Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday officials will investigate whether the directors of U.S. food company Kraft Heinz are deliberately “sabotaging” the country’s economy.
“Tomorrow they are going first thing, and they will look into what’s happening at the Heinz company and if the directors are sabotaging (the economy),” Maduro said on his weekly television program, according to the EFE news agency.
The order came after three Heinz employees reportedly claimed the company’s factories are capable of operating at full capacity to meet the country’s shortage of certain food items—but that the owners do not want that to happen.
“I believe in the working class and I think that those workers are telling the truth,” said Maduro.
In November, Venezuelan authorities discovered 2,500 kilos of expired wheat flour at a Kraft Heinz factory. At the time, the company said the flour went bad because it lacked the raw materials necessary to convert the wheat into its food products.
The Venezuelan government, however, claims private corporations are deliberately hoarding food items to manufacture shortages ahead of parliamentary elections to be held Dec. 6.
IN DEPTH: Elections in Venezuela
Private companies that import essential items into Venezuela benefit from a favorable exchange rate that acts as a major government subsidy, allowing them to buy goods in U.S. dollars for a fraction of what it would cost the average Venezuelan consumer.
Rather than pass that subsidy on to the public, some firms have instead been caught hoarding imported goods in an attempt to not only create a political crisis, the government alleges, but also to benefit from a high rate of inflation that might allow the importer to reap more profit the longer they wait.
Smugglers have also been caught taking imported goods back out of Venezuela to sell abroad.
On Tuesday, Maduro struck a defiant tone in the face of what his administration claims is an economic war.
“The time has ended for these bourgeois parasites,” he said.
Kraft Heinz did not immediately respond to teleSUR’s request for comment.
WATCH: Venezuela Steps Up Action Against Hoarders