Friday, July 23, 2010

Venezuela as an example for South Africa

Remember the court jester that has visited Venezuela to learn about nationalization of minerals, mining and every thing under the sun?

He, when visiting Zimbabwe, defending Mugabe’s policy of land grabs, telling everybody that want to listen that South Africa should follow the same strategy.

Now back to that wonderful country Venezuela, where everybody, from the lowest to the highest, is sharing in the wealth of oil, and living a live that should be desired by everybody.

It is strange that South Africans do not take note of this, as it is apparent that it will become the future of South Africa.

Read the below for yourself and decide if that is what we want for South Africa.

Chávez threatens to take over Empresas Polar food producer

CARACAS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is gunning for Empresas Polar, the country's giant food and beer conglomerate. The company, owned by the Mendoza family, is an obstacle to the government's plans for state control of the food industry.

``You're very much mistaken if you think I won't dare nationalize Empresas Polar,'' the president warned company chairman Lorenzo Mendoza recently on live TV.

But the government has a problem: A state corporation charged with importing and distributing food allowed tens of thousands of tons to go to waste by allowing it to pile up in the ports. Many foods have disappeared from the shelves, meanwhile, and food prices have risen 24 percent in the first half of 2010.

Critics say the scandal of the rotting food, which came to light in May and has continued to grow, shows that to expropriate Polar, by far the biggest private food producer, would be to condemn Venezuelans to live under Cuban-style rationing.

``A large part of the country's food and agriculture industry would be dislocated,'' said Carlos Machado Allison, an agro industry expert at the IESA business school in Caracas. ``There would be terrible unemployment and many producers would have nowhere to place their products.''


Machado Allison points out that, despite proclaiming its commitment to ``food sovereignty,'' the Chávez government has promoted imports at the expense of local production. In the decade it has been in power, food imports have risen from $1.3 billion a year to $7.5 billion.

Once a rice exporter, for example, the country now imports hundreds of thousands of tons of rice a year.

The government, however, blames private farmers and food processors for shortages and inflation, accusing them of ``hoarding'' and ``speculation.''

Citing a business-led strike in 2002, aimed -- among other things -- at forcing Chávez to respect private property rights, it claims business leaders seek to topple the president by deliberately creating shortages. Chávez himself insists that Lorenzo Mendoza wants to be president.

Business organizations vehemently reject the charge.

``People are tired of confrontation,'' Noel Alvarez, chairman of the main employers' organization, Fedecámaras, said earlier this month. ``We want peace, problems solved, prosperity for the nation.''

Chávez, however, has declared economic war on Fedecámaras and the rest of the Venezuelan private sector, saying there can be ``no kind of pact or agreement with the parasitic bourgeoisie.''

For many in the private sector, including Empresas Polar, the war has been under way for some time. In keeping with a long-standing policy, the company declined a request to interview a spokesman. However, it has made its position clear in a series of press statements.

Claims of hoarding, it says, are unfounded.

``It is impossible that there could be hoarding, since every kilo of every product we produce is strictly supervised by government agencies throughout the production and distribution process,'' it said.

The government operates a system known as SICA, under which all basic foodstuffs require government permits to be moved from one part of the country to another. Nonetheless, state inspectors recently confiscated 114 tons of food from a Polar warehouse, claiming there was a discrepancy in the documentation.


The company regards this as part of a pattern of harassment. It says that between January 2008 and April this year, its installations were inspected more than 600 times. In February, Chávez ordered the expropriation of a Polar distribution depot in Barquisimeto, 175 miles west of Caracas, saying the site should be used for housing.

Trade Minister Richard Canan, who last month announced the state takeover of 18 small food companies, said any irregularities would be met with fines, seizure of merchandise, temporary occupation and, finally, expropriation.

Already, public prosecutors -- acting on the president's orders -- have begun an investigation into alleged hoarding by Polar, and Chávez has said that if the company, ``continues to hoard [food] we will have to take it over.''

More recently, however, the president has fallen silent on the issue of Polar. There is speculation that, with a vital legislative election due in September, he cannot afford to risk the disruption of food supplies. Some commentators suggest he needs above all to get the scandal of the rotting food off the front pages.

That is not much consolation, though, to Polar delivery drivers, who are frequently stopped by the police or national guard.

``When they see the Polar emblem on the side of the truck, they pull me over,'' said one driver who asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals.

``It happens every day,'' he said.

3 Opinion(s):

FishEagle said...

Slightly off topic, but what's up with Maradonna and his cosy relationship with Chavez? The twit was standing, smiling, next to Chavez when he cut ties with Columbia. Both are vile peaces of dog turd.

Anonymous said...

The middle class is under fierce attack in Venezuela, and leaving the country.

Tragic loss of talent, and just what's needed in SA, of course.


Anonymous said...

When I visited Venezuela, the first thing that struck me was the dire poverty. The shanty towns just seem to go on forever. It´s a disgusting hole that needs nooking.