Venezuela seizes sugar and cement plants, ends Port deal

Venezuela seizes sugar and cement plants, ends Port deal
Published: 12 September 2006

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Sunday that

his government expropriated a sugar mill, a cement plant and would take over

the administration of a port from private sector hands in Lake Maracaibo.

"I give the order publicly right now to end the Puerto La Ceiba concession

... we’re putting an end to that (administrative) concession," Chavez said

during his Sunday televised show, according to a transcript. Lake Maracaibo,

located in northeastern Venezuela, is known for heavy oil production.

"We’re building socialism here my friends, and this is serious," he said.

Its unclear at this point who runs the port, but Chavez insisted the

government would do a better job at revamping its operations.

Chavez also ordered the takeover of the Motatan sugar mill and the Cemento

Andino cement plant from its owners and vowed to pay a fair price for it.

His administration, he said, would build "true socialist" companies with the

sugar mill and cement plant assets.

Colombia’s largest cement company, Argos SA (ARGOS.BO), bought Cemento

Andino when it was privatized in 1998 but was recently heading off ownership

challenges in court.

Argos officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

As for Matan, Chavez said his government had given the owners a loan

contingent on a series of labour agreements that never took place.

The business owners "vowed to give workers a stake ... and to invest that

money for the benefit of the community but they haven’t done it," Chavez


Over the past year-and-a-half the Chavez administration has seized rural

land, urban properties, apartments and also the assets of failed and healthy

companies in what he calls Venezuela’s road to socialism.

Chavez is set to run for another six-year term in December’s presidential