The president of Polar Enterprises, Lorenzo Mendoza, published an open letter to Maduro today, and argued that despite Maduro’s repeated assertions, the private sector is “part of the solution” to Venezuela’s economic woes.

Below, my translation of the letter:

Caracas, April 30 2015


Mr. President, I was motivated to write this letter by the necessity to let you know that we are willing to share our views on the conditions leading to the scarcity of food and drinks, something which directly affects the quality of life of all Venezuelans.

Polar Enterprises is a Venezuelan corporation that has been reinvesting continuously in the country over the past 75 years, due to the confidence its shareholders have had over four generations. We began in Antimano [an area of Caracas] in 1941 with 50 workers, and since then we’ve created 30,000 productive jobs, [leading to] the well being of all Venezuelans. We’ve achieved this thanks to investment and honest work by each of our organization’s members, while offering products of excellent quality with which we’ve won the confidence and favour of Venezuelans.

We return that good-will to each of the communities in which our installations are found through the creation of dignified jobs with excellent pay and benefits. Moreover, since our creation, our statutes have established [a rule that says] that we would support our communities through a range of initiatives on a variety of topics, including health, education, community development, and sports, among others. This was something unheard of at the time, and a compromise to which we’ve maintained ourselves fully committed to throughout the years.

One of the key aspects of the way we operate is that, on top of being able to count on high-tech factories and the best human talent, we have had available to us a number of commercial systems that allow us to distribute our products directly to more than 189,000 clients throughout Venezuela.

This great effort that we’ve undertaken since our inception is today made possible by our workers in 140 different agencies and offices .We are proud of our work, because it allows us to serve from the biggest clients to the smallest corner stores, in large cities and small towns alike. This is a labour by Venezuelans for Venezuelans, supported by the three pillars of our company philosophy: investment, work and commitment to Venezuela.

All of this shows that we are part of the solution, and our commitment is to continue to contribute in any way possible so that every Venezuelan may have the products they need in a convenient and affordable manner. This is is our company exists: to invest, create jobs, produce, distribute, establish win-win relationships and generate the well-being of everyone involved in this chain of values.

We believe in the importance of stimulating national production, of giving value to the label “Made in Venezuela”, which is why the vast majority of our resources are invested in the country. In 2014 alone, our investment in the country reached Bs, 7.2 billion.

As a result of this, in the last two years, we’ve opened a number of factories, including pasteurized yogurt, cereal, cachapa [a staple Venezuelan food] mix, powered tea and gelatin, which has created jobs. Moreover, we’ve increased our capacity to produce Harina P.A.N. to 43 million kilos per month in our Chivacoa plant, as well as an increase to 2.5 million kilos per month at our margarine plant in Valencia.

Mr. President, the last time we met was two years ago. In 2014, I received an invitation to participate in the Peace Conference. I was there to offer my contribution in whatever was needed to unite the efforts of the public and private sectors, as well as to present 12 economic proposals that we believe require priority attention.

We firmly believe that the best way to offer solutions to the people when it comes to the issue of scarcity is through cooperation between the state and the private sector.

We are all Venezuelan, and we are all interested in the same thing: that the country move forward and her people prosper. The best thing that can happen to us Venezuelans is that we all do well, and the only way we can achieve this is by working together for our country.

Maduro has grown increasingly hostile towards the private sector, going as far as to name them as being solely responsible for “the economic war” again Venezuela. On April 22, Maduro said that the private sector was “responsible for the scarcity”, and accused the country’s business people of “robbing the country”.

GM: Polar as Nothing to Hide

In an attempt to reject the government’s assertion that the country’s private industry producers are sabotaging the economy, the general manager of Polar’s food division, Ramon Castillo, told Union Radio that the company operates in a totally transparent manner:

Our [web] page has public reports that contribute to making our company’s activities even more transparent. For more than seven years, Empresas y Alimentos Polar has published all of its inventory information. Before the eyes of the nation, we are a totally transparent corporation.

Castillo explained that the company has 37,912 clients throughout the country, including private and public supermarkets.

Maduro on His Way to Cuba

Maduro announced today that he would travel to Cuba today to celebrate International Worker’s Day. In a televised address, Maduro said:

I’ve been invited [to attend the celebrations] first thing in the morning, at 6:00 AM, to the march of the fighting people of Cuba. The Cuban revolution has called for (…) marches tomorrows in solidarity, support and respect for the Bolivarian and chavista revolution of Venezuela.

Maduro also said that he would be back in Caracas before the end of the day to make some announcements:

At around noon tomorrow, I’m going to make a series of announcements to defend employment, work stability, to defend salaries, pensioners [along with] a lot of other announcements. May 1 will be a socialist, anti-imperialist and profoundly chavista day.

HRW Director Blames Maduro Gov’t for Medical Scarcity Crisis

Diedrerik Lohman, an associate health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch, published a piece on The Washington Post published yesterday in which it blamed the Maduro government not only for the scarcity of goods – specially medicine – but also for attempting to divert blame from itself. Lohman wrote:

The Venezuelan government routinely attempts to divert attention from crises by putting forward conspiracy theories or finding scapegoats.

Lohman argues that since Venezuela does not have a well-developed pharmaceutical industry, it relies almost exclusively on imports. Strict currency exchange controls are “interfering” with the import process, Lohman claims, leading to the current situation, in which:

… hospitals and pharmacies routinely run out of the basics, making it increasingly difficult for doctors to do their job.

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