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CLAPs Bad Milk

The chemical analysis of eight Mexican brands that the Venezuelan government supplies to the low-income population through the Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP), gives scientific determination to what appeared to be an urban legend: it may be powdered, but it is not milk. The fraud affects both the coffers and the public health, by offering as food a mixture poor in calcium and proteins, yet full of carbohydrates and sodium.

2/18/2018 12:00:00 PM

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Carlos is just three years old. His mother, Mariana Álvarez, a 36-year-old teacher, takes him to the Nutrition, Growth and Development consultation at J. M. de los Ríos children’s hospital, the main pediatric center of Venezuela, in Caracas, the capital. The child is showing signs of malnutrition, a calamity in parallel expansion to the economic collapse experiences by the country. He weighs 12 kilos (26.45 lb), less than the average weight for his age. He gets tired as soon as he runs down the hospital corridor. When he smiles, his small, pitted teeth appear —a clear indication of decalcification.

"Fortunately, the box arrives and the milk is only for him," says the mother, pointing to Carlos with a trace of resignation. She refers to subsidized food distributed by the Government of President Nicolás Maduro through the so-called CLAPs, Local Supply and Production Committees. The CLAPs are the cover of a 2016 plan that turned into law weeks ago. It was aimed to finally release the production and distribution of food from the traditional commercial circuit, which the governing Chavism accuses of participating in an economic war against the self-proclaimed Bolivarian Revolution. To date, the program is in practice little more than a systematized distribution of bags and boxes with basic necessities - mostly imported - among popular sectors that constitute the electoral base of Chávez.