A Venezuelan state-owned aluminum firm has announced it wants to furlough more than 300 workers at its Costa Rica plant because of lack of raw goods to operate, Costa Rica’s Labor Ministry announced this week.
The situation is one more manifestation of Venezuela’s economic agony as it teeters on the brink of default and as its government scrambles to juggle its shrinking finances.
The Venezuelan army general in charge of the factory in Costa Rica, Noel Martinez, told a group of the workers on Tuesday that Alunasa had problems sending needed aluminum from Venezuela for the plant to operate.
He said he had asked Caracas for permission to source the metal from other markets.
According to Costa Rica’s Labor Ministry, the company issued a notification on March 22 that it wanted to suspend all but 40 of the workers at the plant because of the lack of raw materials.
The suspension would be for three months, the ministry said, adding that it was examining whether the request was justified.
The factory is located in Esparza, 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of the Costa Rican capital, San José. It is the principal employer in the town and its surrounding area.
Venezuela’s economy has sunk inexorably since 2014, when global prices for oil crashed. Venezuela is reliant on exports of crude.
Since then, hyperinflation has set in, basic foodstuffs and medicine have become scarce, and state workers have seen their work week shortened to save electricity.