( AP ) - President Hugo Chavez has ordered the nationalization of Venezuela's cement industry, saying his government cannot allow businesses to export raw materials needed to tackle a national housing shortage.
Chavez said cement companies will be paid fair compensation for the forthcoming state takeover, which in his comments Thursday he called "a strategic industry."
Most of the cement market in this South American country, which has suffered from a severe housing shortage for years, is supplied by foreign companies.
Mexico's Cemex cement company controls almost half the market. Most of the remaining market is controlled by France's Lafarge and Switzerland's Holcim Ltd.