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The Venezuelan Army Won the Tuna Battle

The Venezuelan fishing fleet and the seafood processing industry went under due to massive imports from the Government. Ironically, the shot underneath the waterline was fired by military officers in charge of overseeing the national sovereignty. A subsidiary of the Savings Bank of the Army imported tuna and other goods. The business was shielded with guaranteed access to Government currencies at preferential rates and alliances with the new business class.

8/13/2017 11:00:42 AM

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The business preferred by the Venezuelan military in the self-named Bolivarian Revolution is that of food. The origin of this preference could go back to 2004, when Hugo Chavez created the Ministry of Food. Since then, food dispatch and its affiliated companies have been directed, almost exclusively, by the uniformed officers. With Chávez's successor Nicolás Maduro since 2013 in the presidency, that situation has been maintained to the point that last year he promoted the Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino López to the position of head of the Gran Misión Abastecimiento Soberano (Great Sovereign Supply Mission), a plan aimed at overcoming – so far, unsuccessfully – the chronic shortage of food, among other basic consumer products, that Venezuelans have suffered for years. But the binomial between the military and food has been so significant that for years, a mirror company of the Savings Bank of the Army imported and marketed canned tuna thanks to the US dollars and preferential treatment received while the former Foreign Exchange Administration Commission (Cadivi) was in place.

Since 2003, when Hugo Chávez imposed a strict exchange control system due to political reasons, Cadivi was the agency responsible for allocating foreign currency amounts that private or public companies or individuals requested for their businesses. By managing currencies in the midst of a convoluted system of exchange rates and for an import-prone country, those in charge had virtually unlimited opportunities to participate in corruption schemes. When President Maduro closed the body in 2013, it was accused by known former chavismo officials of being the escape window of billions of US dollars.