Tuesday February 2nd was a fitting day to take enemy territory and prisoners in the ongoing media and economic war being waged against Venezuela, its government and people. This date, 16 years ago was when President Chávez was first sworn in as President in 1999 after his landslide victory the previous December.
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) held a plenary meeting attended by around 14,000 delegates from all 24 states to plan the strategy for internal elections to postulate candidates for the December elections for the National Assembly (Congress) and to plan strategy to combat the economic war that has been waged by the business sector and property owning bourgeoisie against its own people.
President Maduro spoke in detail about the arrest and occupation of the 167 Farmatodo shops in the country and then went on to describe another important retailer and distributor of food that had been caught participating in the economic war against the people.
The supermarket chain Supermercados Día a Día has 36 hypermarkets up and down the country, located mainly in popular areas. Reports have shown that each day, every day, there were lines outside these outlets as people struggled to find basic products for their families. The directors of the chain had been to Miraflores Palace on at least two occasions to assure the Executive that they were “doing their best” to provide decent service and products to the customers. However, this assertion and demonstration of good will proved to be a well-crafted web of deceit.
When the Minister for Food Sovereignty and Security, Carlos Osorio, accompanied by Caracas Governor Ernesto Villegas, went to inspect the Supermerados Día a Día store in the popular area of La Yaguara in south west Caracas, they discovered the doors closed and a line of about 60 people waiting to be allowed entry to search for the products they needed.
Osorio challenged the duty manager and the people were allowed in to buy their goods. This irregularity led to an inspection of the warehouse and – lo and behold – the authorities discovered more than 2500 tons of food, cleaning and personal hygiene products hoarded there. Some of the corn flour needed to make traditional arepas had the date of being packaged on August 7th 2014 and was still sitting there. In fact, the country’s biggest private producer of food, The Polar Company, had over 1000 tons of products in this warehouse including corn cooking oil, margarine and the fabled corn flour.
President Maduro acted immediately at the plenary meeting and on live TV by ordering National Assembly president, Diosdado Cabello, to supervise the military occupation of these 36 stores and warehouses and to arrest the owners and directors of this company for ”boycott and hoarding” of essential goods.
The owner of this supermarket chain went to Miraflores Palace for a meeting to explain himself to Minister Osorio, accompanied by the President of the National Supermarket Association (ANSA), Luis Rodriguez. Upon leaving the meeting, both were arrested by the Bolivarian Intelligence Services (SEBIN) and held for questioning.
The very same night, in the small hours, Cabello was at the warehouse in question supervising an audit of the products and inspecting the list of suppliers so as to warn them not to “play any funny games” by refusing to deliver products to Supermercados Día a Día now that it was occupied by the military and the Superintendant of Fair prices. The video below is in Spanish but the images speak for themselves in regard to the huge volume of hoarded food discovered.
Beefing up PDVAL
PDVAL is one of the chains of state run grocery stores that sells food at solidarity prices and it was expanded on Monday evening, February 2nd.
A live broadcast was made from a meat wholesaler in Falcon state called Corporación Carnica 2005 CA when the Superintendant of Fair Prices, Andrés Eloy Méndez, uncovered 53,000 kilos of beef, 19,000 kilos of chicken, 11.5 tons of hake past its sell-by date, 2500 truck tires and 63,370 medical supplies such as catheters and stents for cardiovascular procedures which are at a critical level in private clinics in Venezuela.
The tires and the medical supplies were going to be smuggled out of the country to Colombia as they were already in trucks with Colombian plates. The hake was being sold at speculative prices and the sell-by date labels had been removed so as to be able to push this now toxic food into the retail chain at a huge profit. “This fish could cause food poisoning or even death”, stated Méndez.
The beef has been imported at Bs. 60 per kilo using government dollars obtained at Bs.6.3 per dollar and was being sold at Bs. 599 per kilo or 998% speculative profit.
The chicken has been bought at the official wholesale price of Bs. 37 per kilo but instead of selling it at the official price of Bs. 43, it was priced at Bs. 130 per kilo.
The seriousness of these crimes was reflected by the decision to confiscate all the merchandise, the trucks and the warehouse and pass it over to PDVAL for sale and management of the cold store warehouses that had been taken over by the government due to the unbridled greed of these capitalist roadsters who think that they are untouchable.
The following owners and directors of Corporación Carnica 2005 were presented before the judge and held in custody to await trial. These people are stock holder and company treasurer Tania Salinas Rebolledo (28); managers of logistics and distribution, administration, purchasing and marketing Yolman Valderrama (42); Delia Rivas Colina (40); Anllerlin López (28); and Ernesto Arenas (57). These defendants were indicted for boycott, illegal alteration of labeling, conditioning sales, selling food after its sell-by date, hoarding and resisting arrest. The owner, José Fernando de Matos, protested his innocence saying that he did not know that the food was being sold at speculative prices. He was indicted nonetheless. If found guilty, it will certainly mean jail time for all these people. The crime of hoarding carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.
Major retail chains such as Farmatodo and Supermercados Día a Día as well as major distributors such as Herrera CA, busted two weeks ago, are big losses for the bourgeoisie running the economic war against the Venezuelan government and people, backed by dollars from the US and Colombia.
As moneyed owners are locked away for up to 10 years this should have a deterrent effect on other distributors and retail chains engaging in the same criminal activity.
Looking at the kicking and screaming in the opposition ranks trying to defend the undefendable in the case of Farmatodo indicates that the government counter offensive is well underway after falling into the ambush laid by the opposition in early January when chaos, looting and violence could have ensued.
Civic-Military Cooperation from Thursday onwards
After presenting the evidence of Supermercados Día a Día and Corporación Carnica 2005, President Maduro laid out the next component in his strategy to defeat the economic war by the end of the first quarter.
He has appointed military officers and civilian leaders to work together in each of the nation’s 24 states to inspect every supermarket, food outlet, distributor and wholesaler to verify whether or not they are involved in the economic war in any way – this includes speculation.
The more the civilian population sees results of the rich distributors and wholesalers receiving their comeuppance, the more likely they are to cooperate and take time out to report any sort of irregularities to the authorities.
Obviously, not everyone involved can be made an example of; but if some “big fish” are severely and swiftly punished and their assets confiscated, it will make other businessmen think twice before endangering themselves, their livelihood and the security of their families.
This is a war against the Venezuela people and must be waged as such until the traitors to the Homeland have been eked out, defeated and punished.
As María Alejandra Díaz noted last night on National Radio in the revolutionary program “Con todos los Hierros” (rough translation is “Giving it all we’ve got”) “Bolivar mounted and won the Admirable Campaign of 1813 in less than eight months, from Colombia to Caracas. We have to do the same in the economic war.”
If Venezuela can defeat the economic war this year, this will be another historical victory, as this has never happened before. Not in Guatemala (1954); not in Brazil (1964); not in the Dominican Republic (1966); not in Chile (1970-73); not in Nicaragua early 1990’s.
The Venezuelan people and its loyal military reverted the 2002 coup d’état and defeated the oil industry sabotage of 2002–2003. Now the challenge is to make history again using the combined strength of Civic-Military union against the forces of capitalism that want our natural resources at knockdown prices, defeat our socialist project and apply austerity in the population as is presently happening in the countries of southern Europe.
|Hoarding of corn flour|
|Maizete oil - impossible to find|
|Tons of hoarded products|
|Welcome for Cabello and Maduro|