April 12, 2007 / 10:02 PM / 13 years ago

Venezuela says cement takeovers could be next

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during his TV broadcast "Alo Presidente" in the state of Barinas, March 25, 2007. Chavez on Thursday said his nationalization drive could be expanded to cement-makers if they were found to be worsening a housing shortfall by favoring exports over domestic sales. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday said his nationalization drive could be expanded to cement-makers if they were found to be worsening a housing shortfall by favoring exports over domestic sales.

Buoyed by a landslide reelection in December, Chavez has forged ahead with the construction a socialist republic, taking over sectors of the economy he calls strategic, such as power utilities, oil projects and the country’s No. 1 media company.

“We need to investigate the cement factories. I want reports ... because what is going on is that they still prefer to export at a higher price than issue supplies in the interest of the Venezuelan people,” the anti-U.S. leftist said in a speech.

“If the cement-makers do not want to, then very well, we will take them over,” he said in a speech recalling a 2002 coup attempt against him, adding that Venezuelan cement-makers had been privatized too cheaply “at the price of a scrawny hen.”

The move could affect Cemex Venezuela, subsidiary of Mexico’s Cemex. But the company has already collaborated with some of Chavez’s social projects.

Switzerland’s Holcim Ltd and France’s Lafarge also have cement operations in the Caribbean state.

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