The Venezuelan government also announced it has seized a factory of the U.S. company Kimberly Clark Corporation — producer of numerous personal, feminine, and baby care brands including Huggies, Kotex, and many others — and handed it over to the workers to continue manufacturing after the firm said it couldn’t produce.
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The move acts on a government pledge to take over foreign-owned facilities shuttered in the face of economic challenges in the country.
The factory takeover comes as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro launched a new program aimed at tackling shortages of food and medical supplies in the South American country, putting his defense chief in charge of the initiative with an emphasis on increasing production.
Titled the Great Sovereign and Safe Supply Mission, the project will focus on the food, pharmaceutical, and industrial sectors in Venezuela, under the oversight of the president and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, Maduro announced Monday evening.
The president reiterated his criticisms of an “economic war” and opposition campaign to “sabotage” the government as key causes beyond the problem of shortages. The Venezuelan leader said that while the shortages are real, these have also been exaggerated by the right-wing opposition and mainstream media to delegitimize the Maduro administration.
Maduro said he hopes that the new plan will help to “impose order and authority in all channels of the economy.”
The program will aim to develop more efficient local production as well as a new system to effectively distribute basic products to tackle some of the root problems of the crisis, which the government has repeatedly linked to the largely private control over supply chain from production to distribution.
In his announcement Monday night, Maduro said that 93 percent of distribution networks in the country are privately owned, which he claimed “is pulverizing” the system and among the root causes of the shortage problems.
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Maduro’s Supply Mission is a multi-pronged program including measure related to production, pricing, research and development, and logistics, among others. It includes strategies for direct monitoring over production and distribution of food, medicines, and other basic goods in the name of ensuring processes are carried out with transparency and according to the law.
In May, the Maduro government extended the country’s state of emergency for 60 days in the name of tackling the “economic warfare."