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Venezuela's president says owners of idle factories risk jail time

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to jail factory owners who halt production, after declaring a 60-day state of emergency.

Nicolas Maduro denounces 'bourgeoisie' business owners after declaring 60-day state of emergency

People gathered in Caracas on Saturday to demand that electoral officials accerlerate the certification of the petition signatures that would kick off a recall of President Nicolas Maduro. (Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to jail factory owners who halt production, after declaring a 60-day state of emergency.

The decree expanding his power came Friday night and were followed by protests by opponents in the capital, Caracas on Saturday.

They're calling for a referendum on recalling the president, as the country faces food shortages and factory shutdowns.

Women chant against the government of President Nicolas Maduro during a march in Caracas on Saturday. (Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press)

Maduro said Washington is plotting to fuel instability in the country and topple his government, but did he not provide details.

On Saturday, he threatened to take over idle factories and jail their owners following a decree granting him expanded powers to act in the face of a deepening economic crisis.

Maduro said factory owners were going to "sabotage" the country by shutting down and he ordered "all actions to recover the production apparatus, which is being paralyzed by the bourgeoisie."

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to seize factories that are no longer in production. He accused the owners of sabotage and said they should be jailed. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Venezuela used to be one of the world's biggest oil producers, but as oil prices crashed, so has the economy as the country takes in fewer petro-dollars to buy consumer goods.

For months, people have been lining up for hours, for even the basics, like food and medicine.

There are also acute shortages of water and electricity, along with rampant inflation and daily, government-ordered power outages.

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      Last month, the shortages led to looting of shops in the western city of Maracaibo, where police and military personnel arrested about 100 people.

      At the same time, the country's largest food and beverage distributor, Empresas Polar, shut down its last operating beer plant. It said it has been unable to access hard currency to buy raw materials.

      Opposition leader Henrique Capriles led a protest in Caracas on Saturday, where demonstrators demanded that electoral officials accelerate the certification of the petition signatures that would kick off a recall of the president.

      With files from The Associated Press