The owner of Venezuela’s largest food and beverage company, Empresas Polar, was detained by airport authorities today in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, and prohibited from leaving the country, according to the company.
Lorenzo Mendoza, a vocal critic of President Nicolas Maduro, was trying to catch a flight to a business conference in Quito, Ecuador, but airport authorities would not allow him to board the plane “on orders from Caracas,” Mendoza told reporters inside the airport.
The unexplained detention and “harassment” of the billionaire businessman was quickly picked up by the media and denounced by opposition politicians.
Employees from the beer company also mobilized and marched to the airport to support their CEO.
The ensuing media circus at the airport turned into an opportunity for Mendoza to further blast the Venezuelan government for it’s “absurd persecution” of him and his company, and it’s total mismanagement of the economy. He said his factories have been closed for six days due to the lack to primary materials in Venezuela.
“The Venezuelan state has paralyzed the national industry due to lack of primary materials,” he said, before getting into a full explanation of why the Venezuelan economy is failing. Polar has been battling worsening production production for years as the country runs out of barley, malt and everything else needed to produce food and brew beer.
Mendoza, who said he would catch a flight back to Caracas after not being allowed to leave the country, apologized to Ecuador for not being able to attend the conference.