During a tour of a recently opened government run restaurant in the neighborhood La Rinconada in Caracas, Canan highlighted how these new facilities are breaking with older models of doing business in Venezuela.
“The creation of these socialist arepa restaurants allows us to demonstrate to capitalist businesses that it is possible to have a venue where food can be sold at a fair price and not as a commodity, as it is under capitalist concepts”.
Arepas represent the single most important food of the Venezuelan diet. They consist of corn flour patties, which, once flattened and grilled, are slit open and filled with chicken, black beans, cheese, or any number of other ingredients.
The seven new arepa restaurants that began operations this year are currently finishing a trial period which, according to Canan, has yielded very positive results.
“[F]rom January to date we have sold 693,000 arepas. Here, the savings for the people reach more than 70%. While capitalist arepas cost between 20 and 30 bolivars each, [our] socialist arepas cost 7.5 bolivars, covering production and labor costs”, the Commerce Minister said.
Maria Molina, a worker at the new restaurant in La Riconada which employs 23 others from the community, commented on the services being provided and the work environment of the new facility.
“I can say that this has really been a success. The people are very pleased. And those of us who work here, speaking for all of us, it gives us satisfaction. We have a really excellent work team and things have been really good,” said Molina.
The restaurant in La Riconadahas been made functional withhelp and input from the neighborhood’scommunity council. Thecommunity councils are units ofgrassroots democracy that havebeen established all over Venezuelato foster greater participationfrom ordinary residents in themanagement and implementationof projects that impact theircommunity.
The new arepa restaurants havealso benefited from the collaborationof the National Nutrition Institute,which is helping to trainworkers on questions of sanitationand hygiene as well as nutritionalstandards for the productsbeing offered.
“We guarantee food for ourpeople”, Minister Canan said,adding, “and here we are provingit alongside the community councilsand state institutions in orderto ensure food security”.
Promoting National Production
Canan also pointed out that,rather than having to rely onimports to satisfy demand, allthe food products that are being sold in the new restaurantscome directly from Venezuelandomestic agricultural production.
In this respect, the CommerceMinister took advantage of hisvisit to report on other food securitymeasures taking place in Venezuela,including the distributionof more than eight thousand tons oflow cost fruits and vegetables toover 456 locations throughout thecountry.
“The reality is that the food weare producing in the 110 agroindustrialplants is being distributedto the people”, Canan said,referring to the media blackoutthat has accompanied the government’swork in guaranteeingfood security.
In related news, the Ministerfor Land and Agriculture,Juan Carlos Loyo, reported onSunday that milk productionin Venezuela has risen by 50%over the past 11 years and iscurrently producing some 560thousand tons.
According to Loyo, meat productionhas also increased 18%this year.“This year, we will produce 2.5million tons of meat in Venezuelaand this guarantees us a nationallyproduced supply of close to78-80% of demand”, he said.
Loyo attributed these productionincreases to governmentefforts to strengthen the agriculturalsector.
“Our agricultural policies areintegrated and accompanied bylaws which stimulate and aid ourproducers, such as the Land and Agrarian Development Law andthe Agro-Alimentary Security and Sovereignty Law”.