New takeovers by Venezuela’s leader Chavez

A string of nationalisations in Venezuela in recent days show President Hugo Chavez is pushing ahead with takeovers that critics say are undermining an economy that is already the worst performing in South America.

Almost all the businesses expropriated during the 12-year rule of the leftist firebrand have struggled to maintain production levels – a prime example being the OPEC member’s troubled steelmaker Sidor.
Rejecting allegations that economic production has been hurt by its policies, the government says people are better off under Chavez.

In recent days, the president has ordered the takeover of a major fertiliser plant, a motor lubricants maker, more farmland and agricultural supplies company Agroislena.

Those nationalisations followed gains by the newly united opposition at legislative elections on 26 September, where they struck a symbolic blow to Chavez by winning 40 per cent of National Assembly seats.