Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Photograph by Spencer Platt — Getty Images
By Geoffrey Smith
December 2, 2015

Who’s responsible for runaway inflation, uncontrolled gang violence and the highest rate of kidnapping for ransom in the world?

The lackeys of global capitalism at Kraft Heinz (KHC), of course. At least that’s what Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro reckons. He’s now threatening to jail the company’s local managers for sabotaging the country’s economy by creating what he says are artificial shortages.

Speaking on his weekly program on national TV Tuesday, Maduro said he’s “had enough” of the “bourgeois parasites” at Heinz. He said state inspectors would descend on the company’s local headquarters Wednesday and investigate denunciations against the company by its own workforce, the Telesur TV website said, citing news agency EFE.

Maduro said he’d received information from workers at the company saying it had deliberately let two and a half tons of wheat flour expire rather than convert it into food products. The company said at the time the flour went bad because it couldn’t source the other raw materials needed to make the finished goods.

“I believe in the working class and I think that those workers are telling the truth,” Maduro said.

Venezuela has had no answer this year to the fallout from the collapse in oil prices, which account for over 95% of its exports. The International Monetary Fund expects inflation to reach nearly 160% (sic) this year, and gross domestic product to shrink by 10%. Although the country’s currency is pegged officially at 6.35 bolivars to the dollar, on the street, a dollar will buy over 900 bolivars, according to the website Dolartoday. Shortages of basic goods, including beer and toilet paper, have become widespread.

Nor is there any relief on the horizon. Ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries look as far as ever from agreeing output cuts to support oil prices when they meet in Vienna, Austria, on Friday. Crude oil futures have been stuck below $43 a barrel for the last two weeks, down some 60% from their levels in the middle of last year.

Against such a background, many suspect the President of seeking scapegoats among such foreign investors as are still present in the country.

 

 

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