He's already at it again, twice! And both with agricultural connections: first, in response to a mention of Venezuela's Human rights violations and also to the accusation that the Venezuelan government doesn't do enough against drug-traffic, he tells Obama to "Váyase a lavar ese paltó" [Noticias 24] which - translated literally - this seemingly amusing phrase means "Go and wash this avocado" however it is Venezuelan slang and quite derogatory meaning, in one of the cleaner translations, "go to hell."
Secondly, no doubt boosted by the recent win in the referendum to allow him to stand again and/or indefinitely for President, and affected by last weeks surprise visit to Cuba Hugo Chavez is now making further moves to full state control. This isn't the first time he has stepped in to "ensure food supplies" and set price controls for basic foodstuffs but it is the first major move against a whole industry that has such direct ramifications for the population (the oil industry nationalisation, as important as far as the country is concerned, doesn't effect el pueblo daily): he told the National Guard to "take control of and intervene in all of these businesses that process rice in Venezuela," [WSJ] This is akin to the UK government taking direct control of all wheat and potato producers and processors...for those not acquainted with the rural world of agricultural, it's major; think how bad they were at running the telephones or railways.
The root of his ire seems to be Alimentos Polar, a company I know reasonably well and have visited on most of my latest trips to Venezuela; the reason for the 'attack' is that 90% of Polar's rice production is diverted to flavoured and value-added products thereby avoiding Chavez's federal regulated fixed price for "normal" white rice....oh those naughty capitalists....would they do that if they didn't have a market for their special products? Of course not but with very high inflation and percieved food shortages Chavez has to be seen to be hitting the big boys where it hurts; unfortunately I foresee it hurting the people who want to buy rice!