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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Venezuela steps up land seizures
President Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez has more farms in his sights
Venezuela's government has seized more than 330,000 hectares (815,450 acres) of land to redistribute them under an agrarian reform programme.

President Hugo Chavez said 16 farms - which he described as large and unproductive - had been expropriated.

His government was moving towards a "collective property" policy as part of its "drive towards socialism", he said.

Critics say land reform has failed so far to revive the agricultural sector and end dependence on food imports.

More expropriations

Mr Chavez announced the latest round of land seizures during his TV and radio programme Hello, President.

"From today [Sunday] this becomes social property to satisfy the needs of the people," he said, speaking from one of the seized farms in the state of Barinas.

Another 13 farms would be expropriated in the coming weeks, Mr Chavez added.

He said the land would be used for cattle production.

In the past five years, almost 2m hectares have been seized after being declared unproductive or because the owners did not have the property documents in order.

Mr Chavez, who was re-elected with a large majority last year, has pledged to turn Venezuela into a socialist state.

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