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Feliz Año Nuevo, Venezuela

December 28, 2016

I wish I could say this news was a surprise. But I can’t and I doubt many others can either.

Venezuela military trafficking food as people go hungry

Puerto Cabello, Venezuela — When hunger drew tens of thousands of Venezuelans to the streets last summer in protest, 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. That’s what grocer Jose Campos found when he ran out of pantry staples this year. In the middle of the night, he would travel to an illegal market run by the military to buy corn flour — at 100 times the government-set price.

“The military would be watching over whole bags of money,” Campos said. “They always had what I needed.”

With much of the oil country on the verge of starvation and malnourished children dying in pediatric wards, food trafficking has become big business in Venezuela. And the military is at the heart of the graft, according to documents and interviews with more than 60 officials, company owners and workers, including five former generals.

As a result, food is not reaching those who most need it. […]

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