WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — I had the pleasure of sitting down recently for dinner with a gentleman who had just been expropriated.
Yes, you read correctly; his assets were seized by a sovereign government. His name is Diego Arria — the highly regarded former assistant U.N. general secretary who also served as Venezuela’s U.N. ambassador. He told me how his 370-acre ranch back home was taken over with much fanfare by El Presidente, Hugo Chávez, the star expropriator.
The president placed Diego’s ranch in service of his socialist revolution, asserting that the ambassador had plotted to assassinate him. That accusation gave Arria membership in a club that includes George W. Bush, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and most recently Barack Obama, all of whom, according to Chávez, at one time or another plotted to kill him. Unfortunately for Venezuela, the hyperbole surrounding this latest seizure was likely just another stunt to shift attention away from the recent 5.8% collapse in economic activity.