Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared Wednesday that the government will seize private property and assume control of the pristine Los Roques islands, making them a state-run tourist destination. Located just north of Venezuela’s coast, the archipelago features long, white sand beaches and rich coral reefs. The islands are also an expensive tourist hotspot. Private homes have been built on some of the islands. “There are some supposed owners. They privatized it, so to speak, the high bourgeoisie, including the international set,” Chavez said, speaking over the telephone with a Venezuelan television station. Since his election in 1999, Chavez has nationalized several sectors of the economy, including parts of the oil industry. The practice has made him popular with the country’s poor, while ostracizing members of the business community. Chavez didn’t give a timeline for the nationalization of the Los Roques islands, but said that the government will build hostels “for the people,” while using confiscated yachts to ferry them to and from the islands.