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Chavez Irate Over Rotten Food

Wed, 06/02/2010 - 5:00am

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez urged prosecutors on Tuesday to bring charges against those responsible for the putrefaction of roughly 20,000 metric tons of food inside a seaport under the administration of the federal government.

"Debacles like this cannot be forgiven," Chavez said during a televised speech. "Justice must come into play with a well-sharpened sword."

"I've been informed that they detained one of those who must face up, the one responsible for bringing that food and having forgotten it there," he added without elaborating.

Chavez's comments came shortly after the Attorney General's Office announced the arrest of Luis Enrique Pulido, the former president of Venezuela's state-run food production and distribution company.

The rotting food was discovered on May 25 inside a warehouse within Puerto Cabello, the country's busiest port, according to a statement released by the prosecutors office.

Intelligence agents confirmed that the expiration dates on many of the decaying foodstuffs, including rice, flour, milk, sugar and cooking oil, were "presumably expired," it said.

The state-run food production and distribution company, known as PDVAL, is part of an expanding network of government-funded food markets, which manage approximately 20 percent of the nation's food sales.

Critics of Chavez have pointed to the decomposed food as an example of costly government inefficiency.

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