Venezuela oc­cu­pies big­gest pri­vate firm ware­house

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY HAN­NAH DREIER AND JORGE RUEDA

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.

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