CARACAS, Venezuela (Oct. 5, 2000) — Officials of Bridgestone/Firestone Venezuela failed to show up at a meeting with 50 crash victims and officials from Ford Venezuela and INDECU, the Venezuelan consumer protection agency, to discuss compensation for the victims.
Reuters quoted Hector Rodriguez, Ford Venezuela manager of purchasing, as saying BFS was trying to dodge its responsibility in the matter. BFS spokespersons said they were drafting responses to the events in Venezuela.
In a prepared statement, BFS said: "We want to know as badly as the Venezuelan government and their people what caused accidents involving Ford Explorer vehicles.... The meeting, as it had originally been explained to us by INDECU, changed dramatically into an event that we felt would not be helpful in our aim to listen to the families and respond to their concerns. ... We feel that meeting individually with the families of those affected by this situation is the most productive way for us to fully understand their concerns."
INDECU has identified 104 victims of accidents involving Firestone tires on Ford Explorers and other vehicles. Ford began replacing Firestone tires on those vehicles in May, and Bridgestone/Firestone has agreed to replace up to 62,000 Wilderness tires that were mismarked as having an extra nylon ply.