Venezuela seizes US-owned consumer products factory

Venezuela on Monday took over a factory abandoned last week by the US consumer products company Kimberly-Clark and will restart production of its product line, which includes facial tissue, toilet paper and diapers, Venezuelan Labour Minister Oswaldo Vera said.

The Kimberly-Clark plant in Maracay in Venezuela's northern Aragua region closed on Friday. The Dallas, Texas-based company said the country's economic situation, a lack of hard currency and raw materials made it impossible to continue operations there.

Speaking on state television, Vera said President Nicolas Maduro had ordered the seizure of the plant at the request of its 1,200 workers. He said the government would supply the raw materials the plant needs to operate.

Venezuela and its socialist government are struggling amid a historic economic crisis that has caused widespread shortages of food, medicine and household supplies like those that Kimberly-Clark produces.

In recent days some Venezuelans have crossed the border to Colombia to shop for basic staples that are in short supply in Venezuela.

The occupied plant has the capacity to produce 33 million diapers per month.

Vera said the occupation was temporary but warned that other companies ceasing production may have their doors reopened by the government as well.

"A business that closes is a business that will be reopened by workers," he said.

The seizure was not the first for Venezuela. Maduro's government occupied a plant owned by US consumer products company Clorox in 2014, according to Bloomberg News.

Last update: Tue, 12/07/2016 - 11:27

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