Documents surfaced today linking former Minister of Nutrition Carlos Osorio to suspicious payments worth $5.85 million dollars to a shell company registered in Panama to his two brothers-in-law. Osorio, who holds the rank of General in the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, was once the head of the state-owned PDVAL distribution and supermarket chain, and was the Minister of Nutrition from 2010-2013, and then again from 2015-2016. He is currently the head of army’s Central Regional Command.
According to the documents, Osorio’s in-laws – Jesus Tomas Maquina Parra and Nestor Enrique Marquina Parra – own a shell company named Viltas Company S.A. registered in Panama. Between December 2012 and June 2013, the company received eight payments totaling $5.85 million from another shell company named JA Comercio de Generos Alimenticios. That company is registered to Naman Wakil, whose suspicious dealings involving shell companies and corruption are detailed in a 2015 book called El Gran Saqueo [The Great Looting].
The book details how a company registered to Wakil once received a payment of $12.79 million from the Venezuelan government allegedly for the purchase of lunch meat from Brazil. A bank in Curacao that was handling the transaction blocked it because it considered it suspicious.
Wakil’s payments to Viltas Company S.A. include a transfer of $2 million on January 9, 2013, which was paid in cash. In total, at least five transactions of $500,000 were made in cash from Wakil’s company to Osorio’s in-laws, with another single transaction worth $1 million also paid in cash.
None of the documents provide a clear description of what the money was for beyond a vague description: “logistical services, customs paperwork, shipping and licenses”.
The documents in question can be found here, in Spanish.
In Zulia, Carton of Eggs Costs 20% of Monthly Wage
La Verdad reported today that the price for a carton of thirty eggs rose recently to Bs. 2,400. Since a Venezuelan worker earning minimum wage earns Bs. 11,577.81 per month, the cost for eggs represents approximately 20% of an entire month’s earnings.
According to the newspaper, at least some residents of Maracaibo are going to extreme lengths to try to find eggs at a cheaper price. A resident named Maria Otero woke up in the early overnight hours yesterday and camped outside a local supermarket with the hopes of finding reasonable egg prices there. Otero said:
I spent the night at a store that still sells them for Bs. 1,800 (…) Everything is expensive.
Otero told La Verdad that she has a small business baking cakes in order to help the family earn income on the side.
Thirteen States Spend Morning Without Power
At least thirteen states suffered an electrical blackout today from around 10:00 AM til noon. The affected states were Anzoategui, Aragua, Carabobo, Falcon, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Tachira, Vargas and Yaracuy.
El Nacional reports that at least one state – Miranda – has been experiencing sporadic blackouts for the last 24 hours. The most affected areas in that state are Valles del Tuy, Charallave, Cua, Nueva Cua, Salamanca de Yare, and Ocumare y Santa Teresa del Tuy.
Maduro: April 19 is “Day Against Imperialism”
At an event commemorating the 206th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Maduro spoke on the meaning of the day to the crowd that gathered to celebrate in Caracas’ Plaza Bolivar.
Describing the importance of the event, Maduro said:
[April 19, 1810] was the first step towards building dignity, independence and true sovereignty for the people of Venezuela, [who then] began to walk on their own.
On what the significance of the date means for today’s Venezuela, Maduro said:
Today is a day against imperialism, [a day for] the independence of liberty. This day belongs to the people. It’s not a day for the oligarchies: it’s a day for a rebellious people, a people [who] stand [on their own]. Today is the day of Chavez’s people, of Bolivar’s people.
Maduro’s Popularity Rating Sinks to 15%
A trio of surveys by Delphos, Gente de Mercado and DatinCorp has found that Maduro’s approval rating has sunk to a new low: only 15% of Venezuelans approve of the job he is doing leading the country. Felix Seijas, the head of Delphos, explained one of the reasons for the number:
[The 15%] are loyal to the revolution, and they stick to Maduro because, at this moment, he symbolizes Chavez’s legacy.
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