Special Report  
Guardian’s Venezuela Glass Plant:  
One Year After the Takeover  
A Politicized Workplace  
Venvidrio workers also face  
little over a year ago, the  
government of Venezuela  
seized the Guardian  
Industries glass plant in the city  
of Maturin when the U.S. com-  
pany tried to perform routine  
maintenance on the furnaces  
there. Since then, a DWM analy-  
sis of social media and Internet  
A
near-constant  
indoctrination.  
government  
The company’s social media  
feeds are full of photos of work-  
ers taking part in pro-Maduro  
protest marches, and workplace  
“educational sessions” with  
posts indicates that the facili- The former Guardian Industries plant in Maturin, government officials appear to  
ty has struggled to operate at Venezuela was taken over by the government of President be common.  
times. Additionally, the workers Nicolas Maduro in late July of 2016.  
have faced political coercion  
Pro-Maduro groups are  
searching for the social media  
from Venvidrio, the state-owned com- “abandoned” or “sabotaged” the facil- accounts of suspected anti-govern-  
pany that manages the factory.  
ity, and it says the takeover violated ment sympathizers and pointing  
international investment treaties.  
them out — including one woman  
who might be an employee at the  
Maturin facility.  
A Notable Anniversary  
In early August, Venvidrio put out a Do “Benefits” = Rations?  
press release claiming the workers at  
Earlier this summer, glass workers at  
In June, an account called Mamba  
the plant “joyfully” celebrated the first the plant were issued homeland iden- Negra (@Mamba4F92) posted a tweet  
anniversary of the government take- tity cards that allow the holders to buy that claimed a director of human  
over, which was sparked when Guardian subsidized food and other basic neces- resources at the former Guardian plant  
attempted to shut down the facility to sities. The cards are issued by the gov- in Maturin is a secret supporter of the  
perform maintenance on the float line.  
The employees of the “socialist  
ernment of President Nicolas Maduro. opposition party. It was retweeted more  
A news release said the registration than 1,300 times.  
organization” held activities to cel- event at the plant was accompanied  
ebrate the plant restarting, saying it by “an atmosphere full of happiness A Warning Unheeded?  
has become “a national symbol of the and revolutionary music.” It said the  
Last September, Guardian said it  
production of flat glass in Venezuela.” cards will help “strengthen social pro- warned Maduro’s government it would  
Social media posts showed about tection programs that solve the prob- be dangerous to continue making glass  
8
0-90 workers taking part in the event. lems and needs of the people.”  
at the Maturin plant without finishing  
According to CINVICRE, a trade orga-  
However, critics say they are used the maintenance work that the com-  
nization in Venezuela, the Guardian to control the population in a country pany had started before the seizure. So  
plant once employed 250 people.  
where food shortages are common. was it ever completed? It’s impossible  
A February article from Caracas to be certain.  
In November 2016, a worker at the  
website that features reports from factory told DWM that the facility was  
Before, the owners left with almost Venezuela, says the ration cards can “a shell of itself.” He said no glass  
all the profits and also abandoned the only be obtained from the ruling polit- was being produced, though he indi-  
workers,” said Emilio Lobado, who ical party’s local committees. cated that the workers were keeping  
has 27 years of service at the former “You are explicitly asked which the float line and furnaces up and  
Venvidrio says the employees  
expressed satisfaction at belonging to Chronicles, an English-language  
such an important enterprise.  
Guardian facility. “Today, as a state party you support when you go to running. (DWM hasn’t identified the  
enterprise, we receive more benefits sign up,” the article says. “It isn’t hard worker because of safety concerns.)  
than we received before.”  
to imagine how difficult it will be for  
Also in November, Argelio Salazar  
Guardian has forcefully rejected people with different political opin- (@ArgelioSalazar) sent a tweet to the  
Venezuela’s claim that the company ions to obtain” a card.  
host of a popular pro-government  
2
2
Door & Window Market  
www.dwmmag.com  
Venvidrio: Dead or Alive?  
TV show in Venezuela that said “it is  
urgent to reactivate the glass plant  
state-run businesses in Venezuela have  
In March, a report from inde- a terrible track record.  
Transparency International,  
GUARDIAN OF VENEZUELA S.A. ... in pendent newspaper El Carabobeno  
a
case we run out of flat glass.” DWM’s said Venvidrio was almost bankrupt. German anti-corruption organiza-  
research indicates that Salazar is However, a government press release tion with offices in more than 100  
involved with a silica mining compa- days later claimed the company was countries, says 70 percent of the 511  
ny in Venezuela. Silica is a key ingre- operating normally and that the former companies that are run by Venezuela’s  
dient in glass manufacturing.  
In February 2017, the government  
Guardian facility was up and running.  
Venvidrio president Ghimi Santini,  
government are losing money.  
Transparency International also  
claimed it was restarting operations who is also a general in theVenezuelan rated Venezuela as one of the most  
at the facility under the direction of army, said the factory was at its “maxi- corrupt nations in the world in its  
Venvidrio. That’s the state-run glass mum operative capacity” at the time.  
2016 Corruption Perceptions Index.  
conglomerate formed in 2010 when While Venvidrio’s management of It’s ranked No. 166 out of 176 coun-  
Venezuela seized two bottle-making the plant indicates that the government tries surveyed, the worst score in all of  
plants run by another U.S. company, is serious about ramping up flat glass the Americas.  
Owens-Illinois.  
production, a new study shows that  
— Trey Barrineau y  
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August/September 2017  
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