Venezuela seizing factories, arresting owners

Socialist Venezuela is so bankrupt that it is unable to import key commodities and unable to supply electricity to factories, so scapegoats have become necessary. The situation became critical when the country’s largest beer producer, Polar, halted production a couple of weeks ago because it was unable to import barley, owing to Venezuela’s lack of foreign exchange. Venezuelans are among the world’s heaviest consumer of beer, and with the summer coming upon them, the lack of the cooling beverage became intolerable to the “masses” that are supposed to support the government on Nicholas Maduro.

Valentina Oropeza of AFP reports:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a sweeping crackdown Saturday under a new emergency decree, ordering the seizure of paralyzed factories, the arrest of their owners and military exercises to counter alleged foreign threats.

The embattled leftist is struggling to contain a raging economic crisis that has led to food shortages, soaring prices, riots, looting and vigilante justice, pushing Venezuela to the brink of collapse.

He accused the United States on Friday of destabilizing the country at the behest of the "fascist Venezuelan right," prompting him to declare a state of emergency.

Addressing his supporters at a rally in central Caracas on Saturday, Maduro announced some of the actions to be taken under the decree, which has not yet been published.

"We must take all measures to recover productive capacity, which is being paralyzed by the bourgeoisie," he told the cheering, red-clad crowd.

"Anyone who wants to halt (production) to sabotage the country should get out, and those who do must be handcuffed and sent to the PGV (Venezuelan General Penitentiary)."

The emergency decree may well be used to prevent a recall vote, being pushed by the opposition:

Opposition leaders accused Maduro of using the emergency decree to destabilize the country and block them from organizing a referendum on removing him from office.

The opposition has launched the process by collecting 1.8 million signatures in favor of a recall vote, but say authorities are now stalling.

At a rival rally on the east side of the capital, opposition leader Henrique Capriles warned Maduro was pursuing a dangerous strategy.

"Venezuela is a bomb that could explode any minute," he told some 1,000 protesters decked out in the red, yellow and blue of the Venezuelan flag.

"If you block the democratic path, we don't know what could happen."

US officials are openly predicting the fall of Maduro (hat tip: Rick Moran):

In a bleak assessment of Venezuela's worsening crisis, the senior officials expressed doubt that unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro would allow a recall referendum this year, despite opposition-led protests demanding a vote to decide whether he stays in office.

But the two officials, briefing a small group of reporters in Washington, predicted that Maduro, who heads Latin America’s most ardently anti-U.S. government and a major U.S. oil supplier, was not likely to be able to complete his term, which is due to end after elections in late 2018.

They said one “plausible” scenario would be that Maduro’s own party or powerful political figures would force him out and would not rule out the possibility of a military coup. Still, they said there was no evidence of any active plotting or that he had lost support from the country’s generals.

There is a real possibility of starvation, horrendous political violence, and mass suffering in a nation that holds the world’s largest oil reserves.  Socialism’s toxicity has never been more tellingly demonstrated than in Venezuela, which is rich in natural resources, but falling apart, threatening to become another North Korea, all in the name of socialism.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman