Over, Chavez Says
Demonstrators briefly took over Egypt’s Embassy in Caracas today in a bid to show support for protests taking place in the North African country against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said.
The protesters entered peacefully under the pretext of collecting documents and once inside took over the building, Chavez said. They were persuaded to leave after speaking with Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, he said.
“The wanted to protest, of course, but they shouldn’t have done that because we are obliged to protect all of the embassies, which are sovereign territory,” Chavez said in comments carried on state television during a military event.
Seems to me that the protesters made their point and left, without much happening; indeed, the Wall Street Journal’s headline is less dramatic, Egypt Embassy In Venezuela Sees Shortlived Protest – Chavez
When reached for comment, a worker at the embassy who declined to identify himself said “everything was calm and had returned to normal.” He declined to give further details.
It seems to be another instance where Chávez is inflating his importance by injecting himself into today’s headline.
The real story in Venezuela, however, is the housing crisis. Chávez is now commanding the poor to squat on private property:
Chávez tackles housing crisis by urging poor to squat wealthy parts of Caracas
Move to exploit ‘unused’ land in capital rattles Venezuela’s middle class, as troops also take over ‘unproductive’ farms
ugo Chávez has sent out troops to take over farms and urged the poor to occupy “unused” land in wealthy areas of Caracas, prompting a wave of squats that is rattling Venezuela’s middle class.
The move by Venezuela’s president to step up the campaign to “recover” land and other property follows a housing crisis that has left millions of people in shabby conditions and affected his popularity in the run-up to next year’s election.
Squatters wearing red T-shirts from Chávez’s socialist party seized 20 spaces in a co-ordinated strike in the well-off Caracas municipality of Chacao last weekend, a move which shocked even some government supporters. Additional groups have targeted other cities.
Chávez’s attack on property rights, the cornerstone of democracy, continues (emphasis added),
The government has stepped up rural expropriations by deploying 1,600 troops at 47 farms in the western states of Merida and Zulia, claiming the farms were unproductive. The state has taken control of 2.5m hectares since Chávez gained power in 1999.
Just another day in the cult of Chavismo.
Al-Jazeera has continued livestream video in English from Egypt, which you can watch here.