Report: Venezuela’s Socialist Food Aid Features ‘Yellow’ Milk, Bug-Infested Rice

Local activists in Venezuela denounced the socialist regime this week for providing rotting milk and insect-ridden dry foods to its starving citizens through a food aid program condemned in the past for favoring allies of dictator Nicolás Maduro.

Maduro announced the creation of the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP) in June 2016. The CLAPs would distribute much-needed food aid to their neighborhoods but were free to distribute the food packages as they chose, leaving anyone known to participate in anti-government protests without their supplies.

In addition to the controversy surrounding who receives the CLAP packages, local officials have been arrested for keeping packages for themselves and selling them on the black market, and their presence in starving communities has triggered a wave of looting.

El Nacional, a Venezuelan newspaper, reported this week that the local Ocumare Foundation for Development (FundaOcumare) revealed the CLAP packages may not be edible at all. The president of the foundation, Jean Carlos Rodríguez, told the newspaper that he had documented CLAP packages featuring rice teeming with weevils and expired, “yellow-ish” milk. The packages arrived in this lamentable state to the neighborhood on February 22, he noted, adding that nearby neighborhoods had complained of the same problem.

Rodríguez added that other CLAP packages arrived with edible products, but were missing key items the government promised to deliver like beans, pasta, flour, and sugar.

Venezuela al Día adds, also citing Rodríguez, that the CLAP packages also often arrive from the federal government late or not at all. While scheduled to arrive twice a month, local officials can be waiting up to six months for the food aid.

Former Venezuelan Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz accused the government in February of procuring much of this food through corrupt means, such as cutting bribery deals with international businessmen. Ortega noted that much of the food coming in for CLAP packages “puts the health of Venezuelans at risk because many of the CLAP products do not meet the requirements for human consumption,” according to the Miami Herald.

The federal government announced the creation of an email “hotline” for residents to complain if their CLAP packages are unsatisfactory this week. Freddy Bernal, the socialist minister of urban agriculture, boasted on Twitter not of the CLAP packages but of confiscating edible food from Colombia, claiming officials had stopped its clandestine sales. The focus on taking food away from markets, particularly in the border state of Táchira, over ensuring that more Venezuelans can eat is among the many factors contributing to a mass exodus of Venezuelans flooding Colombia and Brazil.

Venezuela’s socialist regime has rejected all international aid. On his television program Tuesday, United Socialist Party (PSUV) second-in-command Diosdado Cabello reiterated his regime’s commitment to ensuring that Venezuelans do not receive humanitarian aid.

“We are not asking anybody for help,” Cabello declared, insisting that the United States end its “economic war” and its “colonization” of Puerto Rico.

The Trump administration has enacted a series of sanctions targeting high-ranking Venezuelan officials, banning them from the United States and Americans from doing business with them. Washington has also banned the purchase of Venezuelan state oil corporation debt, citing the use of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to enrich the Maduro regime and arm its military, which primarily targets unarmed protesters.

The latest report on the quality of CLAP food is far from the only complaint online about the program. For months, videos have surfaced on social media allegedly showing the meager quality of these products.

Despite their renowned poor quality, CLAP packages have triggered violence and crime, the government notes. On television last month, Maduro claimed that unidentified “sons of their mothers” had stolen one million CLAP packages. Opposition journalists mocked the announcement. Nelson Bocaranda, who runs the news site Runrunes, questioned that such a move could be possible without extreme corruption. “What is the necessary space, logistical planning, military and police protection necessary to get away with one million boxes?” he asked. “No one arrested, nobody responsible, no minister deposed, no concern on the part of the prosecutor general … incredible that this red government’s pilfering could be so transparent and protected.”

Beyond the more suspect crimes involving the CLAP aid, a local news report has documented at least one killing of socialist neighborhood officials in order to steal their food packages. On one such occasion, individuals reportedly killed four members of the local CLAP and distributed the aid, along with some cash stolen from their homes, to locals for free.

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