Photo: Correo del Orinoco retrieved 

“I live near the Pavia sector in Western Barquisimeto. I have three kids, two grandkids and two daughters-in-law at home, with my wife and me. None of us have a steady job, we haven’t been getting food boxes for months and we can’t afford the food basket. We learned that traveling to Cucuta (Colombia) we can make ends meet, so we go there every month to sell hammocks and bring food and medicine.”

That’s the story of 56-year-old Carlos Sánchez, former Sidetur worker, who also says that 50% of the companies expropriated in Lara, one of the main industrial regions in Venezuela, have shut down.

On November 3rd, 2010, Hugo Chávez  expropriated Sidetur, a branch of SIVENSA, a pioneer company in the Venezuelan steel sector.

On November 3rd, 2010, Hugo Chávez  expropriated Sidetur, a branch of SIVENSA, a pioneer company in the Venezuelan steel sector. Allegedly, the firm sold its products with overprice. The following day, military forces took over three of the company’s seven plants. Sidetur was then renamed National Steel Complex (CSN). It’d never be the same.

In Barquisimeto, it had two huge factories; one of them, Planta Barquisimeto, was a steel mill with two electric arc furnaces capable of melting metallic junk later turned into billet or iron ingots for rebars, angles, platens and other products for civil works. This plant has been inoperative since September 15th, 2018, when it produced 18,200 tons, 7.5% of its installed capacity of 250,000 tons a year.

Sidetur also created Planta Lara, a large lamination facility with an installed capacity of 120,000 tons a year. It’s been inoperative since 2017. In 2018, the workers forced its reactivation, but they hardly kept it going for two weeks.

Both plants had over 720 workers. In December, 2018, management sent them on an unpaid leave without prior notice and no right to complain. Many of them simply abandoned their posts.

Sidetur established seven plants in various states in the country, all of them are inoperative for lack of supplies. Planta Casima, in Puerto Ordaz, had a steel mill with electric arc furnaces; it was shut down three years ago. Alejandro Álvarez, general secretary of the Planta Casima union, confirmed that the company remains closed to this day and that “the alleged activation plan announced by the Maduro regime was a sham, there are no supplies for that.”

The same thing happens in the plants in Barquisimeto, Valencia, Guarenas and Caracas. Álvarez said that the plants’ shutdown has caused gradual millionaire losses. “Chávez expropriated the company in 2010, and it was already a mess. By 2015, it only had 15% production, and it dropped to 13% in 2016 and 9% in 2017. Starting in 2015, not a drop of steel is being produced.”

Only Planta Valencia in Carabobo remains operational, but only partially, because raw materials depend on SIDOR.

What happened with production plans promised after expropriations? How could the Maduro regime solve this mess?

Where are the products of the expropriated companies?

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