Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to take over factories that have stopped production and jail their owners. His statement came Saturday during a speech to supporters in the capital city of Caracas, after a decree granted him expanded powers to act to counter the country's deep economic crisis.
On Friday, Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency to fight foreign aggression, which he blamed for Venezuela's problems. The opposition Saturday slammed the state of emergency, vowing to push for a recall vote to eject him from power.
Maduro reportedly ordered "all actions to recover the production apparatus, which is being paralyzed by the bourgeoisie." He also added that businesspeople who "sabotage the country" by stopping production at their plants risk being "put in handcuffs."
Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela's economy has been severely hit by falling global oil prices. The country's economy shrinked by 5.7 percent last year and its official inflation rate is estimated to be crossing 180 percent, BBC reported.
Maduro's opponents have reportedly demanded that the National Electoral Council rule on the validity of nearly 1.8 million signatures that have been collected in favor of the referendum.
"If you obstruct the democratic way, we do not know what could happen in this country," opposition leader Henrique Capriles said at one rally, according to the Associated Press. "Venezuela is a bomb that could explode at any moment."
Maduro's ally Jorge Rodriguez vowed there would be no recall referendum.
"They got signatures from dead people, minors and undocumented foreigners," Rodriguez claimed.