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  • Chavez to camp in Gaddafi tent to aid flood victims

    Rains kill more than 30 in Venezuela, 100,000 homeless

    President Hugo Chavez said Friday he plans to turn over his office to flood victims and move into a Bedouin tent given to him by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

    "In the formal, number one office we can install some beds. It's big... I'll just move to the khaima (Bedouin tent) that Gaddafi gave me. Set it up in the garden," Chavez said on national television during a tour of a stricken Caracas neighborhood.

    Gaddafi is known for holding court in a large Bedouin tent when on foreign visits and used one when on a trip to the Venezuela Caribbean island of Margarita last year.

    Chavez said he would use the tent much the same way Gaddafi uses his when he goes on foreign visits. "I'll greet presidents. Here comes President (Rafael) Correa (of Ecuador)... well, I'll receive him in the tent," said Chavez.

    Devastating floods and mudslides across Venezuela have killed at least 38 people and left thousands homeless in recent weeks.

    Last week, Chavez opened the doors of the presidential Miraflores Palace to 25 homeless families, who on Friday will be moved to the headquarters of the presidential guard.

    On Sunday, Chavez also announced the government would take over private property and rezone a national park to provide housing for flood victims.

    Chavez has urged members of his cabinet and the commanders of the armed forces to follow his altruistic example.

    "If you see a house in bad shape... you've got to move those people you know where? To your headquarters, to your office, where you've got air conditioning and a bathroom. Two families can be housed there," he said on Friday during a visit to a flood damaged home.

    "Nicolas's Yellow House is pretty big," said Chavez referring to the building where Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro has his offices. "A lot of people can live in there."

    The worst rains in a decade have wrought havoc in South America's top oil exporter, killing more than 30 people and leaving homeless more than 100,000 people from coastal villages and city slums.

    Chavez has zig-zagged across the country to supervise humanitarian relief. He is criticized for not building enough new housing during his 12 years in office but blames huge, unstable slums on his free-market predecessors.

    In the formal, number one office we can install some beds. It's big... I'll just move to the khaima that Gaddafi gave me. Set it up in the garden

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez