Chavez Threatens to Shut Down Brewery
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez threatened Venezuela's largest food producer anew on Sunday, warning that his government could go after Empresas Polar and shut down its brewery.
Speaking during his weekly TV and radio program, Chavez said authorities are investigating whether food is being hoarded by "a bourgeoisie that wants to do harm."
"If Polar continues hoarding, we will have to go after Polar," he said.
Days earlier, National Guard troops seized 132 tons (120 metric tons) of food that officials accused Polar of hoarding in storage. And last month, Chavez ordered a state takeover of property where Polar has warehouses and offices.
Chavez has previously accused Polar of evading government price controls on basic foodstuffs by producing fewer of the price-controlled items.
Polar did not immediately respond Sunday to Chavez's comments, but in the past it has denied wrongdoing and called the recent seizures an arbitrary "confiscation" by the government.
The president also wondered aloud what the government would do with Polar's brewery in the event of a takeover.
"What is the government going to do with a beer factory? I'd close it," Chavez said. "Is beer maybe a national necessity? How many deaths have there been here due to the beer that Polar makes?"
Chavez has nationalized businesses in industries from cement to telecommunications in recent years.