GLOBAL ECONOMY

U.S. Rice Farmers Cash In On Venezuelan Socialism

SAYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Farmers  harvest rice in a paddy field during rice harvesting season on September 18, 2011 in Sayo city, Hyogo, Japan. September is the month for Inekari 'the rice harvest' in Japan. Harvesting is mainly done by combine but in some poorer areas traditional methods of cutting the rice by hand is still used. According to official Agricultural information, Hyogo Prefecture cultivates 33890 hectares of eating rice and 4130 hectares of sake production rice.  (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)

SAYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 18: Farmers harvest rice in a paddy field during rice harvesting season on September 18, 2011 in Sayo city, Hyogo, Japan. September is the month for Inekari 'the rice harvest' in Japan. Harvesting is mainly done by combine but in some poorer areas traditional methods of cutting the rice by hand is still used. According to official Agricultural information, Hyogo Prefecture cultivates 33890 hectares of eating rice and 4130 hectares of sake production rice. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)  (2011 Getty Images)

Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer here, is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas.

His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's late president and critic of what he called U.S. "imperialism."

It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez's self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor.

But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice—from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. "The rice industry has been very good to us," Mr. Orlicek said, sitting in his newly renovated home, appointed with a baby grand piano played by his wife, Phyllis.

For the full story, visit The Wall Street Journal.

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