The Koma hypermarket in Puerto Ordaz was taken over by the Chavernment in 2010, as part of the expropiation of Frigorificos Ordaz S.A. (Friosa). Almost a year later, a video posted on YouTube showed the reality of Koma.
Later still, a group of workers made public that they were fired because of comments they made on Twitter about the lack of supplies in the store, and for taking pictures of empty shelves.
Even if the State continues to bring massive amounts of imported food into Puerto Cabello, many shelves in Venezuelan supermarkets remain bare. CAVIDEA, the national food industry association has indicated that food shortages have intensified in the last five years. The Chavernment insists that the current situation is quite the opposite.
In his current presidential period, the comandante presidente has established three major public store chains: Mercal, Pdval and the Bicentenario Hypermarkets. The latter was brought into the public spotlight recently as Chavez himself opened a new one in Caracas.
The Bicentenario chain wasn’t built from scratch like Mercal or Pdval, but consisted of taking over two private supermarket chains: Cada and Exito (once owned by the French Casino Group). A second French company, Carrefour is involved as minority partner. The stores don’t just sell groceries, but also offer subsidized electric appliances at low prices, as part of another program: Mi casa bien equipada.
As the latest Bicentenario opening was inmediately used as PR material, reality found a way to knock down the image presented by the TV ad: workers staged a protest near the Presidential Palace to complain about the lack of a collective bargaining agreement for six years and problems procuring products and the conditions of the store.
None of that is new, according to this article in Aporrea.