Rows of locked gates, rusty pieces of metal, and weeds growing in the backyards of factories mark the landscape of Valencia, a two-hour drive from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. The country’s once industrial city is an example of the deterioration in business activities.
The Venezuelan Industrial Confederation (Conindustria, in Spanish) says the situation is a result of the expropriation policy and restrictions imposed by the government of former President Hugo Chávez and the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro.
“Companies that operate now are working at a top capacity of 20 percent. We don’t have statistics that are 100 percent certain, but of 13,000 companies that were active in Venezuela, about 2,500 are still in business,” Luis Alberto Hernández, head of the Carabobo State Industrial Chamber, told Voice of America.
The main engine of the economy in this area of central Venezuela was the assembly of automobiles for transnational companies General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.
Hernández says that of these three companies, “General Motors has already left the country. The facilities were abandoned […] and the other two, Ford and Chrysler, have not produced a single vehicle this year .”
According to Conindustria, 80 percent of companies in the country acknowledged that they had to decrease their production in 2018.
In the first quarter of 2019, only 65 cars were produced in the entire country, a minuscule amount compared to the 45,000 units produced a decade earlier, according to the Automotive Chamber of Venezuela.
“Years before, the industrial area was very productive. Now it has declined a bit. Some companies have closed. The few remaining have reduced personnel. They have closed down due to the situation,” Yenny Bravo, a worker in Valencia’s industrial area, told VOA.
Gregorio Briceño worked in the automotive industry from 1979 until a couple of years ago. His position no longer exists. “General Motors was once able to make 200 to 309 vehicles a day. Now, everything is paralyzed,” he told VOA.
The industry’s main claim for its downfall is the lack of raw materials for production and price control policies.
In the last five years, 44 international companies like Kellogg’s and Firestone left Venezuela, said Conindustria, due to obstacles to operating in the country.