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Venezuela to nationalize occupied supermarket accused of hoarding food amid shortages

People line up outside the Dia a Dia supermarket after it was taken over by the government in the Propatria neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The government is temporarily taking over the Dia a Dia supermarket chain as part of a crackdown on private businesses it blames for worsening shortages and long lines. Popular items with government fixed prices that have been running short are coffee, cooking oil, precooked corn flour, sugar, milk, toilet paper, disposable diapers, detergent and fabric softener, among other items. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

People line up outside the Dia a Dia supermarket after it was taken over by the government in the Propatria neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The government is temporarily taking over the Dia a Dia supermarket chain as part of a crackdown on private businesses it blames for worsening shortages and long lines. Popular items with government fixed prices that have been running short are coffee, cooking oil, precooked corn flour, sugar, milk, toilet paper, disposable diapers, detergent and fabric softener, among other items. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Friday announced that an occupied supermarket chain officials accuse of hoarding products will be folded into the state food distribution system.

Maduro said the 35 locations of the Dia a Dia grocery chain will be assimilated into the state grocery agency starting this weekend. He did not say if the change would be permanent, and stopped short of calling it an expropriation.

He accused the chain of "carrying out a war against the people," referring to the government's assertion that right-wing business owners are purposely making shopping a nightmare by hoarding goods to cause the shortages and long lineups that are plaguing Venezuela.

Soldiers had occupied the Dia a Dia chain earlier this week and on Friday the attorney general's office announced the continued detention of Dia a Dia's director.

Earlier, two executives of Venezuela's largest drugstore chain, Farmatodo, were detained as part of an investigation by price-control authorities.

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Many economists blame price and currency controls for causing the economic distortions plaguing Venezuela at a time when falling oil prices are battering its revenues.

The Caracas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services rejected government accusations that the private sector is the cause of the severe economic crisis, shortages and soaring inflation in Venezuela.

In a statement, it said the economic problems are the result of "an economic model, 21st century socialism, that with its controls and obstacles has devastated the country's private productive capacity."

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