Venezuelans starve as military eats into food

Updated: Dec 29, 2016, 09:44 IST | Agencies

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

In this February 2004 photo, the military creates a perimeter at a government-subsidised food market in Caracas, Venezuela. Pic/AFP
In this February 2004 photo, the military creates a perimeter at a government-subsidised food market in Caracas, Venezuela. Pic/AFP

Puerto Cabello: 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. But instead of fighting hunger, the military is making money from it, an Associated Press investigation shows.

With much of the country on the verge of starvation and billions of dollars at stake, food trafficking has become one of the biggest businesses in Venezuela, the AP found. And from generals to foot soldiers, the military is at the heart of the graft, according to documents and interviews with more than 60 officials, business owners and workers, including five former generals.

As a result, food is not reaching those who most need it. The US government has taken notice.

Prosecutors have opened investigations against senior Venezuelan officials, including members of the military, for laundering riches from food contracts through the US financial system, according to four people with direct knowledge of the probes. No charges have been brought.

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