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About the Author

Marianne Diaz
Writer, Lawyer, Activist (Valencia, Venezuela)

Venezuelan lawyer and fiction writer. Blogger for Amnesty International on Human Rights issues. Author for Global Voices Advocacy. Interested in gender, poverty and work issues, and freedom of speech and information.

Post

90 thousand tons of food go to waste in “the country where no one goes hungry”.

Published 09th June 2010 - 4 comments - 4515 views -

The most discussed issue of this week in Venezuela, by far, is the finding of over 3,500 containers full of rotten food, pertaining to the governmental company PDVAL, wich was created in 2008 in order to provide the middle and lower classes with economically accessible food.

It's estimated that over 92 thousand tons of food had been already classified as damaged, which would mean, not apt for human consumption, all of them containing basic products as rice, flour, pasta, milk, salt and oil, beef and pork meat. 

The government, to nobody's surprise, has refused to admit the gravity of the situation, alleging that this facts doesn't take out the credit of PDVAL to distributing cheap food to the lower classes. Actually, it has been said that some of the expired food is going to be "recovered" and "reprocessed", as, for instance, pet food, or that the expired milk is going to be used to make yoghurt. There's not enough publicitary work to do in order to lower the impact of these events on the population. However, what hasn't been publicly discussed is the reason why those containers were left to rot during more than two years, without being distributed. And that reason appears to be a bussiness of epic proportions for its responsibles.

Firstly, the food is bought overpriced, forcing the public tender outcomes in order to favor traders who participate in the benefits of the fraud. According to the dates in the food found, a significative amount of it was bought already expired (some lots have dates of 2007, when PDVAL was barely created in 2008).

But that's not the place where the big money is, or at least, not all of them. Surprisingly, the actual bussiness appears to be related to the rent of those containers, which belong to the shipping companies and are leased at a price estimated from 70 to 150 dollars per container per day. Even the more modest estimations reach a figure of over 170 millions of dollars for this transaction, increasing, obviously, for every single day those containers are retained at the port.

With the arrest of their leader, apparently, the government takes it for granted that the network of corruption has been dismantled. Now, there is only one public servant arrested, but those workers that denounced what was happening were fired. Anyway, we can't forget that similar circumstances were reported in 2008 and 2009, and never made public as now. Apparently, for a government which claims that "no one goes hungry", that the food is left to rot isn't such an issue, at least, not until the smell reaches the public opinion.

 

The featured image belongs to: Caribe Focus/Lisandro Barazarte/Notitarde


Category: Hunger | Tags:


Comments

  • Clare Herbert on 11th June 2010:

    This story may just keep me up nights. To think of the food we waste and all the people who are staring just breaks my heart. We need to find a solution, and I don’t think it’s more aid.


  • Aija Vanaga on 11th June 2010:

    This is interesting. I still have a question why there is legal obstacles for distributing usable food after end of the date.


  • Marianne Diaz on 20th June 2010:

    @Clare, this story is keeping me up all nights, especially because every day they’re discovering new containers. Just yesterday, there were found 6 thousand tons of expired milk. Rotten food has been sent to schools and kids have two or three weeks without breakfast at schools.

    @Aija, that’s something I actually know very little about, and there’s been a discussion in my country about the difference between expired and rotten. I asked around and people says that food cannot be distributed after its expiry date because it can’t be controlled if during the process of distributing it, it becomes unfit for consumption.
    However, most of that food has been expired since almost two years, so I don’t think it can be consumed, sadly.
    Thanks for reading and for your comments!


  • Sylwia Presley on 25th July 2010:

    Very interesting!


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