The government of Venezuela recently seized Guardian Industries’ float glass plant there, according to reports from the country’s state-affiliated media and a press release from the U.S.-based company.
An August 1 report from the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, Venezuela’s national news agency, says President Nicolas Maduro discussed the “surprise closure” of a U.S. glass company in Monagas, which is where Guardian’s plant is located. Maduro, speaking during a meeting at Venezuela’s military academy in Caracas, claimed Guardian closed the facility as part of a U.S.-led “economic war” against Venezuela and its people, but that operations “will be quickly reactivated by workers, with the support of the national government and with the experience of the Venezuelan socialist (glass) enterprise (Venvidrio),” according to a Google translation of the news story.
However, Guardian says Maduro’s government took over the plant.
“Last week, the Venezuelan government seized control of Guardian’s operations in Venezuela by military force,” a statement from the company reads. “Guardian has operated proudly in Venezuela for decades. 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.”
This tweet from an account associated with the Venezuelan military shows pictures of men in uniform holding a meeting with workers at Guardian de Venezuela about “threats of lockout.”
— ADI 522 L. Zaragoza (@ADI_LZaragoza) August 2, 2016
A story from the government-backed Correo del Orinoco newspaper says Maduro plans to visit the Guardian plant in the next few days.
While Madoro frequently blames U.S. imperialism for Venezuela’s ongoing economic turmoil, most analysts cite the collapse of global oil prices and the country’s socialist policies for causing drastic food shortages, skyrocketing inflation and soaring unemployment. To prevent a popular uprising, the government declared a state of emergency in mid-May and ordered the state seizure of factories, Yahoo News reported.
In July, the Venezuelan operations of U.S. multinational Kimberly-Clark were seized after a shortage of raw materials forced the company to close the plant, according to Time magazine.
According to CINVICRE, a trade organization in Venezuela, the Guardian glass plant there employs 250 workers and has the capacity to produce about 450 metric tons per day. It’s been in operation since 1990, and when it opened it was the country’s first float glass facility, according to a 1988 report from the Journal of Commerce. It’s one of three float glass plants Guardian operates in South America. The other two are in Brazil.