Venezuelan Pharmacy Chain Challenges State Raid, Expropriation

EspañolIn the last five days alone, the Venezuelan government has arrested at least 17 owners, shareholders, or managers of private companies, whose property or workplaces have also been confiscated by the government.

On the night of Saturday, January 31, six managers and the executive president of pharmaceutical and foodstuffs chain Farmatodo, a business with over 160 stores and more than 90 years of operations in the country, were arrested. Five were later freed from the headquarters of the Intelligence Service (Sebin) on Sunday.

Maduro stated that Farmatodo would be absorbed into the system of state food distribution dubbed Misión Alimentación (Mission Nourishment) in a “public-private” alliance. According to Venezuelan daily El Nacional, the owners of the pharmaceutical chain still don’t know whether the measure constitutes a complete expropriation of their property.

In a statement, Farmatodo management claimed that their “conduct was well-known and transparent, so we’re permanently available for the authorities to investigate our operations, such as in the 60 inspections that we’ve satisfactorily passed during the month of January.”

On Monday, President Nicolás Maduro announced in a plenary conference of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) that Cabello was to head up the seizure of another company, Corporación Cárnica, and its folding into state rationing organ PDVAL. Four executives and a shareholder were arrested for hoarding and speculation, among other charges.

Maduro christened the seizure of private businesses “Operation Sucre,” using Twitter to spread the respective hastag #OperaciónSucre.
“Maduro launches #OperaciónSucre to seize businesses involved in the Economic War.”

On Tuesday, February 3, under the direction of National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, the government seized 35 stores belonging to supermarket chain Día a Díaalleging that management had hoarded products resulting in huge lines of clients.

On the same day, with five of Día a Día’s management arrested, its outlets began to apply the procedure of state-run stores: customers now have to present themselves to make purchases according to the last digit on their identity number, spread out across the week.

Sources: El Nacional, La Patilla, Reuters.

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