Venezuelan cocoa merchant Freddy Galindo, during his 19 years of exporting the country’s legendary beans, faced street raids, family abductions, and deteriorating quality. This year’s harvest created a new concern: the involvement of the socialist government. He added that trucks full of grains leaving their warehouse in central Venezuela were halted by soldiers at checkpoints and seized for days. drivers were forced to unload cargo in public warehouses. Galindo says about 87 tonnes of cocoa, worth about $ 130,000, disappeared when the trucks were finally freed.
In the region of Miranda, Venezuela’s second largest producing region, other traders reported similar delays and confiscations in recent months. Government officials said the checkpoints were made to capture the cocoa thieves and that the beans were seized by the state to pay their owners’ outstanding bills.
But the skirmishes discouraged producers and traders who fear their industry is the target of the government. Authorities “put private companies under pressure to deliver free goods,” said Comercializadora Freyra’s owner, Galindo, in the town of San Jose de Barlovento. He added that he received no explanation about the seizure of his cocoa.
The nationalization paralyzed the oil and production sectors in Venezuela, as well as agriculture, including coffee and sugar.
Venezuela has been cultivating cocoa from the time of Spanish colonial era. It is a small player in the global market, exporting amid 8,000 and 10,000 tons per year, a part of major harvesters such as Ghana and Ivory Coast. However, chocolate makers from Japan to Switzerland consider Venezuelan beans the best in the world. Local artisans face the economic crisis in Venezuela by making gourmet chocolate bars worth $10 at overseas market.
Delays in export licenses have blocked shipments, forcing buyers to go elsewhere. Quality also suffered. Rigorous exchange controls in Venezuela have prevented many farmers from obtaining the imported chemicals they need to fight disease. Many thieves suspect thieves and have abandoned the practice of drying and fermenting grains, making them more aromatic.