The United States is preparing sanctions against a major Venezuelan government subsidized food program that distributes important food staples to over half of Venezuelans each month. The impact would be devastating. Mike Fox reports from Venezuela.
MIKE FOX The United States is preparing sanctions against a major Venezuelan government food program that distributes important food staples to 6 million low-income families each month. The impact would be devastating.
The program is called CLAP: Local Committees for Supply and Production and it’s a lifeline for millions of Venezuelans, amid the country’s financial crisis. Here’s how.
When the CLAP boxes arrive to this poor neighborhood in the sprawling Caracas barrio of Petare, dozens of community members turn out.
Inside each box is flour, cooking oil, dehydrated milk and several bags of pasta, rice and beans.
These products are found in stores across the country, but with hyperinflation they’re far too expensive for most Venezuelans.
JOSE DANIEL PEREZ, Brisas de Turumo Comuna: The CLAP is a support. It’s a strategy to respond to the fact that food as been one of the main things impacted by the U.S. blockade. Since this is a country that often depends on imported food. This CLAP box here costs each family only 150 Bolivars – less than 1 penny on the dollar.
MIKE FOX: The local distribution of the food, here, is well organized. But it’s not carried out by government officials. It’s done by the community. José Daniel Pérez has lived in this neighborhood his whole life. He is a spokesperson for the Brisas de Turumo comuna, which is made up of 21 neighborhood or communal councils. 8,598 families in all. They will all get a box.
Here, in the poor barrios, they say, each home, without exception, receives a box, or bag, regardless of political affiliation.
JOSE DANIEL PEREZ: We attend to each family, without political bias. Every family gets their monthly box.
MIKE FOX: Community members help to offload the boxes from the larger trucks, onto smaller vehicles, organized by each communal council. These carry the food directly to residents on each street, in each neighborhood.
The truck arrives. Everyone pitches in.
YULEIDIS GUERRA, Block Captain: On my street there are 28 families … They bring us the boxes and we are in charge of getting them to each family.
MIKE FOX: There are no ID cards here. Everyone knows each other. Residents come and pick up their boxes. Kerlin Hinojosa is the first. She lives with her family just across the street.
KERLIN HINOJOSA, Resident: It’s a big help, because with the situation in the country, one kilo of rice is 7,000 bolivars, oil is 7,000 bolivars. It’s very difficult.
MIKE FOX: It’s still unknown how the Trump government plans to sanction the CLAP program, and what measures it will take. But one thing is clear. The U.S. goal is to deepen the crisis by cutting off this supply of food to millions of low-income Venezuelans. In other words, push them to starvation so they will rise up. This is not only evil, but it is the very definition of hypocrisy. The Trump administration claims it wants to HELP the Venezuelan people. What it does, instead, is knock them down.