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Venezuela says cement takeovers could be next

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday said his nationalization drive could be expanded to cement-makers if they were found to be worsening a housing shortfall by favoring exports over domestic sales.

Buoyed by a landslide reelection in December, Chavez has forged ahead with the construction a socialist republic, taking over sectors of the economy he calls strategic, such as power utilities, oil projects and the country's No. 1 media company.

"We need to investigate the cement factories. I want reports ... because what is going on is that they still prefer to export at a higher price than issue supplies in the interest of the Venezuelan people," the anti-U.S. leftist said in a speech.

"If the cement-makers do not want to, then very well, we will take them over," he said in a speech recalling a 2002 coup attempt against him, adding that Venezuelan cement-makers had been privatized too cheaply "at the price of a scrawny hen."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The housing crisis in Caracas is extremely serious and is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. That really isn't even debatable. What is debatable is the means that President Chavez is using to allocate resources such as cement in order to solve the crisis. If cement companies can make more by exporting, why doesn't Chavez simply match foreign offers with the vast amount of oil revenue he's sitting on? I don't see why he can't outbid them rather than take over the cement industry.

Obviously this is "neo-liberal" economic thinking which hasn't done much to help Venezuelans over the years. But it seems like something SeƱor Presidente might at least consider.

Then again, he probably has. Which means he either finds nationalization more cost effective in this case, or less of a hassle, or to his long term political advantage. Or all of the above.

April 16, 2007 10:39 AM


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