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The Fracas in Caracas
Venezuela Crisis’ Latest Victim: Beer

In Venezuela, you may now have a five-day weekend—but it will be harder and harder to find a drink during it. As Venezuela falls deeper into crisis, its largest brewery—responsible for 80% of the beer consumed in the country—is shutting its doors. Reuters reports:

Venezuela’s largest beer maker halted the last of its four production plants on Friday in a spat with the government over access to foreign currency, threatening a shortage in a nation already hit by severe scarcities of food and other products.

Empresas Polar, the largest private company in Venezuela, had warned it would end production on Friday because President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government was refusing to release it dollars to import malted barley under strict exchange controls.

Operations at Polar’s plant in San Joaquin, which had been its last still in production, were stopped on Friday morning, a company spokeswoman said. “With this, activities at the four plants of Polar Brewery are halted,” she added.[..]

Maduro’s government often accuses Polar of exaggerating its dollar needs and hoarding products as part of an “economic war” by the business community, politicians and the United States aimed at undermining socialism in Venezuela.

In response, the Venezuelan government showed its usual razor-sharp understanding of economics:

Officials have said Polar’s billionaire president, Lorenzo Mendoza, should spend his own offshore money if he needs dollars.

Earlier this week, in an obvious reference to Polar, Maduro threatened to seize any plants halted by private companies and hand them over to workers. “Any plant that is shut will be recovered, it is a serious crime against production,” he said.

In the days of fighting sail, one of the quickest ways to start a mutiny was supposedly to cut off the sailors’ grog (or to run out of it). Venezuelans have dealt with a lot of shortages, from toilet paper to water, in recent months. Now one of life’s small luxuries may be added to that list.

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  • Nevis07

    Start the countdown to the counter-revolution?

    • The Democrátic Unity cohalition has started a recall referendum, as allowed by the constitution. However, the regime controls security services and military, and counts with irregular paramilitary repression gangs, which are deployed using the same methods used by the Castro dictatorship. Obama’s approach towards Castro has encouraged the Maduro regime to assume a much more dictatorial stance. I think the chance of civil war is increased by the USA foreign policy towards Cuba, given that Maduro is a Castro agent.

    • Episteme

      No more beer? To the barricades!

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This is the end result of all Leftist Policies, no Beer, or anything else. The success of a nation is inversely proportional to the level of Leftist Policies vs. the Free Market.

  • dawnsblood

    “Crime against production” is a curious phrase. I expected something like “Crime against the people”. Somehow I don’t think turning the brewery over to the ‘people’ (more likely Maduro’s version of commissars) will magically cause foreigners to give them malted barley. Maybe Maria Gabriela Chavez can buy some for them with all the money she actually stole from the country.

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