Chavez seizes landmark Hilton

The US-based Hilton hotel chain is “evaluating” the seizure after President Hugo Chavez ordered the “acquisition by force” of the landmark hotel.

“At this time, Hilton Worldwide is evaluating how the Venezuelan government’s action affects its interest in this hotel,” said Karla Visconti, a Hilton Worldwide spokeswoman for the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America.

Chavez has said he seized the hotel on because its owners dared to impose conditions on its use by his government to host a summit there last month. The hotel would help develop tourism projects in a “socialist framework”, a decree signed by Mr Chavez said.

The hotel, in Nueva Esparta state, was targeted for state takeover after it was used to host the Africa-South America Summit. The hotel housed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe during the Summit.

It is President Chavez’s second takeover of a Hilton-run hotel. In 2007, the government assumed control of the Caracas Hilton, renaming it the Alba Caracas.

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In the past four years, Mr Chavez’s government has nationalised industries it considers strategic to the state, including electrical utilities, cement, steel, oil services and banking.