Venezuelan president issues TV threat

  • 15/05/2016
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has warned authorities will seize any factories which stop production, and throw their owners in jail.

Pro and anti-government demonstrators took to the streets earlier on Saturday (local time), as the economic crisis grips the country, and food, fuel and medical supplies have been rationed since January.

The opposition has gathered 1.8 million signatures on a petition to force a recall referendum, which could oust Maduro.

But election authorities on Friday declined to verify the petition, the next required step in the process.

Government supporters gathered in the capital's Diego Ibarra square, where they were addressed by the president.

Maduro said the complaint by factory managers that they were lacking the hard currency for raw materials was "whingeing" and their threat to close was a declaration of "economic war".

Any factories which stopped working would be "occupied by the people", Maduro said in a televised speech.

"We will do it. We will take over all the plants paralysed by the bourgeoisie," he said.

"Any who does not wish to work, let him leave."

Maduro on Friday extended the economic state of emergency in the South American country by 60 days.