Opposition leader: Venezuelan govn't has a strict control over food items
Julio Borges, a candidate to the National Assembly for the state of Miranda, insisted on June 21 that the Venezuelan government must take responsibility for the discovery of containers with rotten food. The government should not try to transfer the responsibility to the private sector, the opposition leader added.
Borges said in an interview with Venezuelan radio station Unión Radio that the government is responsible for the case of rotten food because it created the Integral System of Agrifood Control (SICA), a supervision system that monitors all the stages of food imports and production in Venezuela.
Venezuelan authorities aware of spoiled food cases since 2008
Since 2008, Venezuelan authorities were aware of complaints about spoiled food in government-run food distribution network Mercados de Alimentos (Mercal), but the information was disclosed only in June 2010. In fact, in 2008 local authorities discarded 471.22 kilos of spoiled food in Los Mangos, a low-income neighborhood in Caracas, as they were unfit for human consumption.
According to a report prepared by the Control Quality Management, Mercal in Los Mangos neighborhood, the fact was recorded in a document dated June 30, 2008. The report was forwarded to then coordinator of food distribution network Mercal in Caracas Metropolitan District.
According to the document, the merchandise was spoiled due to damaged packaging and bacteriological contamination.
Catholic Church views loss of foodstuffs alarming
The president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Association (CEV) Ubaldo Santana labeled on June 21 as "alarming and worrisome" the loss of tons of imported food stored in several ports throughout the nation.
"While in our houses, we struggle to tighten our budgets and someone else cannot afford buying food and should resort to those popular networks, huge amounts of food are lost and nobody is held accountable," Santana lamented.
The food was found two weeks ago stored in Puerto Cabello, a major port located on the central coast. The expired food, estimated at more than 70,000 tons, is part of the imports made by Pdval, a food retail chain ascribed to state-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa), DPA quoted.
Bishops urge government to conduct "diligent" investigation into spoiled food case
The leaders of the Venezuelan Catholic Church urged on June 22 top government officials to conduct a "thorough and diligent" investigation into the discovery of rotten food and expired medicines in several states.
In a statement, the presidency of the Venezuelan Bishops' Association (CEV) asked Venezuelan authorities to act in a strong and transparent way when processing complaints and conducting investigations. The CEV also urged the government to prevent recurrence of such facts.
The bishops said that the issue of spoiled food and expired medicines and medical supplies underlines the "moral deterioration of the government agencies" related to the distribution of goods.
Spanish newspaper El País reports on spoiled food in Venezuela
Under the headline "Something is rotten in Venezuela," Spanish newspaper El País published an article about the case of thousand tons of spoiled food that were to be sold in the network of socialist markets created by the Venezuelan government
The case of rotten food found in warehouses of state-run food retail network Pdval has made the headlines in Spain. "Something is rotten in Venezuela" is the title of a special article Spanish newspaper El País published on the issue, including statements from both people who have endured the smell of rotting foodstuffs and government spokespersons.
"It stank like 100 dead dogs," Dayana Reyes told El País, referring to the stench coming from Puerto Cabello seaport due to several thousand tons of rotten meat.
In April 2009, she was told that the smell came from 50 food containers belonging to food distribution network Productora y Distribuidora Venezolana de Alimentos (Pdval), a subsidiary of state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa). But the issue came to light and became a scandal in Venezuela only a few weeks ago, when hundreds of containers full of rotten food began to appear.
Bishops term "sin" scandal of rotten food in Venezuela
The leaders of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference (CEV) said that the scandal related to thousand tons of spoiled food in several ports of the country is "a sin that Heaven is crying over," and therefore they urged authorities to punish people involved in this case and take the necessary measures to prevent this from happening again.
In a statement, bishops Ubaldo Santana (Maracaibo), Baltazar Porras (Mérida), Roberto Luckert (Coro) and Jesús González (Caracas) said that this case "underlines the moral deterioration of the government agencies" in charge of food imports and distribution.
Based on an article published last June 20 by daily newspaper El Universal, the 122,000 tons of rotten food found so far in Venezuela could have been used to feed 17 million Venezuelans, which are more than half the population of the country, for a month.
According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), by the end of 2009, 24.20 percent of Venezuelans were under the poverty line.
So far, only three people have been arrested in connection with this case: Luis Pulido, who was the president of state-run food distribution network Pdval until September 2009; Romel Flores, Pdval's general manager and Dilesca Betancourt, executive director of Operations and Logistics.
Comptroller General vows to disqualify other people for public office
Comptroller Russián said that his agency would impose the appropriate penalties to those found responsible for the case of rotten food which his office has investigated since 2008.
Venezuela's Comptroller General accused the opposition of "creating a scandal" with the topic of spoiled food containers in order to capitalize the issue on the upcoming election. He said that his agency will investigate the distribution activities of the state-run food storage, distribution and wholesale network Mercal since 2008.
"When elections are held, (the opposition) provokes a scandal, such as the one with the problem of food. We have been investigating the case since 2008," the Comptroller General said in the state-run TV network Venezolana de Televisión.
Russián said that the Comptroller General's Office will impose the corresponding penalties. He also defended the political disqualifications imposed during his tenure.
Venezuelan governor thinks that milk shipment has melamine
Governor of the state of Anzoátegui and member of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Tarek William Saab, did not provide details about a shipment of contaminated milk stored since last year at the headquarters of the Cryogenic Complex located at the Jose industrial zone, in the eastern Venezuela state. However, this week he acknowledged that the product was thrown away in the oil facilities because it had entered the country with a substance unfit for human consumption.
"This is old news," Saab. "A shipment of spoiled milk with a compound called melamine arrived (in a Venezuelan port). However, it is not true that containers with expired food were found."
The governor said that Venezuela's Attorney General Office filed a lawsuit against a Chinese company that sent the food to Venezuela.
Chávez appoints new president of state-run food distributor
Carlos Osorio was appointed as the new president of the Venezuelan Food Producer and Distributor (Pdval), as reported in the Official Gazette.
The National Superintendent of Silos, Warehouse and Agricultural Storage (SADA), Carlos Osorio, will head the business corporation Productora y Distribuidora Venezolana de Alimentos, S.A. (Pdval), replacing Virginia Mares.
Amidst a scandal related to thousand tons of rotten food, state-run food distribution network (Pdval), was attached to the Vice President's Office.
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."