Venezuela is facing a dire beer shortage, in large part thanks to the economic upheaval the country is currently facing. Just last month, the largest food and beer distributor, Empresas Polar, closed its last beer production facility. And that’s a problem. Because in good times, and even more so in bad, people turn to alcohol. It’s one of the few industries that’s not dramatically impacted by an economy’s downturn. The people might drink different products depending on whether it’s boom time or bust, but they’ll still drink. But if there’s nothing available to imbibe with, the country has a serious problem on its hands.
As the economic upheaval has gotten worse, opposition leader Henrique Capriles has declared, “Venezuela is a bomb that could explode at any moment.”
And that’s exactly why Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro threatened this Saturday that either the beer factories start producing again, or he’ll take them over and throw the owners in jail – never mind that the opposition accuses both Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez of mismanaging the economy so badly that they placed the country in this position in the first place.
According to Maduro, the businesses want to intensify the economic situation by denying the population the things they need most, beer, as well as other necessities like toilet paper – which basically sounds like VinePair’s weekly shopping list.
It remains to be seen if the threat causes brewing to begin again in Venezuela, but until it does, we imagine someone has to be making a heck of a profit bootlegging. After all, desperate economic times cause for desperate booze measures.