Venezuelan Official: Guardian Plant Now a “Socialist Company”

Jesus Gonzalez, the secretary of production and development for Venezuela’s Monagas state, today said Guardian’s float glass plant there is now “a socialist company” after the government seized the business late last week. His statement came after Yelitza Santaella, the governor of Monagas, announced that Venezuela is “recovering” the Guardian facility to ensure it resumes production.

Gonzalez told a local newspaper, La Verdad de Monagas, that Guardian pulled out of Venezuela three weeks ago and abandoned 110 employees at the country’s main glass-processing plant, forcing President Nicolas Maduro’s government to step in. Gonzalez said the company has 150 shipping containers full of glass sitting in the port city of Guanta waiting to be exported.

[RELATED: Venezuela Takes Over Guardian’s Glass Facility]

Gonzalez added that Maduro will visit the plant soon. Gonzalez said Maduro’s visit will emphasize that the factory’s workers — “the most important resource in the production of this glass” — will not be forsaken.

Santaella echoed remarks made earlier this week by Maduro, who said Guardian shut down the facility as part of a U.S.-led economic war against Venezuela. Maduro said Guardian carried out a “surprise closure” of the plant, its only facility in the South American country.

Guardian, in a statement, said the government seized its operations by force.

Santaella rationalized the seizure by saying Venezuela helped Guardian establish its operations in 1988 with incentives and that Guardian has a duty to fulfill its obligations to the state.

“As with Guardian, there are many companies who were also helped to start up in Venezuela with state resources,” Santaella said. “And now, they seek to close their doors to negatively impact the Venezuelan economy. This we will not allow.”

According to a December 1988 story from the Journal of Commerce, Guardian entered into a $100 million joint venture to build the float glass plant in Venezuela. At the time, Guardian owned 49 percent of the operation. CVG, a state-run company, owned 30 percent and an unnamed private investor owned 21 percent. The facility opened in 1990.

While Maduro 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. To prevent a popular uprising, the government declared a state of emergency in mid-May and ordered the state seizure of factories.

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