Polar Enterprises, the country’s largest private company and largest private food supplier, revealed today that 12% of all the food items that it produces go directly to the Comites Locales de Abastecimiento [Local Supply Committees] (CLAP), a government-operated network of community groups that distribute subsidized food door-to-door.
The CLAP distribution system is the foundation of Maduro’s plan to defeat the so-called “economic war” which he claims Venezuela’s enemies are waging against the country.
The figure was revealed during a press conference by Manuel Felipe Larrazabal, the director of Polar’s food production department. Larrazabal pointed out that even though Polar is playing its role in helping deliver food to Venezuelans, it still faces extreme difficulty convincing the national government to allow it to exchange Bolivares for US Dollars in order to import food and raw materials into the country.
[Margarine] and ketchup production has been interrupted due to the lack of raw material. We’ve received reports that other companies have had access to foreign currency so that they can produce all of their food products, [and the fact that Polar hasn’t] is discriminatory against the company and its workers.
Larrazabal also explained that food production at Polar fell by 30% over the past eight months due to a severe lack of raw materials. Between July and August, the production of rice fell by 29 million kilograms, that of pasta fell by 11 million kilograms, and that of corn flour fell by 40 million kilograms.
At the same press conference, Larrazabal presented a proposal that – if accepted by the national government – he claims could increase food production at Polar by 67% within 45 days. The proposal relies heavily on the national government finally giving Polar access to foreign currency for imports.
Maduro and other high-ranking PSUV officials often blame Polar and its head, Lorenzo Mendoza, for the country’s food scarcity crisis. They argue that Polar is deliberately slowing down production, hoarding products or otherwise sabotaging the delivery of its own products to supermarkets in order to precipitate a coup d’etat against the Bolivarian government.
Hinterlaces: 66% of Venezuelans Have Yet to Benefit from CLAP
Despite being the most important facet of Maduro’s plan for combating the scarcity crisis, the CLAP appears to be a non-factor for a majority of Venezuelans. Even though the system of food distribution was launched back in February, the Hinterlaces polling firm released a study today suggesting that 66% of Venezuelans have yet to benefit from the system.
The same poll found that despite the program’s disappointing effectiveness, 55% of Venezuelans agree with its goals. However, only 33% consider the CLAP system to be “very effective”, a figure that corresponds to the 34% who said that they had benefited from the system.
The CLAP is a pillar of the Gran Mision Abastecimiento Seguro [Great Sure-Supply Mission], a government initiative launched earlier this year to fight the scarcity crisis. However, Hinterlaces found that the national government could do a better job of clearly explaining what the Gran Mision actually entails, since 47% of respondents said that they had not been well informed about the initiative.
MUD: CNE 117 Days Behind Schedule with Recall Referendum
Vicente Bello, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) representative at the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), spoke in a radio interview on Union Radio today and pointed out the fact that the CNE is 117 days behind its own schedule on the recall referendum against Maduro.
According to our count, the CNE is involved in [“leguleyas” – literally, “the tactics of a bad layer, but I’m translating it as “illegal”] illegal bureaucratic maneuvers. They’ve delayed organizing the recall referendum by 117 days. That’s practically three months… more than three months.
Bello also said that because the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) is so evidently under the control of Maduro’s office, the top court could not be trusted to do the legal thing if it ever came to a legal showdown between the MUD and the CNE over the recall.
For Bello, the answer to both the CNE and the TSJ refusing to allow the recall referendum to happen is simple:
The only thing we Venezuelans have left is protest.
The MUD has called for mobilizations to the CNE’s regional offices on September 16, similar to action it took last week.
Cabello: National Assembly “Doesn’t Exist For Us”
National Assembly deputy and PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello said today that as far as the Maduro government and the PSUV are concerned, the opposition-controlled National Assembly “does not exist”.
For us, the National Assembly doesn’t exist. It’s an institution that is just there because it says so in the Constitution, but it’s a zero a la izquierda [literally, “a zero to the left”, meaning a superfluous thing that has no meaning or importance]. It does absolutely nothing for this country.
He also suggested that the MUD was not actually a legitimate opposition movement because it is trying to replace Maduro through “non-constitutional means”, but he did not provide any concrete examples of what he meant by this.
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