Venezuela commandeers private hotels to house flood victims

VENEZUELA The Venezuela military has commandeered several privately-owned hotels to house some of the thousands of people who have gone homeless due to severe flooding throughout much of the country.

Hoteliers have not protested the occupation. National Guard Commander Luis Alfredo Motta says hotel owners are willingly collaborating with the military. At least 19 hotels in the capital of Caracas have opened their doors to flooding victims, and three hotels in the hard-hit coastal town of Higuerote are also working with the military. Motta is negotiating with the owners of eight hotels in the state of Miranda to join the effort.

“We are always open to helping, but within a cordial relationship in which the rules are clear,” says Ricardo Cusanno, vice president of the National Federation of Hotels, The Associated Press reports.

Last week, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez blamed capitalism for the devastation and suggested seizing hotels by force, if necessary. “This is also a product of capitalism because the rich took all the high ground leaving the poor near the river that burst,” he said. “We need to go after the high ground.”