Empresas Polar is Venezuela’s largest private company. Yesterday its president, Lorenzo Mendoza, was detained at the airport for four hours as he attempted to fly to Ecuador for a business conference. From Yahoo News:

“Polar denounces harassment of its president,” the company said, adding the detention was illegal. A Polar source said no official reason had been given for prohibiting Mendoza from boarding the company plane.

Tensions between Polar and the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro have been constant. Maduro frequently accuses Mendoza of intentionally slowing food production to create shortages and weaken his struggling government.

It’s not clear what the intent of preventing Mendoza from leaving the country was, but the move seems to have backfired from a PR perspective. Workers for Polar showed up at the airport and began chanting their support. When media showed up, Mendoza gave an impromptu press conference in which he once again criticized the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro for their “absurd persecution.” From Fusion:

[Mendoza] said his factories have been closed for six days due to the lack to primary materials in Venezuela.

“The Venezuelan state has paralyzed the national industry due to lack of primary materials,” he said, before getting into a full explanation of why the Venezuelan economy is failing.

About three weeks ago the opposition organized a general strike to protest President Maduro’s refusal to allow a democratic referendum which could remove him from office. The government threatened to expropriate (nationalize) any business which closed for the strike. The NY Times reported, “intelligence agents parked their trucks outside the home of Lorenzo Mendoza.”

A government which threatens and detains businessmen who don’t toe the socialist line is a government that has crossed the already thin line between socialism and dictatorship.

Here’s video of Mendoza’s impromptu anti-government press conference: