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No payout for Smurfit land

VENEZUELAN leader Hugo Chavez has refused to compensate the Irish Smurfit Kappa Group for a massive land grab of 12,000 hectares of forestry plantations.

The government has moved to take three different farms owned by cardboard manufacturer Smurfit, and said that it wouldn't negotiate over the issue.

Agriculture Minister Juan Carlos Loyo said that the lands belong to the state.

"We're going to have a dialogue with the Smurfit company, but we're not going to negotiate," he said. "They should be on less fertile land."

President Hugo Chavez ordered the removal of Smurfit from all its agricultural properties in Portuguesa state last week as he intensified his plan to take large land holdings from private owners.

Chavez said last week that Smurfit's eucalyptus plantations have dried sources of water for irrigation.

Venezuela confiscated 1,500 hectares from the Dublin-based paper products company in 2009 and a cattle ranch from UK-based Vestey Group Ltd in 2005.

The company refused to make any comment to the latest development.