Venezuela Re-Starts Guardian Glass Plant

August 10th, 2016 by Trey Barrineau

Screenshot of the Guardian de Venezuela website before the site went down.

Venezuelan officials on Wednesday officially “reopened” the Guardian Industries float glass plant that they seized by military force in late July.  In a Facebook post on Thursday morning, the government  said it would be a “temporary occupation, which will have a duration of one year,” with the goal of producing 350 tons of glass per day for export.

According to a report on Wednesday from El Abrelata, a resolution of “occupation” is now into effect at the facility, and operations have restarted. Labor Minister Osvaldo Vera accused the company of implementing a “boycott and sabotage,” adding that Guardian was “a business that, of which there is no doubt, operated at a fraudulent level, selling its products very cheaply abroad … it bought very little raw material here and basically defrauded the country.”

Top headline from a Venezuelan newspaper.

Top headline from a Venezuelan newspaper.

Yelitza Santaella, governor of the state of Monagas, claimed that 60 percent of the basic materials Guardian needed to manufacture glass was in the state’s mines, “but even that was abandoned.” She said Wednesday’s takeover would benefit the plant’s workers, as well as the nation.

Guardian didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment on today’s events, but the company’s initial statement about the plant seizure, released on August 1, rejects those allegations.

“Guardian has operated proudly in Venezuela for decades,” the statement reads. “We have been fully committed to ensuring the safety of our employees, and have acted in compliance with all applicable laws and with respect for the community. The safety of the employees and management of Guardian de Venezuela’s operations are now in the control of the Venezuelan government.”

Vera read directives from the government of President Nicolas Maduro, saying that the first order of business would be to occupy the facility, restart production and protect the nation’s labor process.

Another top headline from a Venezuelan newspaper.

Another top headline from a Venezuelan newspaper.

Since seizing the plant in late July, Venezuela’s government has told sympathetic media outlets there that Guardian closed the facility weeks ago as part of an “economic war” U.S. businesses are waging against the country, a catch-all claim that officials in Venezuela have been making for years. However, most analysts cite the collapse of global oil prices, combined with the country’s disastrous socialist economic policies, for causing drastic shortages of raw materials and skyrocketing inflation that the International Monetary Fund says could hit 1,640 percent by 2017, according to Business Insider.

To prevent a popular uprising, the government declared a state of emergency in mid-May and ordered the state seizure of factories that have closed because they can’t get raw materials. For example, Venezuela seized a Kimberly-Clark plant in July after the U.S. diaper maker shut down because of deteriorating economic conditions in the country.

This tweet translates as “Continue rolling by the precipice: Government occupies glass factory Guardian de Venezuela, S.A., in Maturin.”

This tweet reads: “ANOTHER THEFT OF THE REGIME!”

Additionally, information supplied by the Venezuelan media can be untrustworthy, because draconian laws force many news organizations to act as mouthpieces for the state.

“Venezuela’s president since 2013, Nicolás Maduro, does his utmost to silence independent media outlets,” according to Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 press freedom rankings, which puts the country 139th out of 180 in the world. “A law approved in 2010 provides for sanctions in the event of any content ‘calling the legitimately constituted authority into question.’ This has led to arbitrary arrests and defamation prosecutions.”

William Nicholson, a former foreign correspondent and bureau chief for The Associated Press in Latin America, translated sources cited in this story.

Gobierno nacional reinicia operaciones en la empresa Guardian de Venezuela en #Maturin

A photo posted by Gobierno de Monagas (@gobiernodemonagas) on

Gobierno nacional reinicia operaciones en la empresa Guardian de Venezuela en #Maturin

A photo posted by Gobierno de Monagas (@gobiernodemonagas) on

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