Military trafficking subsidized food as Venezuelans go hungry – report
CARACAS – The Venezuelan military is capitalizing on the misery of the people by running illegal markets that sell food at 100 times the government regulated price while much of the South American country is going hungry, the Associated Press (AP) has reported.
“Lately, food is a better business than drugs,” retired Venezuelan General Cliver Alcala told the AP. “The military is in charge of food management now, and they’re not going to just take that on without getting their cut.”
Breitbart News also reports that some military officials in charge of food distribution are becoming millionaires, with their riches measured in American dollars, at the expense of starving Venezuelans.
While President Nicolas Maduro has appointed military officials as food distributors and appears to be aware of the food smuggling problem, his followers support his claim that the real culprits behind the food crisis are right-wing businessmen trying to bring down the already ruined socialist economy.
The AP nevertheless found that food trafficking has grown into a rampant and lucrative business in the hunger-ravaged socialist country with military personnel ranging from generals to foot soldiers at the heart of the graft.
“When hunger drew tens of thousands of Venezuelans to the streets in protest last summer, President Nicolas Maduro turned to the military to manage the country’s diminished food supply, putting generals in charge of everything from butter to rice,” the news agency reported.
Instead of fighting hunger, however, the military is reportedly profiteering from it and the hungry population’s access to food has reportedly been drastically cut.
The military connection with food distribution dates back to 2004 when, after opposition attempts to overthrow him, the late President Hugo Chavez began handing the military control over the food industry, creating a Food Ministry.
His socialist-run government nationalized farms and food processing plants, then reportedly neglected them, and domestic production dried up.
The oil rich country became dependent on food imports, but when the price of oil crashed in 2014, the government could no longer afford to meet the demand.
Food shortages became so severe that Venezuelans spent all day waiting in lines and formerly middle-class adults were said to have begun scavenging garbage bins for scraps.