Bicycles, coffee, medicine, cellphones, aerospace components, petroleum, milk, hotels. Venezuela’s state-run companies are producing a dizzying array of products and services, as the socialist administration has morphed into a sprawling conglomerate that would be the envy of any capitalist.
The nonprofit Transparency International says it has identified at least 511 companies that are either wholly or majority owned by the government of Venezuela — and 70 percent of them are losing money, potentially adding to Venezuela’s economic meltdown.
The sheer number of companies under state control seems to put Venezuela in a class of its own, the group said. Brazil, which has about six times the population of Venezuela, has 130 state-run companies, and Argentina, a third larger than Venezuela, has 52.
“We started this study because nobody really knows how many companies the state is running,” said Mercedes De Freitas, the director of the Venezuelan branch of Transparency International. “The state has invaded every sector imaginable.” …