guardinaplant
The Guardian glass plant in Maturin, Venezuela.

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 Wednesday report from El Abrelata, a resolution of “occupation” and the restart of operations at the facility is now into effect. 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.”

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, disputes those allegations.

“Guardian has operated proudly in Venezuela for decades,” the statement read. “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.


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 as well as 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 the Kimberly Clark plant in July after the U.S. diaper maker pulled out because of deteriorating economic conditions.

Additionally, the information supplied by the Venezuelan media is untrustworthy, because many news organizations have been forced to act as de facto organs of 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