The continuing drought in Venezuela is forcing the nation’s biggest beer producer, Empresas Polar SA to shutter four of its distribution plants as reported by El Venezolano. Empresas Polar SA provides three-quarters of the beer purchased in Venezuela. A victim of the low reservoir levels at the nation’s hydro-electric power stations, the company is laying off 6500 employees, as a cost-cutting move. The plant cutbacks leave Venezuelan consumers with a seven-day beer inventory before supermarkets go empty.
Even though the population is faced with food and medicine shortages, as well as rolling blackouts for the next 40 days, a beer shortage is seen as a larger problem. David Osio, an economic expert commented, “This is bad that beer factories are paralyzed because they generate work. Scarcity hurts Venezuelans.”
As much as the drought has brought economic turmoil to the country, it has heightened tensions between the government and private sector. President Nicolás Maduro’s government and Empresas Polar SA are engaged in an economic and political tug of war. With Empresas Polar SA’s announcement of its plant closings, Maduro has threatened to seize its physical assets. President Nicolás Maduro issued a statement, citing the plant closings as a violation of the law and that “It’s a serious crime, very serious.”
With the Empresas Polar SA plant shutdowns, liquor stores, distributors, and shipping firms are starting to feel its effect. Venezuelan’s want their beer back.