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Venezuela now nationalizing food

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Food prices have skyrocketed in Venezuela because of inflation. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez instituted price controls, but that only led to shortages. His newest strategy is to resort to an old trick: nationalization. Yesterday, Chavez seized control of a factory owned by U.S. agri giant Cargill. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.


Dan Grech: Venezuelan President President Chavez has already taken over oil, electricity, steel, cement and telecommunications companies. Now, he's onto rice.

Chavez says he's taken over a mill operated by Minnesota-based Cargill. He says the company is skirting price controls. Cargill says it produces a kind of rice that's outside of the price controls, and it's been making that kind of rice for years.

Earlier in the week, Chavez ordered army units to take over rice mills operated by other companies. And now he's threatening to do the same with Polar, the country's largest private food company.

Compared to nationalizations of oil companies or banks, food takeover come relatively cheap. That's critical for this oil-producing nation, which has seen oil prices drop to a third of their July peak.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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