VHeadline commentarist Arthur Shaw writes: Agriculture accounts for approximately 7% of Venezuela's GDP, 13% of the labor force, and at least one-fourth of Venezuela's land area. Although the Revolution has won many big and lasting victories in food production and security, Venezuela is not yet self-sufficient in most areas of agriculture. Venezuela imports about two-thirds of its food. Through November 2006, US imperialists exported $500 million worth of agricultural products to make Venezuela one of the top two US markets in South America ... they supply roughly one-quarter of Venezuela's food imports.
Cargill Inc, the US giant in the food business, supplies a big part of this one-quarter of Venezuela's food imports.
Cargill is the largest privately owned company in the United States. "Privately owned" means its shares of stock aren't traded on any stock exchange and the company therefore doesn't have to report on most of its operations. Thus, we are now unable to watch the effect of the recent expropriation of some of Cargill's assets in Venezuela on the price of its unlisted stock. Were Cargill a publicly-held company in the USA, it would rank in the top 20 companies in the Fortune 500.
The food giant employs or exploits over 160,000 employees at 1,100 locations in 67 countries. It is responsible for 25% of all United States grain exports. The company also supplies approximately 22% of the United States domestic meat market, exporting more meat product from Argentina than any other company and is one of the world's largest poultry producers. All of the eggs used in McDonald's restaurants in the United States pass through Cargill's plants.
Cargill's strategy in international trade is savage laissez faire capitalism or vile neo-liberalism ... it begs, and gets, lavish farm subsidies from the regime in Washington. Cargill uses these state subsidies to undersell or ruin farmers in other countries. The only way farmers in other countries can deal with unfair or subsidized competition from Cargill and the US regime is to impose tariffs on Cargill imports. So, Cargill and the US regime are strong supporters of "free trade" or ... in other words ... no protection for the domestic industries in other countries.
When the farmers in other countries are ruined by unfair or subsidized competition, Cargill rushes in and grabs their land and businesses until it dominates the agricultural base of that country ... as soon as Cargill ascends to become the supreme food power in that country ... discretely hiding behind the impotent local throne, it shows, and uses, its fangs and claws. Cargill enslaves children and works them 16 hours a day ... as it did in Mali and Ivory Coast. Cargill hires death squads to murder and torture striking workers as it did in Colombia.
[We can show that Colombian death squads attacked striking workers on Cargill's plantations in Colombia. Cargill however claims that the labor strike and the death squad attacks were a coincidence. Neither Cargill nor the death squads have so far confess that an agreement existed between them, as one similarly situated US banana company in Colombia has done.]
In Venezuela, Cargill never reached this final stage of involuntary servitude and death squad capitalism ... but it was getting there until the Revolution blocked it!
The fundamental principle that underlies Cargill's operations is to sell less food at higher prices for bigger profits. So, around 2006, Cargill tricked the US regime into giving fabulous subsidies to US farmers to transfer almost a third of the US corn crop from human consumption to fuel production. Corn and other food prices quickly shot up along with Cargill's profits ... and, the amount of world famine and malnutrition shot up too ... as a consequence, millions more people starved and starving to death, but Cargill was happy, even delighted, by ballooning famine around the world before the full force of the capitalist crisis hit.
Cargill's operations in South America are mainly in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Cargill muscled its way into Venezuela in 1986 and took over Agroindustrial MiMesa (a pasta and flour business) in Maracaibo ... since then, Cargill moved aggressively to concentrate as much as possible of the food industry in its hands. Cargill expanded in Venezuela through both acquisitions and self-growth in the following areas: oilseed processing, grain processing, grain and oilseeds trading, animal feed, salt ... and ... very importantly ... financial and risk management.
Financial and risk management brokerages enabled Cargill to become a key money manager for many elements of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie in the food and other industries. Cargill lost most of their money and much of its own ... victims of securities and accounting frauds in the bond market. So, some elements of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie are mighty happy that the Revolution went in, slapped, and grabbed Cargill as a result of the dispute about white rice.
Cargill also grew into something of an ideological and political leader ... or gang leader ... of wide sectors of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, a role that Cargill relished and performed with the assistance of the CIA, USAID, and NED.
The company has approximately 2,000 employees spread among 22 locations across Venezuela.
(1) Two offices in Caracas
(2) Thirteen manufacturing plants: Barquisimeto, Cabimas, Catia, Catia La Mar, La Encrucijada, Los Olivitos, three in the Maracaibo area, Maracay Piritu, and two in the Valencia area