The Caged Polar Bear

Lorenzo Mendoza has been Maduro's punching bag for a while, but as Polar's final beer factory closes in San Joaquin, in Carabobo State, can Empresas Polar take the beating much longer?

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Ay Chigüire, ¿qué haríamos sin ti?

For the past 75 years, Empresas Polar has been a mainstay in Venezuelans’ daily lives. From the occasional birrita to the ever popular arepa, Polar is ubiquitous. But ever since the government identified Polar as a political and ideological adversary, it has slowly but surely weakened it to its current state.

From accusing it of being a main driver of the guerra económica to threatening to close down or take over factories just a few days ago, Maduro and his cronies have tried to trip up Polar’s operations by sending tax and health inspectors to its plants daily to find even the smallest smidge of a mistake or violation.

In reality, the government controls every aspect of Polar’s distribution in minute detail through SADA (Superintendencia Nacional de Silos, Depositos y Almacenes Agricolas); its hyper-regulatory agency for Food Distribution.

“Superintendency” makes it sound like an oversight body, but really it’s more than that: SADA allows the government to directly control what food goes where and when, throughtout Venezuela’s territory, in real time.

For example, if there is a shortage of Harina Pan in Santa Fe and let’s say Polar would like to dispatch a certain amount to a local supermarket, it has to go through SADA’s famously detailed forms to register the exact route, quantity, times, everything. 

The concern is that government is now going in for the kill. The emblematic company has been put in a stranglehold where it’s neither allowed to import raw materials to produce food nor does it get access  to the foreign exchange it needs to operate as they normally would. Cherry on top, Polar’s executives have accused the government of assigning these dollars to Polar’s main competitors. For empirical evidence, just look at the difference between the street supply of Regional and Polar beer .

The move destroys Polar’s ability to operate at any level. Out of four major breweries, three had already shut down: Los Cortijos in Caracas, Planta Oriente in Anzoaregui and Modelo in Maracaibo.

Today, the final blow: San Joaquin, in Carabobo State was shut down, leaving some 10,000 employees out of a job, and putting in jeopardy 250,000 more jobs that indirectly depend on the plant. 

And that’s just from breweries…

The question now is whether the government is so enthralled with destroying Lorenzo Mendoza and his company that it’s ready to take the inevitable political blow that  adding to supply problems will imply in today’s powder keg of a country.

It’s not just food and electricity that are in short supply these days, but of basic good judgment and the ability to govern a country and make constructive decisions to bring it back from the abyss.

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. Please delete the “Pumba” non-sequiturs. Thanks.

    I suppose that it is possible that the regime thinks that they can simply expropriate the idled plants and immediately start making Boli-beer or whatever they want to call it. That would be a false assumption, though maybe they believe it.

    But, in truth, I don’t think they are even that rational any longer. I think that the truth is that they hate and loathe Lorenzo Mendoza and his example of excellence more than they love power or even their own lives. The very existence of Lorenzo Mendoza and Polar Industries serves as a constant reminder of their failures and personal mediocrity. They will destroy Polar even at the cost of destroying the country and even their own lives, because they cannot tolerate living in a world where someone is better than them.

    I used to think that Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” was a massively exaggerated metaphor. I was wrong, and we are seeing it played out in real life. For the regime, Lorenzo Mendoza is their Henry Reardon.

    • Well, Chavez took (nationalized) my in-laws concrete/cement business and did nothing with it other than to shut it down, killing 400+ livelihoods in the process.
      You are correct. They hate success more than they do anything else.
      Rand was right. While I might love what I do, I won’t be forced into doing it.

  2. Polar owners have prepared for this scenario for a long time now, lots of assets are now abroad , all kind of businesses humming full throtle elsewhere , the Regime thinks that this is terrible for Polar Owners , its actually the worst thing for us ordinary Venezuelans and for the regime itself , Maduro is full of spite against Polar managers who exceed him in popularity !!

  3. The blind hatred of chavistas for Polar will only speed up their own suicide.

    Cisneros has been really skillful to navigate the roiling waters of this storm, manipulating chavismo into eliminating his competitors (First it was RCTV, now it’s Polar), the thing is, that Cisneros doesn’t own food factories that we know, so he’s shortsighted in respect to that, people in Venezuela might like beer, but they NEED food to survive, even if it’s a diet based on just arepas + margarine.

    And even now, there are still chavistas whose minds are basically corroded by their own propaganda, which believe Polar holds a monopoly on food distribution, yet they willingly choose to ignore that chavista regime has all the other food-packing plants and has managed millions of times the number of assets and money that Polar ever had access to.

  4. A country without beer. Hokey smokes….
    When God closes a door He opens a window. This hiccup will only precipitate the collapse sooner than later.

    • Not exactly without beer.

      It’ll be a country with even less food, because Polar getting seized will only mean even more scarcity.

      The only “winner” in this situation is the bastard Cisneros, who owns the Regional, and the guy that’s been playing the chavista regime into making the biggest monopolies for him, first for communications (shutting down RCTV) and now for beer (Shuting down Polar)

  5. Quico, por qué polar no desvía los dolares de la coca cola, el raqueti, toda esa vaina, a los dolares de la harina pan qué son de primera necesidad? Qué cuesta hacerlo? Y así se produce más harina pan y todos estaríamos mejor

  6. It is not only the beer side of the business, beer keeps afloat the food side, which loses money with regulated prices: harina pan, mazeite, mavesa…. No beer = no harina pan

  7. Raqueti was made my Jacks (Industrias Anita in Charallave) not sure if they were bought by Industrias Polar …

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