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Cablegate: Chavez Threatens to Expropriate Large Food

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DE RUEHCV #0152 0382042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 072042Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0566
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7670
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB LIMA 0946
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2759
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS CARACAS 000152

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT PASS TO AGRICULTURE ELECTRONICALLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON PGOV VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ THREATENS TO EXPROPRIATE LARGE FOOD
DISTRIBUTORS

REF: CARACAS 102

1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified, Please
Treat Accordingly.

2. (SBU) During a February 4 speech celebrating the 16th
anniversary of his attempted 1992 coup (Septel), Chavez
threatened to expropriate large food distributors and
producers. Chavez said, "I have ordered Mr. Vice-President
Colonel Ramon Carrizales and my government to go on the
offensive. It's not enough to close one store, and even less
fair to close small businesses; no, we are going after the
big ones. We are going to keep an eye on the big ones, that
is where capitalism is at its fiercest, and the owners of
these large chains are members of the rancid anti-Bolivarian
oligarchy." Chavez added, "I hope they (the large food
distributors and producers) give me the excuse to intervene
and expropriate them, so I can put those food and medicine
chains at the service of the Venezuelan people, and not the
oligarchy."

3. (SBU) Comment: Chavez' most recent expropriation threats
appear to be aimed at Polar, Venezuela's largest food
processing company. During the period of January 21 - 23,
the Venezuelan National Guard seized more than 500 tons of
food produced by Polar, claiming that the food was being
smuggled illegally to Colombia or "hoarded." (Reftel).
According to Polar representatives, the confiscated trucks,
traveling along their normal routes, were carrying finished
goods for Venezuela's western states. End Comment.

DUDDY

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