First arriving in Venezuela in 1997, the American hamburger chain had grown to 35 restaurants throughout the formerly oil-rich Andean nation.
By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Venezuelan representatives of U.S. fast dining chain Wendy’s confirmed to the Latin American Herald Tribune on Tuesday the company was “exiting Venezuela” without providing a reason.
An accountant at Wendy's Venezuela franchiser Wenco Servicios de Comida Rapida CA told LAHT that “We are exiting Venezuela. I don’t even come to the office anymore, you just happened to catch me as I was going in to pick up some stuff I had left there.” She said she is not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
Wendy’s arrived in Venezuela in 1997 during a period of long, sustained bonanza and economic growth that ended during the Bolivarian Revolution of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.
Wendy’s in Venezuela took over stores and operations from a local and legendary fast food chain, Tropi-Burger, and by this year had 35 locations throughout the country.
But under the Maduro Regime's restrictive Covid-19 rules, only 3 of Wendy's locations remained operating during the pandemic.
That wasn't the only problem the American burger chain has faced in the formerly oil-rich Andean nation.
In 2010, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez forced Wendy's (and McDonalds) to move out of a central plaza where the anti-American communist government was putting a statue of Cuba's Fidel Castro.
In May 2019 at the first Wendy’s store -- in what still is upscale Los Palos Grandes in East Caracas -- the restaurant was attacked by a motorcycle gang during a failed military uprising in nearby Francisco de Miranda air force base led by National Assembly President Juan Guaido.
Employees at the shop told reporters at the time it had been pro-Maduro regime “colectivo” gangs, shooting at the windows of the restaurant. Luckily, the thick glass withstood the attack. The restaurant’s playground for children is located near the shot-up window.
LAHT contacted Wendy's corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, but the stock exchange-listed company (NASDAQ: WEN), would not give an on-the-record reason for the closure of its Venezuela franchises.
Wendy's had stopped reporting Venezuela in its financials over a decade ago under its financial rules that exclude countries that are "highly inflationary." Wendy's considers "economies that have had cumulative inflation in excess of 100% over a three year period as highly inflationary." Venezuela had inflation of 2,959% in 2020. That pandemic inflation is down from 9,589% in 2019 and 130,060% in 2018.
Wendy's also began excluding Argentina from its financials under that inflation policy in 2018.
The IMF predicts Venezuela's inflation rate will be 6,500% in 2021.