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This Land Was Your Land

Author: Michael Albertus

In Venezuela, land redistribution is not just an ideological imperative — it’s how the regime rewards its friends and punishes its enemies.

Historically, land reform has been a showcase of authoritarian regimes seeking to consolidate their power. Autocrats in countries such as China, Egypt, Mexico, Peru, and Zimbabwe have burnished their revolutionary credentials and defanged their reactionary foes by redistributing land from powerful landowners to the rural poor. Such class-based authoritarian land reforms are often broad in nature, granting swathes of land from large landowners directly to the laborers that work it.
In Venezuela, however, the government of Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, has given land reform an additional, polarizing dimension — it has used it to selectively dispense patronage to its supporters and punish its enemies.

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