Workers re-open Kellogg factory closed by company in crisis-hit Venezuela

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Workers re-open Kellogg factory closed by company in crisis-hit Venezuelaby Virginia Pietromarchi and Agencies  Venezuelan authorities said they handed a Kellogg Co plant to workers and reactivated production at the factory yesterday, a day after the US cereal producer pulled out of the crisis-hit country. Kellogg joined a host of other multinationals in exiting Venezuela and later confirmed President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government had taken over its manufacturing plant. On Wednesday, Aragua state Governor Marco Torres slammed Kellogg and guaranteed food production would continue. "With no notification, this US-based multinational decided to close its doors, leaving 570 workers hanging," said Mr Torres at the plant, in Maracay. "Yet, we're here – in less than 24 hours." Millions in Venezuela suffer food and medicine shortages amid hyperinflation. Mr Maduro blames Venezuela's crisis on an "economic war" that he says is being waged by Washington, greedy businessmen and coup-mongers.  He is expected to win Sunday's presidential election, described by the opposition as a sham – who also put the blame for the economic crisis squarely at Mr Maduro's door, citing corruption and mismanagement.  Clorox, Kimberly-Clark, General Mills , General Motors and Harvest Natural Resources are the most recent big names to pull out of Venezuela in the face of economic conditions. Opposition critics scoffed that the government would quickly plunder the Kellogg plant and ruin its business. Kellogg  hasn't given more detailed information on the difficulties it was facing, but companies have been struggling to find raw materials and cope with their production expenses in Venezuela, as the government does not allow companies to raise prices in order to cope with the country's hyperinflation problem.  “The current economic and social deterioration in the country has now prompted the company to discontinue operations," Kellogg said.  President Nicolas Maduro used a campaign rally to call the action " absolutely unconstitutional and illegal" and said the workers would take over so that “they can continue producing for the people." During a speech in the state of Carabobo on Tuesday, Mr Maduro also stated that he had already begun judicial proceedings against the firm's business leader. While the Texas-based company said it hoped to return to Venezuela in future, it also warned of legal action if its product is sold there in the meantime.  “Kellogg is not responsible for the unauthorised use of the commercial names and brands that are the property of the company and will exercise legal actions available as necessary," the company said. 



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