People evacuate after the flooding
© Reuters/Carlos Garcia RawlinsPeople evacuate after the flooding of a river in Higuerote, about 100 km (60 miles) east of Caracas December 5, 2010.
Caracas - Venezuelan security forces have started housing families displaced by floods in tourist hotel rooms following an order by President Hugo Chavez to make use of vacant accommodation, local media said on Monday.

Heavy rains have killed at least 32 people and forced more than 100,000 from their homes in recent days. Emergencies have been declared in various states, and the country's Caribbean coast has been particularly hard hit by mudslides.

In a televised broadcast from one flooded area on Sunday, the president told the National Guard to begin moving families into vacant hotel accommodation.

"See how many buildings there are abandoned by tourists, and from today begin to occupy them with families," he said. "You will not pay anything," he told displaced people.

The El Universal newspaper quoted the head of the National Guard as saying flood-stricken people had been moved overnight into a hotel in the coastal resort of Higuerote.

Mayor General Luis Mota Dominguez told the newspaper the owners of the hotel had put the facility at their disposal.

The government said 101,684 people were being cared for at 710 shelters across the South American nation, and that 300 tones of humanitarian aid had been distributed in the western state of Falcon, the country's hardest-hit region.

More than 2,700 doctors had been deployed to guard against any outbreak of disease at the shelters, it added.

Torrential rains and floods have also hit neighboring Colombia. A mudslide there on Sunday buried up to 145 people, a local official said. The rain has already killed 170 people in Colombia this year and made 1.5 million homeless, albeit over a longer period.

Chavez blamed "criminal" capitalism for disrupting the global environment with disastrous consequences for most of the earth's people.

Chavez has given 25 families refuge in his presidential palace and ordered space to be made for others in ministries, army barracks and an upscale mall in the capital Caracas.

Venezuela is battling the floods as climate negotiators meet in Mexico to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol for fighting global warming.

Critics of Chavez say the impact of the rains show poor planning by his government and the failure of its housing policy after 11 years in power. Chavez says he is still working to overturn the inequalities of past capitalist governments.