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Venezuela Maduro: State seizes supermarket chain

image copyrightReuters
image captionSales at the Dia a Dia supermarket chain were supervised by soldiers earlier this week.

The Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, has ordered the takeover of a private supermarket chain by the state food agency.

Speaking on television, he accused Dia a Dia of hoarding food during huge shortages in the country.

This week, soldiers and government workers were sent to branches of a large supermarket and pharmacy chain to supervise sales.

Venezuela's economy has been heavily affected by the drop in oil prices.

Analysts also say currency controls that restrict the availability of dollars for imports has played a key role in creating the scarcity of many items.

Directors and executives from both Dia a Dia and pharmacy chain Farmatodo were arrested on charges of destabilising the economy.

Speaking on television, President Maduro did not say that the takeover of the Dia a Dia chain would be permanent.

He said the chain "was waging war against the population" and the national food distribution agency would take over its running.

Mr Maduro has said many businessmen are conducting an "economic war", colluding with the political opposition to oust his government.

In late January, thousands of Venezuelans joined an opposition march in Caracas.

They voiced dissatisfaction with high inflation, crime and the shortage of many staple goods.

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