Ever wonder what it would be like to be a beer smuggler? Yes, there’s such a thing in Venezuela. Apparently, producing, transporting, distributing and selling craft beer is considered illegal in the country. Sinners be warned!
It all comes down to volume restrictions. According a new mini-doc called Ride Along With An Illegal Beer Smuggler In Venezuela, microbreweries in Venezuela are not given proper liquor licenses and therefore are considered illegal. Penalties for distributing and producing can range from heavy fines to 3-5 years in prison.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused both the U.S. and Colombian governments of trying to stage an invasion. President Maduro accused made the accusations towards the beginning of May when two Americans were arrested with a group of other people.
Both the U.S. and Colombia have denied any report of an attempted coup on Venezuela.
On May 3, a group of Venezuelan rebels and two Americans allegedly began a coup attempt in Venezuela. They began on the northern tip of the country and reportedly had plans to take control of Maracaibo and Caracas. They were all immediately captured and 8 Venezuelans in the group were killed during the conflict.
According to the Daily Mail, Jordan Goudreau, 43, was involved with the coup and told a close friend about it. It is alleged that Goudreau bragged about having a contract with the U.S. government to protect oil interests in Venezuela.
The mercenaries behind the attempted coup claim to have done security for a President Trump rally in 2018.
Goudreau, who has been described as the mastermind of the coup attempt, owns the security company Silvercorp. An old Instagram post shows the Florida-based company running security for a Trump rally back in 2018. The company has since deleted the Instagram posts after news broke about their failed attempt to train Venezuelan rebels and capture the South American country.
“He came out to Colorado,” Drew White, Goudreau’s former business partner told Daily Mail. “He said he had a deal from the State Department to protect oil interests in Venezuela. He was saying it was handed to him directly. He was saying it was directed and passed down by the State Department, that it was a legitimate operation and they also had some private funding backing, which isn’t unusual with these kinds of things. Essentially he was like, ‘We’re going to topple Maduro.’ At that point I was like, ‘This doesn’t seem legitimate” and we broke ways.”
Goudreau claims that the Trump administration and Venezuelan resistance leader Juan Guaidó green-lit the operation.
The U.S. and Venezuela have had a contentious relationship over the past few years. The political unrest in Venezuela has continued to draw criticism from the international community as Venezuelans have protested for a new leader. When the relationship with Trump soured, Maduro began to claim that the U.S. was attempting to overthrow the government.
Both the U.S. and Colombian governments have denied any involvement in the alleged coup.
Reports state that the group of men attempting to topple the Venezuelan government did nothing to hide their plan. The security group was tweeting their plans to the open-world alerting anyone with a Twitter account to their plans. SilverCorp USA has since deleted their Twitter account. Experts and officials have decisively denied any collaboration between the mercenaries and the two governments.
“There is no way that I can see any kind of U.S. involvement,” Fernando Cutz, who served as a Latin America adviser on the National Security Council under both Obama and Trump, told the Huffington Post. “There were no logistics, the numbers were a joke, they clearly didn’t have any intel. A group of high schoolers would have done a better job.”
Social media has spent time dragging the security company over its failed coup attempt.
There is still a lot of speculation swirling around the “coup.” However, Goudreau’s friend is pretty sure that the missions was not as official as Goudreau claims.
“He’s a good man,” White told Daily Mail. “He was the best man at my wedding. We have a lot of history together and it never seemed like he was lying like that. But once you started looking at it, none of it really added up. He kept asking to meet with people for funding. But typically with a State Department contract, the funding is shored up. You might have some private entities helping here and there. But it was pretty obvious that it was not a state-sanctioned activity.”
Many were surprised when Mexico’s government declared beer production a ‘non-essential’ service when it implemented measures meant to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. In early April, the federal government mandated the closure of millions of businesses – including breweries.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador declared a national health emergency at the end of March and called for a halt to non-essential activities that included most manufacturing.
Now, Mexico is running out of cerveza.
As the country faces another month of quarantine, a new crisis looms on the horizon: Mexico is running out of beer.
Beer is in short supply across Mexico as manufactures were ordered closed because of Coronavirus. Mexico’s beer lovers have had a hard time finding stocked shelves after the government deemed the industry non-essential and ordered it shut down.
Since President AMLO declared a national health emergency, beer production is no longer authorized under current sanitary restrictions. This means that production plants from Tabasco to Baja have had to shutter their doors. As a result, beer is a hot commodity. In fact, last weekend at least 25 states across Mexico reported beer shortages both in large supermarket chains and corner tienditas.
Although Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of the beverage — cornering almost 27% of the global beer market — the federal Health Ministry has made it clear that the product is not essential, even after the Agriculture Ministry invited beer manufacturers to resume production in early April.
Oxxo is Latin America’s largest chain of convenience stores and they’re quickly running out of beer.
“If and when we run out of beer, which could happen in the next couple of weeks, that would be negative for sales,” Juan Fonseca, Femsa’s head of investor relations, said on a conference call with analysts. “I don’t want people to get off the call and run to the store, but right now we are probably looking at about 10 days of inventory.”
Although beer production doesn’t pose a major health risk, many see it as possibly limiting adherence to strict social distancing measures. When you drink alcohol, you often become less inhibited and it can also act as a social lubricant – meaning beer drinking may lead to more casual get together or parties.
“I think the government might be afraid if they drink beer, there will be more social interaction,” Padilla said in the call with analysts.
Several groups are urging the government to classify beer as an essential product to help mom and pop tiendas as well as to avoid social unrest.
Mom and pop corner shops and tienditas are struggling to make ends meet since beer often makes up more than 40% of their sales.
“There’s no beer because there’s no production. They closed the plants because of the disease,” said Emilio, a Mexico City shop owner with a few lonely cans of less popular brands of beer left in his refrigerators. Shops carrying ‘No Hay Cerveza’ signs are littered across the city.
“It’s hitting us real hard because beer is what we sell most. Now that we don’t have any, it obviously hurts us. My business supports eight families,” he said among mountains of empty bottles.
Even larger grocery stores are starting to see stocks run low, and the scarcity is being felt at the cash register, as beer prices have risen around 30%. In Tamaulipas, the price of a six-pack has doubled and a case of beer that used to sell for 280 pesos is now going for up to 600 pesos.
Some states are under mandatory ‘dry’ laws while a booming black market is leading many to worry about violence.
Some areas of the country are under government-mandated dry laws either banning outright the sale of alcohol or limiting the hours during which it can be purchased, but the shortage has imposed de facto dry laws on other regions simply because supplies do not exist.
Even in the capital, Mexico City, certain parts of the city have enacted dry laws banning the sale of alcohol.
Meanwhile, smugglers on the northern border are bringing in clandestine shipments of beer from the U.S. Beer runners are taking to social media to sell their illegal beers, which are being trafficked similarly to cocaine and marijuana. Sellers will bring beer to a customer’s door to lower the risk of being caught by police, but purchasers will often pay a 300% premium for the service.