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Clean Corruption: Venezuelan Military Traffics Food in Starving Country

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“It’s like drug trafficking you can carry out in broad daylight”
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theevening / Thinkstock

Under the tenure of the late President Hugo Chavez, domestic production on farms and food processing plants diminished, causing the country to become reliant on food exports.

Last summer, Venezuela’s food supply was put into the hands of its military after thousands of hungry people protested in the streets. According to an Associated Press investigation, instead of helping its starving citizens, the military is making a profit from selling the country’s food supply.

“Lately, food is a better business than drugs,” retired Gen. Cliver Alcala, who helped oversee border security, told AP. "The military is in charge of food management now, and they're not going to just take that on without getting their cut."

The military imports almost all of the food in Venezuela with inflated prices, said Werner Gutierrez, the former dean of the agronomy school at the University of Zulia.

"If Venezuela paid market prices, we'd be able to double our imports and easily satisfy the country's food needs," Gutierrez said. "Instead, people are starving."

Retired Gen. Antonio Rivero said the reasoning behind giving the military control over the food supply was to prevent the soldiers from going hungry and conspiring against President Nicolás Maduro.

"They gave absolute control to the military," Rivero said. "That drained the feeling of rebellion from the armed forces, and allowed them to feed their families."

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However, regular citizens are still left desperate, starving, and at the mercy of the military.