(CNN) – Coca-Cola delivery trucks in Venezuela sit empty. The beverage company has stopped production “of sugar-based” beverages because sugar producers have run out of raw materials.
In a statement, a Coca-Cola said spokeswoman said, “Local sugar suppliers have informed us that they expect to restore their inventories in the near term to resume normal distribution. Our local offices and distribution centers remain open and operational.”
Sugarcane production in Venezuela has been falling due to price controls and rising production costs, as well as problems in obtaining fertilizer. Venezuela has become a hard place to do business.
Pepsi reported in October a $1.4 billion charge in for its business in Venezuela, citing the country’s currency woes. Polar enterprises suspended beer production in April and laid off 10,000 workers due to lack of barley.
Workers protested, saying the government’s socialist policies has disrupted supply and demand. “This is very stressful,” this worker says. “As time goes on, we’re losing more and more resources and that makes us very worried.”
The average Venezuelan faces problems that go well beyond being unable to enjoy a drink, soft or otherwise. For the last several weeks, the country has been facing blackouts up to 4 hours long.
Government employees are working only two days a week and president Maduro shifted the country’s time zone by 30 minutes because the country is also facing an energy crisis. Shortages of basic food products and personal hygiene items like soap are affecting many people as well.
Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs editor, said, “Well, the problem is that even if you have the money is so scarce that people have to supermarkets, stand in line for hours and hours, and maybe if they’re lucky after for, five hours they can get maybe one, maybe two, but not much more than that.”
President Maduro, who’s facing a recall referendum, says this is all part of what he calls “an economic war” against his government and has threatened companies that suspend operations. Maduro explains, “Every plant that has halted operations will be given to the people,” the president said, peppering his comment with an obscenity.
It’s not an empty threat. Starting with his late Predecessor Hugo Chavez, the socialist government has nationalized several industries, replacing executives with loyalist which has driven many businesses to the ground.