Officers from several security bodies entered the Cota 905 area of Caracas in force early this morning to retrieve stolen vehicles and exert their presence in the area. The operation- part of a larger security deployment called Operativo Liberacion de Patria [Operation Homeland Liberation] – has left at least 14 dead and over 134 arrested since the start of the day.
Around 200 officers from the Policia Nacional Bolivariana [National Bolivarian Police] (NBP), Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional [National Bolivarian Intelligence Service] (SEBIN) and Grupo Antiextorsion y Secuestro [Anti-Extortion and Kidnapping Group] (GAES) participated in the raid.
Operation Homeland Liberation has been in effect for roughly 48 hours now, with the raid on the Cota 905 today being the single largest security force action so far. Security forces began their push into the area at around 4:00 AM this morning, and had managed to retrieve 15 stolen vehicles as of 10:30 AM.
Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, the Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace, spoke on the operation, saying that the criminal gangs operating in the area have “direct links to Colombian paramilitaries”, and said:
We need [the public’s] help to stop perverse organizations from penetrating [Venezuela] (…) we cannot allow foreign elements to make crime in our country worse.
The Cota 905 has seen more violence in recent weeks. On June 22 of this year, a police vehicle driving through the area was attacked, leaving two officers injured. The officers’ patrol car was burned and took more than twelve hours to retrieve given the presence of criminal elements in the area.
Below, some pictures from the raid:
Gov’t Restructures Food Industry
Gaceta Oficial 40.690, effective June 26 of this year, has restructured the way the Ministry of Nutrition administers the 293 companies under its control. According to the Gaceta Oficial, the companies will be restructured into 14 conglomerates, which the government hopes will serve to fight “against hoarding and speculation”.
The Gaceta Oficial, which is the means by which the Venezuelan government announces news laws, explains the purpose of the conglomerates in the following way:
Among their functions are the implementation of policies, supervising production, evaluating raw material requirements, and coordinating productive links with the private sector.
The new conglomerates (and the number of companies within each one) are:
- Oil and Grease Conglomerate (9 companies)
- Rice Conglomerate (17 companies)
- Meat Conglomerate (29 companies)
- Poultry Conglomerate (8 companies)
- Fish Conglomerate (38 companies)
- Balanced Animal Feed Conglomerate (9 companies)
- CORPOPDMERCAL [listed as “As an indirect structure of the PDMERCALITOS]
- Dairy, Musacea and Fruit Conglomerate (45 companies)
- Silo Conglomerate (45 companies)
- Transport Conglomerate (6 companies)
- Storage and Refrigeration Conglomerate (36 companies)
- Packaging Conglomerate (18 companies)
- Corn Flour Conglomerate (15 companies)
- Mixed Conglomerate (10 companies)
Critic Says Problem Deeper than Organizational Structure
Tomas Socias, an agricultural/industrial analyst, told El Nacional that instead of organizational restructuring, what the country’s food producing industry needs the most is dollars for importing raw materials.
Socias also criticized the leadership of some of the state-run food producing industries, saying:
The military [officers] who hold the top offices in some of these companies do not have experience in the field, and the result has been a decrease in production.
Moreover, Socias predicted that the creation of conglomerates will only serve to worsen the scarcity crisis, as the restructuring is bound to slow down the productive apparatus as it is implemented.
Scarcity continued to plague Venezuela. Even Caracas, which had historically avoided some of the shortages that affected other parts of the country, is seeing fewer and fewer products on store shelves. A study conducted Datanalisis showed that basic necessities were scarce 60.7% of the time in the city’s supermarkets in May.
Dairy Workers Call on Gov’t To Address Costs
The Camara Venezolana de las Industreas Lacteas [CAVILAC] hopes to reach an agreement with the national government this week to address risings costs which are making it increasingly difficult for the industry to operate.
In Venezuela, the price of basic necessities – such as dairy products – are set by the government. When the government sets the price for a product, producers must sell it for that price, regardless of how much it actually took to produce the product. The price of powdered milk, for example, is set at Bs. 70 per kilogram.
Roger Figueroa, an executive with CAVILAC, explained:
CASA [the Corporacion de Abastecimientos y Servicios Agricolas] sells us milk for Bs. 38, and we have to package it, transport it and pay fixed costs… [the Bs. 70 set price] is not enough because packaging, direct costs and transportation [costs] have risen considerably.
Ledezma Worried About December 6 Elections; Calls for Unity
Mitzy Ledezma, Antonio Ledezma’s wife, has revealed that her husband – who is currently under house arrest following a surgical procedure – is worried about the opposition’s
Mitzy Ledezma said:
One of the worries Antonio has is that [he wants] the spirit of unity to prevail over the natural differences that exist within the MUD. Because of this, in his name, I’m sending out this message so that we can confirm that offer to the fighting men and women as soon as possible, and to the youth who will not kneel, who are an example of this struggle that we’re facing in Venezuela for everyone in the world who is following this.
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) is currently debating how to present its candidates at the December 6 parliamentary elections. While it appears as if some level of unity has been reached among the different parties that make up the MUD, some questions over details remain. As the head of the Voluntad Popular party, Freddy Guevara, explains:
[The MUD will use a unified ballot], there’s no doubt about that… if it’s the only ballot or not, that has yet to be decided. Today we know that the ballot used will at least be like as it was during the Henrique Capriles election against Hugo Chavez [in 2012], when we used the MUD [ballot] but there were also others for other parties.
Guevara believes that while using a unified ballot may seem like common sense, doing so risks alienating voters who do not support the PSUV, but who also do not identify with the MUD.
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