'We must take all measures to recover productive capacity, which is being paralyzed by the bourgeoisie,' Maduro says addressing his supporters
A day after declaring a state of emergency, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro threatened to seize factories which he says are paralyzed by the bourgeoisie as opposition leaders slammed his decree.
Maduro also ordered military exercises to "prepare for any scenario," to fight what he called "foreign aggression" which he blamed for an economic crisis that has pushed the country to the brink of collapse.
The embattled South American president is struggling to contain a paralyzing recession that has led to food shortages, soaring prices, riots, looting and vigilante justice.
An elected socialist, Maduro accused the United States on Friday of destabilising the country at the behest of the "fascist Venezuelan right," prompting him to declare a state of emergency.
Addressing his supporters in Caracas Saturday, Maduro detailed the extent of the new decree.
"We must take all measures to recover productive capacity, which is being paralyzed by the bourgeoisie," he said.
"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 move comes after the largest food and beverage company in Venezuela, the Polar Group, halted production of beer, saying government mismanagement meant it was no longer able to import barley for production.
Polar's four breweries supply 80 percent of the domestic beer consumed in Venezuela.
The company's owner, billionaire businessman Lorenzo Mendoza, is a vocal opponent of Maduro, and the president has accused him of being part of an "economic war" on his government along with US business interests.
‘A desperate president'
"We're talking about a desperate president who is putting himself on the margin of legality and constitutionality," said Democratic Unity coalition leader Jesus Torrealba, adding Maduro was losing support within his own bloc.
"If this state of
"Emergency is issued without consulting the National Assembly, we would technically be talking about a self-coup," he told hundreds of supporters who waved Venezuelan flags and chanted "he's going to fall."
During the protest, opposition leaders say the move to declare emergency shows Maduro is panicking as a push for a recall referendum against him gains traction with tired, frustrated Venezuelans.
Opposition leaders have launched the process by collecting 1.8 million signatures in favour of a recall vote, but say authorities are now stalling.