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Chávez bought the Casino but couldn't hit the jackpot

The 'eternal commander' of the Bolivarian Revolution wanted to have his chain of socialist supermarkets and to that end he ordered the expropriation of the Éxito Stores in 2010, which he believed to be Colombian. By the time he found out that they belonged to the French Casino Group, it was too late: the Paris government had intervened and obtained not only a hefty payment for the business, but also helped retain a French participation in what became Abastos Bicentenario. Seven years later, when the supply chain languishes, the French continue to sell up to 3,000 tons a year of non-food products through a company in Panama. 

6/18/2017 10:34:34 AM

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Just by setting foot in any of the state-run Abastos Bicentenario is enough to verify the decline of what once was one of the main chains of supermarkets in Venezuela. For example, the branch in Terrazas del Ávila, east of Caracas, has poor lighting, damaged refrigerators, endless rows displaying the same product, employees wandering the aisles and empty shelves crowned with political propaganda. The picture is mirrored in other establishments of the capital that still remain open.

It is a failure difficult to conceal, even, for the Government. "Abastos Bicentenario is rotten, so I say and order a complete and absolute restructuring", Nicolás Maduro admitted in February 2016. In a rather late effort to rescue this food network, Maduro has just named Ramón Campos Cabello, captain of the army and cousin to the runner-up in the Chavismo, Diodado Cabello, as president of the supermarket chain.

The recognition of the President of the Republic came weeks after intelligence agencies carried out a police operation that ended up in the arrest of executives and employees of the company.