Venezuelan lawmakers probe Chavez brothers for allegedly acquiring ranches

Venezuela's National Assembly opened an investigation Wednesday into accusations that two of President Hugo Chavez's brothers acquired 17 ranches in recent years - if true a potential stain on the image of Chavez's socialist movement. Lawmaker Wilmer Azuaje arrived at the assembly to present documents containing his allegations before the congressional audit commission in a closed-door session. Azuaje, of the president's socialist party, told the Venezuelan television channel Globovision on Tuesday that he has documents indicating Chavez's brothers Argenis and Narciso acquired 17 ranches through front men who carried out the transactions on their behalf. The legislator said the haciendas are all located in Chavez's home state of Barinas, where the president's father is the elected governor. There was no immediate reaction from Chavez's younger brothers or the president, who was traveling in Brazil.