CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the takeover of the local unit of U.S. glass bottle firm Owens-Illinois Monday, part of a drive to nationalize large swathes of the food processing and distribution business.
Since an election last month that left the socialist leader's party with a reduced majority in parliament, he has nationalized a large fertilizer factory, a motor lubricants firm and a huge swathe of land belonging to a wealthy British family.
"Expropriate it ... a company of North American capital that has been here for years exploiting the workers, destroying the environment," he said of Owens-Illinois on a late night TV appearance a few hours after returning from a tour of friendly nations such as Russia and Iran.
During nearly 12 years in office, Chavez has gradually nationalized more and more of the economy in a bid to relieve poverty. Critics say his successes at reducing the number of poor families stem from high oil prices, not his socialist policies.
Owens Illinois was founded in 1903 and now makes bottles and jars in Asia, Europe and the Americas. The government usually offers compensation for property put into state hands.
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