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The company has been producing cereal in Venezuela since 1961 and the market had at one point been its biggest in Latin America after Mexico although in 2016 it deconsolidated its Venezuela business from the company's overall earnings results.

"No Kellogg products or brands should be commercialized in the country without the expressed authorization of the Kellogg Company", Kellogg said in its statement, adding it would like to return to Venezuela in the future.

President Nicolas Maduro handed Kellogg's production plant to the "workers" after the cereal giant shut operations.

Kellogg confirmed later on Tuesday that its manufacturing plant had been seized by the leftist government, the latest company to jump ship amid Venezuela's tough business climate.

Dozens of employees milled around the entrance to the factory in the western city of Maracay after turning up to find a notice informing them of the closure. Others, including Clorox (CLX.N), Kimberly-Clark (KMB.N), General Mills (GIS.N), General Motors (GM.N) and Harvest Natural Resources HNR.N, have given up on the OPEC country, abandoning assets or selling them cheap.

Oliver illustrates how the country has been led astray by its leadership, from the shortsighted government of the late Hugo Chávez to the outright corruption and catastrophic food shortages seen under Chávez's hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro, an aspiring authoritarian who would rather obfuscate the truth, play the blame game, or outright change his government's rules to protect his power than fix Venezuela's problems.

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"Why are they doing it today?"

Omar Rodriguez, who has spent 26 years working at Kellogg's, said he doesn't know how he'll feed his three children without his job.

"Over the last few years it seems like every time Venezuela has been on the news it's because something very bad has been happening", Oliver said. In 2014, authorities took over two plants belonging to USA cleaning products maker Clorox Co after its departure.

"This reminds me of the Clorox case", opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra tweeted about Kellogg. Kellogg's breakfast products are the most popular and widely available in the country.

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism.


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