Venezuela's Maduro orders closed factories handed over to workers; Chavistas march in support of emergency measures

May 15, 2016
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses crowds in support of his emergency decrees to respond to an economic crisis.

Venezuela's socialist president Nicolas Maduro told a crowd of supporters on May 15 that to increase productivity and help alleviate scarcity of basic products facing the South American nation, all businesses and factories closed down by their owners would be seized and handed over to their workers so production could be restarted.

“A stopped factory [is] a factory turned over to the people,” Maduro said. “The moment to do it has come, I'm ready to do it to radicalise the Revolution.”

Maduro has accused factory owners of deliberately sabotaging production in order to hurt the country's revolutionary government.

The demonstration was organised in support of the “communal economy”. This is based on small and medium production projects supported and coordinated by the grassroots community councils and communes made up of elected delegates from these councils. These instances of grassroots and direct democracy are collectively known inside Venezuela as the “Communal Power.”

“I'm ready to hand over to the Communal Power any factory stopped by any rich person in this country,” said Maduro, a former bus driver and trade unionists elected in 2013 on a platform of continuing the pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution initiated by his predecessor, late president Hugo Chavez.

“Whoever doesn't want to work should leave and those who do are welcome, we will go united. This country needs all of its economic structure to be functioning.”

The president said he would approve the funding of seven large-scale projects of the Communal Power to kick start food production and distribution.

Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency on May 13, in part to address a shortage of food and medicine in the country. The decree gives the president greater discretion to use funds to address the severe shortages and drought that Venezuela faces.

The president said the decree has three main objectives: to boost domestic production; to strengthen the new system of food distribution direct to people's homes and to strengthen the social programs or “missions”.

The Venezuelan government is trying to steer food production and distribution directly into the people's hands through what are known as Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP).

Venezuelans have recent experience in handling the distribution of food. In 2002, in face of the paralysing oil production by a management strike, ordinary people took charge and ensured what oil was available was distributed.

[Reposted from TeleSUR English.]

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