The FAO Caracas representative is politicized: a formal complaint to FAO’s Headquarters
On the basis of my best understanding of the guidelines given by your organization to report misconduct within its ranks I am formally introducing a complaint to the Office of the Inspector General of FAO against the behavior of FAO’s Caracas representative, Mr. Marcelo Resende, which I consider grossly biased in favor of the Venezuelan government in matters related to the critical Venezuelan food situation and distribution. On the basis of this complaint I formally ask FAO to conduct an investigation of its Caracas Office and the urgent application of the corrections which might be pertinent.
Mr. M. Resende, FAO representative in Venezuela
1. These are the FAO Guidelines:
Please report to the Office of the Inspector General (Investigations) (OIG/INV) any instance of suspected fraud and corruption including:
· Unlawful acts related to FAO activities (for example theft, fraud, embezzlement, solicitation/acceptance of bribes or kickbacks, extortion);
· Misrepresentation, forgery, or false certification in connection with any official business;
· Fraud committed to obtain undue financial benefits or entitlements (e.g. fraudulent claims for rental subsidy, education grant, travel, medical insurance);
· Fraud, favoritism, disclosure of confidential bidding information, or misconduct related to contract bids, performance of contract obligations or evaluation;
· Retaliation as defined under the Whistleblower Protection Policy;
· Staff violations of the Standards of Conduct for International Civil Servants
· Complaints of workplace harassment pursuant to the Policy on the Prevention of Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Authority.
Offenses that should not be reported to this office include:
· Complaints arising from working conditions or from an administrative measure or decision.
2. On the basis of these guidelines I claim that the Caracas Representative has crossed the line, incurring in misrepresentation and favoritism, representing the dismal Venezuelan government performance in food policies in a grossly favorable light. This behavior demands an impartial and immediate investigation, in order to preserve the reputation and credibility of the organization. I believe the Office of the Inspector General is the one ideally suited to deal with this issue, to judge by the description of its main activity, as leader of “the Organization’s efforts to prevent and combat fraud… as the Office mandate includes investigating alleged violations by personnel and the activities by third parties”.
3. The essence of my complaint is as follows. I am a Venezuelan/ Ú.S. citizen, now living in Virginia, USA. I am not an expert in your field, just an observer of the current Venezuelan reality in the food and agricultural sector. As you probably know the availability of food and the situation of the agricultural sector in Venezuela has become critical, to the point that the Venezuelan National Assembly has declared a state of emergency to exist in these areas. Due to the disastrous policies generated by the government that has been in place for the last 17 years, Venezuela, in spite of the highest oil income in history, has become a country where markets lack all essential foodstuff and where the Venezuelan people have to stand in line for hours to obtain the most meager food items, just barely enough for day to day subsistence. The country depends heavily on food imports, largely controlled by government agencies. This has generated significant corruption since tons of food, grossly over-billed, have been imported already in rotten conditions and have been found abandoned and hidden. These imports are mostly done through mafias made up of government bureaucrats and its friends. The cases are numerous and I am sure you will be able to find them in the Venezuelan and international press, see just one example:http://www.maduradas.com/lo-que-vtv-no-cuenta-hallan-45-toneladas-de-comida-podrida-en-camiones-de-pdval-en-falcon/
In parallel with this tragic situation your organization maintains, at least since 2013, a representative in Venezuela, Mr. Marcelo Resende, who has become a prominent supporter of the Venezuelan government policies related to food availability and distribution. His laudatory comments have been abundant and defy the reality which is evident to the eyes of anyone living in Venezuela today. Last year, in April 2015, he publicly declared (my translation):
“Venezuela is an example of good public policies to combat hunger, not only in our region but in the whole world. FAO recognizes these efforts. He added: “Venezuela is one of the countries with the largest public food distributing network: Mercal, Mercalito, PDVAL, Bicentenario and FAO can see this and congratulates the Venezuelan people. You can always count with FAO’s support”. And went on to say (abbreviated): “In name of the United Nations I want to congratulate you. Here we have a vivid example of how communes and government are winning food security and sovereignty”.
Coming at a time in which Venezuelan suffer a tragic food crisis and when corruption in those governments institutions mentioned by Mr. Resende are very well documented, these expressions of support by FAO’s Caracas representative have been considered by Venezuelans as extremely cynical. In fact, PDVAL and Bicentenario bureaucrats have been found to be involved in massive corruption, see:http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/160130/presos-presidentes-de-abastos-bicentenario-y-cval-por-hechos-de-corrup
In those same days of 2015 the Venezuelan government had transferred $12 million to the FAO’s Caracas office to finance a program to “eradicate hunger”.
In the last few weeks, March 2016, Mr. Resende has, again, made extremely laudatory comments about the Venezuelan food disaster. He has said, see: http://www.noticierodigital.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20944 : My translation: “I congratulate the people and government of Venezuela for the existence of the best public food distribution network and for structuring an active social participation and organization [in this sector].
I have to presume that Mr. Marcelo Resende has been co-opted by the Venezuelan regime to become one of its most ardent supporters. His pro-government bias is not only unjustified but cruel, in light of the Venezuelan reality. As a Venezuelan born citizen I strongly protest against this unprofessional posture by the FAO Caracas office representative.
I think this deserves an investigation by FAO’s highest authorities since the name of the organization is being invoked to support what is, in fact, a major tragedy.
4. I have sent the information listed above to you, in letters dated March and May of this year and have received a polite reply three days ago, to the effect that my complaint had been sent to the “relevant” office in the organization, as it was outside the jurisdiction of the Inspector General’s Office. This is the reason I am re-sending the complaint in a more formal manner.
5. I am taking this step for my country of birth, Venezuela, asking justice for its suffering citizens, but also in your own behalf since I believe the credibility and the prestige of your organization is at stake.
6. I am at your service at my address:
8360 Greensboro Drive 710
McLean, Virginia 22102