Mérida, July 3rd 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - In joint
operations between Monday and Wednesday, the Venezuelan National Guard and the
Caracas police seized 33 beer delivery trucks bearing the logo of Venezuela's
largest food and beverage producer, Polar, for allegedly selling beer and
liquor illegally in the sprawling low-income barrios of the Venezuelan capital.
"The trucks were found in peripheral areas in our Caracas barrios
selling liquors in a clandestine manner, that is, in individual homes and to
unlicensed stores," said Renny Villaverde of the Autonomous Institute for
Citizen Security, an entity of the city of the Libertador Municipality of
The illegal transactions have been taking place between four o'clock
and eight o'clock in the morning, in violation of alcohol sales laws, according
to Villaverde, who said he received direct orders from the Ministry for
Internal Affairs and Justice to intervene in the activity.
Polar will be fined, and the seized beer will be confiscated by the
municipal tax and customs service, according to Villaverde.
Government officials have repeatedly criticized beer and liquor
distributors for selling their products illegally in poor neighborhoods, saying
the activity has contributed to crime, delinquency, and violence against women.
Earlier this year, the Chavez government stepped up its efforts to
enforce the laws regulating food producers. In March, government officials took
over the administration of a Polar rice processing plant after finding that the
plant was operating at half its capacity and adding artificial flavoring to 90%
of its rice in order to evade government price controls, which only apply to
essential, unenhanced food items.
Polar was also subject to more than seventy inspections in early 2008,
when mild food shortages hit Venezuela in the midst of the world food crisis.
The government accused the company of hoarding food to drive up prices, create
unrest in the population, and incite anti-government sentiment.