Venezuela's federal government seized seaports and airstrips in at least four states on Saturday, a move critics say is meant to limit the powers of mayors and governors opposed to President Hugo Chavez.
The takeover, ordered by Venezuela's socialist president last weekend and approved by lawmakers, aims to bring the country's major transportation hubs under federal control this year.
Military troops were dispatched to ports in the three Venezuelan states governed by Chavez opponents: Zulia, Carabobo and Nueva Esparta. Chavez said the takeover of air and sea ports in the state of Anzoategui, which is governed by a Chavez ally, was also under way.
The socialist leader said his government will formulate a "strategic investment plan" to modernize the ports and to guarantee the jobs of thousands of workers in the facilities.