Venezuela Launches New State-Owned Cotton Plant

One hundred jobs will be provided by a new state-owned cotton factory inaugurated by President Nicolas Maduro in Miranda state on Tuesday.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Maduro visiting the new cotton factory in Miranda on Tuesday (Prensa Miraflores)
Maduro visiting the new cotton factory in Miranda on Tuesday (Prensa Miraflores)

Mérida, 16th October 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – One hundred jobs will be provided by a new state-owned cotton factory inaugurated by President Nicolas Maduro in Miranda state on Tuesday.

Located in Miranda's Guaicaipuro municipality, the factory will produce cotton clothing, fabrics and fibers. It is part of the state-owned Algodones del Orinoco (Orinoco Cotton), based in Guarico state.

The Guaicaipuro plant was previously privately owned. Speaking at the inauguration, minister for foreign affairs and head of the national government's Integral Development Corporation of Miranda State Elias Jaua stated that its previous owners had neglected the factory in the 1990s, but it has been under rehabilitation since 2011.

“More than 171 workers had been abandoned by the capitalist owner,” he stated.

“Chavez ordered the expropriation of the premises, approved resources and paid the workers. If anyone wants to see how socialism works, here's this company,” Jaua said.

According to state news agency AVN, the government has invested around 84 million bolivars ($13.3 million) in rehabilitating the factory, which will now employ around 100 workers.

The inauguration took place during Maduro's visit to Guaicaipuro, as part of the second phase of his street government. The president described the factory as crucial “for the production, for work, for... economic growth” in the municipality.

“Algodones del Orinoco joins the popular government as part of a new stage of the revolution,” Maduro stated.

According to Maduro, the rehabilitated plant has been outfitted with Chinese machinery, acquired through bilateral deals with the Chinese government.

“This latest technology is bringing a revolution in economic development to Venezuela,” Maduro stated.

In recent years China has become the Venezuelan government's largest foreign source of financing, lending Caracas over US$32 billion since 2007. The low-interest loans are being paid of by the Venezuelan government with oil exports to the Asian giant; around 430,000 barrels a day of crude as of 2012.

According to state media, the factory will also include facilities for worker training, including political education. The investment is also part of efforts to boost Venezuela's national cotton industry, which has struggled over the last decade with low output.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Venezuela lost over half its cotton producing land between 1975 and 2012, though the government hopes to increase productivity in the sector over the next few years.

Along with opening the new cotton plant, during the Miranda street government the Maduro administration also pledged to improve public infrastructure across the state.

According to Jaua, the national government will focus on revitalising historic buildings in the state capital, Los Teques, and implementing Barrio Nuevo, Barrio Tricolor. The latter is a national scheme aimed at upgrading Venezuela's poor neighbourhoods.

However, during Tuesday's inauguration, Maduro also hit out at the state governor of Miranda, former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. Describing Capriles as a “parasite”, Maduro accused his former rival for presidency of being excessively absent from his position.

On Wednesday, teachers held a protest in Los Teques, alleging that the Miranda state government had failed to pay their wages.

“The people have the right to activate all institutional and legal mechanisms against anyone who fails to meet their obligations,” Maduro stated.

“Such a government [of Miranda state] belongs to the people of Miranda, not a fascist,” he said. 

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