The Maduro regime has formally responded to a Mexican police investigation that dismantled a corruption ring with links to Venezuela, calling the arrests a direct attack on the Bolivarian Revolution.
Earlier this week, Mexican authorities announced that they had uncovered a corruption operation involving Venezuela’s CLAP system, a subsidized food program that is supposed to provide Venezuelans with boxes of basic necessities like cooking oil and corn flour at affordable prices.
The authorities claim that the network, which included Mexican and Venezuelan individuals, conspired to provide poor-quality products for the boxes in order to cut costs, and then sell them for an average of 112% above their actual price.
The Mexican government claims that the operation involved between nine and 14 shell companies registered in that country, through which the corrupt dealings were facilitated.
Alonso Lira, a Mexican official who specializes in organized crime, said during a press conference:
This group has obtained Venezuelan public funds [and] diverted them from their humanitarian ends to buy food and speculate on the market, taking advantage of the food shortages affecting Venezuela.
It is not immediately clear how many individuals were identified in the probe.
The Maduro regime reacted to news of the arrest through a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, part of which reads:
We consider this abuse against Mexican business people one more of the multiple attempts to obstruct the valiant efforts of the Bolivarian Government to defeat the economic war against our People [sic], in order to sidestep the brutal economic and financial blockade that imperial powers and their satellite governments have tried to impose illegally against our Homeland [sic].
CLAP Corruption Uncovered Earlier This Year
Armando.Info, a Venezuelan investigative journalism site, uncovered malfeasance at the state-run subsidized food system earlier this year.
In an article published in February of this year, Armando.Info revealed that the powdered milk in the boxes was hardly nutritious, severely lacking in both calcium and protein but cholk-full of sodium and carbohydrates.
And, in an article published in September, the site tracked the movements of the sole company in charge of the CLAP system–Group Grand Limited–as it shifted its offices from Mexico, then Hong Kong, and then Turkey. The article outlines a complicated network of financing and investments that pump tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of private individuals, and possibly president Maduro himself.
Armando.Info was banned from publishing any more investigations into the CLAP system in September by an administrative order from the Maduro regime. A year earlier, a Venezuela court had banned the website from reporting on the activities of Alex Nain Saab, the head of Grand Group Limited and a key vector in the CLAP corruption.
Under the threat of arrest, the website’s four founders now live in exile.
Public Sector Worker Arrested After Egg Protest Video
EDIT: Approximately five hours after I published this update, I read that the man in the egg protest video below was in fact not arrested or fired from his job. The man’s name is Omar Rondon. It appears that he contacted El Pitazo after reading news about his arrest/firing. Rondon told El Pitazo:
Everything is fine. What’s circulating on social media about my arrest is a lie. [The story that] I was fired is also a lie. I’m still employed (…) I haven’t been threatened by anyone; not by my colleagues, nor my union leaders, nor the upper management of the company, nor the police.
I’m crossing out the parts of the update below to reflect the fact that Rondon was not arrested or fired, but I’m leaving up the video and translation of his protest.
An employee with the state-owned SIDOR steel company has been arrested after he appeared in a viral video complaining about the eggs that he had received from his employer in lieu of payment. The worker, whose name has not been made public, was also fired from the company .
The video first appeared on Twitter on October 18, and shows the man, upset, throwing eggs on the ground as he voices his opinion and Maduro and his regime.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Man: Before I start, I want to ask God for forgiveness.
I haven’t earned this. This [the eggs] is a fraud. This one’s for the President of the Republic, who wants to take our benefits and vacation time from us and our collective bargaining agreements, you can stick one of these eggs above and one below [this is an expression that roughly means, “Stick them up your ass”].
To the governor of Bolivar state, what you’ve done to our benefits and your collective bargaining agreements is a fraud to the workers [who’ve worked] for more than forty years. Stick this where it’ll fit.
To the traitors, the Judases who sold SIDOR…
SIDOR workers have been protesting for 45 days against attacks on their collective bargaining agreement by the Maduro regime, and against a new set of salary guidelines that will not help the workers meet even their most basic necessities.
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