El Carabobeño, an 81 year-old newspaper serving the citizens of Carabobo state, will cease to circulate next Thursday, June 25. Carolina Gonzalez, the newspaper’s head, made the announcement earlier today.
The paper needs 44 reels of newsprint to operate for one week. In April, the publication announced that it was running low on paper, because the last shipment they had received – 72 reels on March 18 – was rapidly running out. Now that the newspaper is out of newsprint, and with no hope of receiving a new shipment in time, it is being forced to close.
During the press conference, Gonzalez suggested that the newspaper was being “made to pay for being a forum for criticism”, suggesting that the government had a hand in ensuring that paper deliveries to the publication were unreliable. Gonzalez said:
The scheduling for sending paper to El Carabobeño never took place.
In Venezuela, virtually every industry must apply to a government agency to exchange Bolivares into U.S. dollars for imports. As a newspaper that is generally critical of the government, El Carabobeño was simply not able to count on the bureaucracy being on its side when it came to acquiring both U.S. dollars and imported newsprint.
Brazilian Gov’t Shocked by Senators’ Welcome
The Brazilian government was left reeling yesterday after an official delegation of eight senators was harassed by pro-government protesters and prevented from carrying out its diplomatic mission in Venezuela yesterday.
Today, the Venezuelan ambassador to Brazil, Maria Lourdes Urbaneja, was summoned to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Brasilia to discuss the event.
Shortly after the convoy the senators were travelling on was stopped by angry PSUV supporters who demanded that they leave the country, Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff called an emergency meeting with Mauro Vieira, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting resulted in an release by the Ministry calling the events an “unacceptable act of hostility”, and that the Brazilian government would demand a formal explanation from Caracas.
The head of the Brazilian senate, Renan Calheiros, had harsher words to describe the event:
True democracies do not allow themselves to exist alongside uncivilized and medieval protests. These should be combated energetically to make sure they don’t happen again.
Upon his return to Brazil yesterday afternoon, one of the senators – Ricardo Ferraco – had the following to say about his trip to Venezuela:
We are scared by the authoritativeness and rudeness with which we were received. Best wishes to all Venezuelans; have faith and resist, for democracy will return soon.
Polar Warns of Imminent Shutdown
Betty Crespo, a high-level executive with Polar, warned today that production of certain items could shut down within weeks due to a dwindling level of raw materials.
Polar is the largest and most well-known Venezuelan food producer.
Crespo said that her company would no longer be able to produce mayonnaise in just a few weeks unless the government took direct action to allow it to import the materials it needs.
David Fagundez, an executive in the company’s brewery department, also warned that Polar would be unable to produce beer as early as August. Fagundez explained:
We only have [enough material] to be able to produce beer and malta until late July.
Fagundez said that the company’s suppliers have yet to receive the U.S. dollars they need to import raw materials, pointing to the government as the cause for the crisis. Fagundez then said:
We’ve submitted several letters and request [to the government] but we haven’t received any answer. We have suppliers who are owed money [as far back as] 400 days, more than a year. Which supplier can guarantee us raw materials when we, the debtors, don’t pay them? The industry’s debt is nearing $217 million. We work with Bolivares: it’s up to the government to liquidate dollars.
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