San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Venezuelan President Threatened to Close Plant

Some 400 workers were able to breathe easier in March after a scare the previous month in which Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez threatened to close a Venezuelan state-run aluminum plant in Costa Rica that employs much of the Pacific-slope port town Esparza.

Chávez’s plans to close the plant further froze already icy diplomatic relations between Costa Rica and Venezuela.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias had criticized Chávez for his populist leadership after he achieved the power to legislate by decree, and Chávez shot back saying that Arias should mind his own business.

The two leaders went back and forth exchanging harsh words about each other, but despite the shaky relations, the plant closure was called off and massive layoffs were avoided.


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