Gov't takes over coffee firms


The government has taken over Venezuela's two largest coffee makers, Fama de America and Cafe Madrid. FdA has been nationalised and CM turned into a partially state-owned mixed-enterprise.

This follows a three-month period of government inspection of the companies on suspicion they were hoarding, speculating and smuggling coffee into Colombia to avoid government price controls.

The head of the National Superintendent of Silos, Carlos Osorio, said the two companies were producing and distributing 70% of Venezuelan coffee, leaving nearly 100 other producers with little market share.

The government's plan is to reduce FdA and CM's total market share to 50%, and distribute the other 50% to small- and medium-sized coffee producers and cooperatives, Osorio said.

The FdA workers have welcomed the nationalisation. The union secretary, Gustavo Martine, said workers were willing to work with the government to revamp production. He said under the old management, "We planted, processed and packaged and [the owners] were the ones who collected the profits".

[Abridged from]