The government instituted price controls for this or that reason, whatever the scant wisdom of that, Cargill et.al. are alleged to have done some regulatory arbitrage - that's the buzzword these days I guess - evading said price controls by adding some artificial flavoring to their rice and jacking the price, and so Chavez sends in the jackboots:
Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua said today on state television that Polar was processing 90 percent of its rice outside of price controls and charged double for the product after adding a powder with artificial coloring and flavoring.
The Venezuelan Rice Mill Association, known as Asovema, lists 11 companies as members on its Web site, including Minnesota-based Cargill Inc.
Lisa Clemens, a Cargill spokeswoman in Minnetonka, Minnesota, didn’t immediately return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment. A security guard at Cargill’s office in Caracas said there was no one available to comment.
Rafael Torres, a supervisor at the Iancarina CA processing plant in Venezuela’s Portuguesa state, said he was unaware of Chavez’s order and that the plant was operating normally.
Asovema issued a statement expressing surprise at the measure because the industry is producing at full capacity and the government has yet to establish quotas for different types of rice, according to El Universal. The government’s action won’t increase the supply of rice in supermarkets, the statement said.
Well that's all very illuminating. How hard would it be for the international press to... taste some rice? Or shop for dinner? Would it be too much to look at some financial statements? Do the bare minimum of actual reporting on a headline international story? It's generally bewildering how the news from Venezuela can always make the news without any reporting of any news.