UPDATE 2-Venezuela troops occupy Polar food distribution warehouses

Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:16pm EDT
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(Adds details of further companies impacted)

By Girish Gupta

CARACAS, July 30 (Reuters) - Venezuelan troops occupied a Caracas warehouse complex used by local food giant Empresas Polar and Nestle to distribute food and beverages, workers and company officials said on Thursday.

The move follows months of accusations by President Nicolas Maduro that Polar, the country's largest private employer, is working to sabotage the economy. The company denies this.

Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez expropriated several warehouses from Polar, in some cases arguing that the space should be used to build houses for the poor.

Around 50 workers protested inside the complex, including atop a water tower, with contractors joining them in solidarity outside in a poor neighborhood in the west of Caracas.

"If we don't work, we don't eat," said truck driver Carlos Munoz, a 43-year-old contractor for Polar. He transports food and drink from the site to shops and distributors.

"There's no food in Venezuela and now they do this! How are people going to eat?"

Workers said dozens of national guard and police took over the building on Wednesday evening. National Guard troops remained within the complex. Graffiti on its walls read, "No to expropriation."   Continued...