US official: Venezuela government ‘steals from food programme’

US official: Venezuela government 'steals from food programme'
US official: Venezuela government 'steals from food programme'

The US has accused Venezuela’s government of stealing from a state-run food programme while its own people go hungry. Marshall Billingslea, a US treasury official, said Venezuelan government officials were over-charging for food. He said corruption by President Nicolás Maduro and his inner circle had “impoverished millions” of Venezuelans. The Venezuelan government blames US sanctions for the food shortages the country is experiencing. Mr Billingslea, who is the Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing at the US treasury department, accused President Maduro of “rapacious corruption” and of operating “a kleptocracy”. He was speaking at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council organised by the US ambassador, Nikki Haley. “Something is very wrong when citizens of an oil-rich country have to leave in order to beg on Colombian streets to feed their children,” Ms Haley said at the meeting. “That something is the corruption of the Maduro regime,” she added.  Despite UN figures which suggest that more than 2.3 million people have left Venezuela since 2014, the Venezuelan government has insisted that the number of people leaving the country is “normal”. Many cite severe shortages of food and medicines as the reasons for leaving.

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