Article updated: 12/9/2012 6:28 AM

Venezuela chocolate king thrives despite controls

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Grower Pablo Planchar, center, and workers gather the pulp and seeds they scooped from cacao pods into sacks, at a cacao plantation in Cano Rico, Venezuela. Cacao pods that ripen in the forest-shaded plantations of Venezuela are transformed into some of the world's finest chocolate.

Associated Press/November 2012

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Jorge Redmond, owner of Chocolates El Rey, speaks during an interview in Caracas, Venezuela. As the company has won international acclaim, it has also had to cope with a host of obstacles brought on by President Hugo Chavez's government. El Rey used to go through just four bureaucratic steps to export a shipment. Now the list of requirements has grown to more than 50.

Associated Press/November 2012

A worker shows a handful of dried cacao seeds at a cacao plantation in Cano Rico, Venezuela.

Associated Press/November 2012

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Cacao pods ripen to colors from bright yellow to crimson in the forest-shaded plantations of Venezuela, where some of the world's finest chocolate is born. The crop is transformed into gourmet bars that sell briskly in Venezuela and are exported to the United States, Europe and Japan by the country's premier chocolate maker, Chocolates El Rey, or The King. As the company has won success and international acclaim, though, it has also had to cope with difficulties brought on by President Hugo Chavez's socialist government.
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    • Grower Pablo Planchar, center, and workers gather the pulp and seeds they scooped from cacao pods into sacks, at a cacao plantation in Cano Rico, Venezuela. Cacao pods that ripen in the forest-shaded plantations of Venezuela are transformed into some of the world’s finest chocolate.
    •  Jorge Redmond, owner of Chocolates El Rey, speaks during an interview in Caracas, Venezuela. As the company has won international acclaim, it has also had to cope with a host of obstacles brought on by President Hugo Chavez’s government. El Rey used to go through just four bureaucratic steps to export a shipment. Now the list of requirements has grown to more than 50.
    •  A worker shows a handful of dried cacao seeds at a cacao plantation in Cano Rico, Venezuela.
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