Chavez Warns That Venezuela May Seize Nestle, Parmalat If Sabotage Continues
CARACAS (AFP) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday warned Venezuela could expropriate milk processing plants based here and owned by Italy's Parmalat SPA (PLT.MI) and Swiss-owned Nestle SA.
"It doesn't make any difference if we set up (state) milk processing plants if there is no milk to process because it is all taken away by Parmalat or Nestle," Chavez complained in his weekly radio and television program "Hello Mr. President."
"This government has got to take a tougher line," he warned.
"If it is proven that Nestle or Parmalat -- under different economic means of pressure or blackmail, such as by offering money in advance -- are making off with the raw milk output and leaving state plants without the milk they need, then that is called sabotage.
The Constitution has to be enforced, the government has to step in and expropriate the plants," Chavez stressed.
"We are facing an economic conspiracy and we are forced to act to defend national security," Chavez added.
Venezuela for months has been rocked by shortages of basic foods such as milk, eggs, sugar, beef, chicken and wheat flour. Milk is among the products that has faced the worst supply woes.
Caracas blames exporting to other countries for the supply chain woes. Exporters blame price controls the government put in place five years ago.