President Nicolas Maduro handed Kellogg's production plant to the "workers" after the cereal giant shut operations. Kellogg joins several multinationals exiting the country due to a crippling economic crisis.
US-based cereal maker Kellogg ceased operations in Venezuela on Tuesday, prompting Venezuela's government to seize control of the manufacturing plant.
Socialist President Nicolas Maduro said the US multinational's factory in the western city of Maracay had been "handed over to the workers" after Kellogg announced it was ending operations in the South American country.
In a statement, Kellogg said that it was forced to shut operations of its subsidiary due to Venezuela's economic crisis.
"The current economic and social deterioration in the country has now prompted the company to discontinue operations," the company said.
Some 300 workers employed at the plant showed up to work to find a notice informing them of the closure.
Kellogg joins a string of other multinationals that have ceased or curtailed operations in the oil-rich country amid hyperinflation, shortages and state-imposed price controls. They include Bridgestone, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Colgate, Kimberly-Clark, General Mills, General Motors and Harvest Natural Resources.
Maduro blames 'imperialists'
Maduro, who is seeking re-election for a second term on Sunday, railed against Kellogg at a campaign rally.
"Why are they doing it today? Because we are four days away from elections and they think it will spook the people," Maduro told supporters. "Imperialists! Oligarchs! Nobody can scare our people."
The Socialist president regularly blames the United States, coup-plotters and businesses for conducting "economic war" against the country critics say he has driven into crippling poverty and hunger.
Maduro said the factory would now be "producing with the industrial working class."
The government has seized the operations of other multinationals that have left the country.
In 2014, the government took over two plants belonging to cleaning products producer Clorox.
"It means, Corn Flakes is over," opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra tweeted about Kellogg. "It reminds me of the Clorox case. It was paralyzed due to lack of raw materials, the government took it and today it is paralyzed."
Kellogg warned against the unauthorized production and sale of its products, threatening legal action if necessary. The company also voiced its desire to return to Venezuela in the future. Kellogg's breakfast products are the most popular and widely available in the country.
Kellogg's employed 400 workers at its Maracay factory in Central Venezuela.
cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)