Venezuela Governor Seizes Heinz Plant
AP 09.05.2005, 03:08 PM
A state governor has ordered troops to seize an abandoned tomato processing plant owned by U.S. food company H.J. Heinz Co. in Venezuela, a state official said Monday.
The plant in the eastern state of Monagas still belongs to Heinz but hasn't been used for years, said Angelica Rivero, a spokeswoman for the state governor. "The governor decided to seize the plant so it can be protected from looters and later be put to use," Rivero said.
Monagas Gov. Jose Gregorio Briceno, a close ally of President Hugo Chavez, told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency the plant changed hands several times under previous governments before Heinz purchased it in 1997, and later ceased operations.
"At that time I was mayor of that town and I felt impotent, my hands tied, as 30 million kilos (66 million pounds) of tomatoes - almost 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) - were produced, and the closing of the business led the farm workers to go broke," Briceno told ABN.