Published: 01/09/2015
Soft drinks could become the next product that disappears from shelves in hapless Venezuela as currency controls and economic mismanagement continue to generate shortages in the struggling South American nation.

A Pepsi factory in the city of Valencia said it shut down operations in August because it’s not able to purchase bottle caps or parts for cans. Two other Pepsi bottling plants are also reportedly at risk of shuttering for similar reasons.

Dozens of Pepsi workers, afraid of losing their jobs, picketed outside the factory on Wednesday. They said that Polar, a large bottling company that supplies Pepsi with materials, stopped sending bottle caps and supplies for cans over a week ago.

“Our suppliers are not getting dollars to buy raw materials,” said Argenis Peraza one of the leaders of the protest outside the Valencia factory. “If they don’t have aluminum sheets, they can’t make [bottle caps] and our assembly lines get shut down.”

Currency controls in Venezuela force companies to buy U.S. dollars from the government when they need to import supplies. But as oil revenues fall in the petrol-dependent nation, the government has struggled to allocate enough greenbacks to dozens of companies, which has stalled imports and grinded production lines in factories across the country.