Venezuelan officials including soldiers Friday temporarily seized a pasta factory owned by U.S. food giant Cargill in a pricing spat, the latest move by President Hugo Chavez's government against foreign companies.
During a decade in office, the socialist Chavez has nationalized large swathes of OPEC member nation Venezuela's economy, including a rice mill owned by Cargill earlier this year and dozens of oil service companies last week.
Deputy food minister Rafael Coronado said the new 90-day seizure was ordered after officials found the factory was not producing enough of a type of pasta sold at cheap, government-established prices.
"There was a marked noncompliance with the law," Coronado said, flanked by soldiers, in a television broadcast from outside the plant in the coastal state of Vargas.
Chavez launched his main nationalization drive during a five-year oil boom when he took over the energy sector, but he has hardly slowed the pace despite crude prices tumbling in recent months.
Struggling with Latin America's highest rate of inflation, Chavez has this year moved against food processing companies accused of dodging government low-price regulations and stepped up takeovers of farms deemed idle....MORE
Taking over farms? Isn't that a page from Zimbabwe's playbook?