Maduro threatens to seize idle Venezuela plants

Caracas, May 15

President Nicolas Maduro threatened on Saturday to take over idle factories and jail their owners following a decree granting him expanded powers to act in the face of a deep economic crisis.

Maduro’s remarks came as Venezuela’s opposition warned the embattled leader that if he tries to block an attempt to hold a recall referendum, society could ‘explode’.

Speaking to supporters in the capital, Caracas, the president ordered ‘all actions to recover the production apparatus, which is being paralysed by the bourgeoisie’.

He also said that businesspeople who ‘sabotage the country’ by halting production at their plants risk being ‘put in handcuffs’.

Last month the country’s largest food and beverage distributor, Empresas Polar, shut down its last operating beer plant. It says it has been unable to access hard currency to buy raw materials.

Maduro accuses Polar and others of trying to destabilise the financially stricken country by exacerbating shortages of goods from foodstuffs to medicines to toilet paper.

Meanwhile duelling anti- and pro-government crowds demonstrated in Caracas on Saturday for and against a bid to recall the president.