Antonio Pestana, the president of the Confederacion de Asociaciones de Productores Agropecuarios [Confederation of Association of Agricultural Producers] (FEDEAGRO), gave an interview to Union Radio today in which he chastised the national government for failing to come to the aid of Venezuelan food producers. Pestana said;
It’s unbelievable that in a moment when it’s hard to find food, the national government hasn’t reacted through any of its ministries. We don’t have the resources to produce food. We’re not magicians.
Pestana explained that Venezuelan coffee production has been “devastated” by the government’s inability or refusal to import a Colombian agricultural chemical desperately needed to guarantee production of the crop. He also explained that corn yields for the year are already looking dim since the industry has not yet received seeds:
If we’re talking about corn seeds, we negotiate for them in August so that by December we can already have the required foreign currency papers, but as of today – January 12 – [the government] has yet to sit down with the industry to talk about which seed it is that will enter the country.
Fertilizers are in a similar limbo, as Pestana explained that they are currently in the possession of the Public Ministry on account of expired documentation.
16 Detained in Food Line Unrest
At least 16 people were detained over the weekend for protesting the long line ups they were being forced to endure in order buy basic necessities. Alfredo Romero of the Foro Penal Venezolano explained:
There were 16 detentions. However, a few of them were immediately released (…) There’s no confirmation of anyone else being detained, at least in Caracas.
According to La Patilla, the protesters were detained for taking pictures of the lines, carrying protest signs, and voicing their discontent.
Maduro: Qatar Banks Will “Give us Oxygen”
Maduro continued his world tour in Qatar today, where he met with high-ranking government officials there. After making a vague announcement yesterday regarding an alleged deal with Saudi Arabia to bring oil prices back up, Maduro made a similarly nebulous statement today regarding his visit to Qatar:
We are cementing a financial alliance with various banks in Qatar. Practically speaking, they’re giving us enough oxygen to cover the fall in oil prices and to have the resources necessary to cover the national budget of foreign currency for the investments and exports that the country needs.
He also said that the “financial alliance” was worth billions of dollars and would last into 2016.
Canadian Passports Stolen in Brazen Raid in Caracas
The Toronto Star is reporting that a truck carrying 61 visa decision papers and passports was robbed of its contents as it travelled through Caracas on November 11, 2014.
The information came to light as part of a report made by the Canadian privacy watchdog into privacy breeches in 2014.