Venezuela occupies biggest private firm warehouse
Venezuela’s largest food distributor on Thursday denounced the government occupation of a Caracas warehouse amid accusations that the company is hoarding goods.
Soldiers took over the warehouse complex used by Empresas Polar late Wednesday just as Venezuela’s federation of brewers announced that Polar’s beer manufacturing subsidiary is shutting two of its six plants because of a lack of imported barley.
The South American
oil- ex- porting nation is grappling with chronic shortages of all kinds of staples from sugar to toilet paper, which businesses blame on the socialist government’s economic policies.
President Nicolas Maduro has accused Polar of sabotaging the economy by hoarding goods and intentionally creating shortages, a charge the company denies. As December congressional elections approach, Maduro has been levying frequent attacks on sectors that he claims are staging an economic war against Venezuelans.
Workers said the takeover was intended to provide land for new houses, another resource that has become scarce in Caracas in recent years, pushing people to live in shacks in the hills outside the city.
Polar executive Manuel Felipe Larrazabal asked the administration to reconsider the occupation, saying it had already paralyzed the company’s supply chain in the capital.
Some of the 650 employees that Polar said work at the warehouse protested against the seizure as armed police looked on. Government supporters staged a counter- demonstration outside the complex. By nightfall, the crowds had mostly gone home.