Francisco Valencia, the head of the Coalicion de Organizaciones por el Derecho a la Salud y a la Vida (CODEVIDA), a Venezuelan healthcare-centered NGO, said today that a staggering 87% of Venezuelans live in poverty, while 61% live in extreme poverty.

Valencia revealed the figures during a presentation organized by Human Rights Watch which took place to coincide with the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is taking place this week.

Citing figures complied by Caritas and the Pan-American Health Organization, Valencia also said that 55% of Venezuelan children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition.

Eduardo Trujillo, a representative from the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello who spoke alongside Trujillo, said that food scarcity millions of Venezuelans. He said:

More than eight million Venezuelans only eat two times per day or less, and what they do eat is not nutritious. On average, Venezuelans lost 11 kilograms just in 2017.

Cabello Reacts to Haley Accusations

PSUV vice president and Constituent Assembly chief Diosdado Cabello reacted last night to the accusations levied against him by United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at a meeting of the UN’s Security Council on Monday.

During the meeting, Haley accused Cabello of being an active drug trafficker, and of “eliminating” competitors who threatened his business. 

Speaking during his weekly television show last night, Cabello suggested that Haley was simply carrying out a character assassination on behalf of her bosses in Washington, and that pointed out that she had no evidence to back up any of her claims. Cabello said:

Just as her predecessors, she does not present even one bit of evidence, not even the smallest hint of evidence, to back up what she says. She’s reading whatever she says. They give it to her to read. 

Haley’s comments echo accusations against Cabello that have been lingering in the media since 2015, which center on an alleged investigation by U.S. authorities against Cabello’s alleged connections to drug trafficking operations in the region.

Cabello also said that Haley’s accusations are part of a larger campaign to “demoralize” Venezuelans into abandoning the Bolivarian revolution. He explained:

This has to do with looking to demoralize [Venezuelans], because imperialism is arrogant. This woman is one example of arrogance. She thinks that by disappearing Diosdado this will end, or that by disappearing Nicolas [Maduro] this will end.

Tellingly, Cabello said that “they disappeared Hugo Chavez” in an apparent wink to unfounded conspiracy theories that the late leader was assassinated, presumably by the United States and/or its interests. 

Andorra Moves Ahead with PDVSA Corruption Trial

A court in Andorra is moving ahead with a trial involving corruption to the tune of  €2 billion, which were allegedly stolen from the state-owned PDVSA oil company through a complex money laundering network.

The case involves 28 accused, whom the court alleges stole the money from PDVSA coffers between 2007 and 2012. Among them are former high-ranking members of the Chavez government, including former energy vice-ministers Nervis Villalobos and Javier Alvarado. 

Diego Salazar, the cousin of former PDVSA chief Rafael Ramirez, is also accused of participating in the corruption

Prosecutors allege that the corruption scheme also involved money acquired through bribery, which companies paid PDVSA in order to gain access to contracts. According to El Pais:

To avoid raising suspicions, the group camouflaged its multi-millionaire gains under the umbrella of advisory work which–according to investigators–did not exist. 

According to the National Assembly, Chavez and Maduro regime officials have stolen approximately $50 billion from PDVSA, while corruption at other government branches and enterprises could amount to as many as $400 billion.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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