Colom­bia, U.S., Mex­ico, Panama seek to com­bat Venezue­lan cor­rup­tion

Stabroek News - - NEWS -

BO­GOTA, (Reuters) - Colom­bia’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mauricio Car­de­nas yes­ter­day hosted a meet­ing with of­fi­cials from Mex­ico, Panama, and the United States to share in­for­ma­tion on Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials sus­pected of cor­rup­tion and their sup­port net­works.

Dur­ing a meet­ing in the coastal city of Carta­gena, the four na­tions agreed to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion to fight il­le­gal fi­nan­cial net­works in cri­siswracked Venezuela, ac­cord­ing to the coun­tries’ joint state­ment re­leased by UIAF, Colom­bia’s gov­ern­ment body that looks into sus­pi­cious money move­ments and sends them for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The OPEC na­tion has al­ready been hit with eco­nomic sanc­tions by Canada, the United States and a num­ber of other coun­tries over is­sues rang­ing from hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions to cor­rup­tion and drug traf­fick­ing.

The rule of Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro, who took of­fice in 2013, has co­in­cided with a deep re­ces­sion caused in part by a plunge in global oil prices and failed stateled eco­nomic poli­cies.

“Par­tic­i­pants rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of in­ter­na­tional co­or­di­na­tion to com­bat il­licit fi­nance net­works that sup­port Pres­i­dent Maduro’s re­pres­sive regime,” the UIAF state­ment said.

Venezuela’s in­for­ma­tion min­istry did not im­me­di­ately re­ply to a re­quest for com­ment.

Maduro, who won re-elec­tion on May 20 in a vote the main op­po­si­tion coali­tion boy­cotted, says Venezuela is a vic­tim of an “eco­nomic war” led by his ad­ver­saries with Wash­ing­ton’s help.

He says sanc­tions are part of ef­forts by for­eign coun­tries to un­der­mine his gov­ern­ment.

The UIAF state­ment also ac­cused Venezuela of us­ing food and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid as a weapon for so­cial con­trol and said there was “largescale theft” of funds from the Venezue­lan food aid pro­gram (CLAP).

Venezue­lan army of­fi­cials and others tasked with dis­tribut­ing food amid wide­spread short­ages have long been sus­pected of steal­ing or mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing gov­ern­ment-re­lated funds, of­ten with the help of busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als based out­side of the coun­try.

Mil­lions of peo­ple have left Venezuela to live in Colom­bia, Peru, Brazil and other Latin Amer­i­can na­tions over the years as the so­cial­ist neigh­bor sinks deeper into eco­nomic cri­sis.

The UIAF said the four na­tions would share fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence on cor­rup­tion net­works.

“This en­gage­ment builds on the high-level com­mit­ment from part­ners in the re­gion to sup­port the Venezue­lan peo­ple and hold those re­spon­si­ble for the po­lit­i­cal, so­cial, and eco­nomic crises ac­count­able for their ac­tions,” the state­ment said. SAN­TI­AGO, (Reuters) - Chilean fish­er­men were work­ing yes­ter­day to re­cover hundreds of thou­sands of salmon that es­caped from a fish farm as en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists warned of pos­si­ble risks if they are eaten by hu­mans, the gov­ern­ment said.

A storm on July 6 dam­aged nine en­clo­sures at Ma­rine Har­vest’s Punta Re­donda Cen­ter near the south­ern city of Cal­buco, free­ing at least 600,000 salmon into the wild, the com­pany said.

Lo­cal fish­er­men are work­ing with Ma­rine Har­vest, one of the world’s largest salmon pro­duc­ers, to re­cover the salmon and had cap­tured about 30,000 by yes­ter­day, the firm added.“We are mon­i­tor­ing all re­cap­ture ef­forts, en­sur­ing that these fish are taken to a fish­meal plant be­cause ob­vi­ously they can­not be con­sid­ered for di­rect (hu­man) con­sump­tion,” Ruth Alar­con, deputy di­rec­tor of aqua­cul­ture at the gov­ern­ment’s na­tional fish­eries ser­vice, told Reuters.

Mauricio Car­de­nas

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