Venezuela orders civilians to back military on food distribution
CARACAS (AFP) –
President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday he was creating civilian units to back troops monitoring food production and distribution in crisis-wracked Venezuela.
The embattled president has had the military protecting the mainly centrally planned economy’s food distribution system which is hobbled by theft and black marketeering.
“I am going to do everything to put the resources in place so that in December and January production is at 100 percent,” Maduro said. “We cannot fail in this great productive task.”
As of next week, 985 stations will also be open at which food distribution violations can be reported, Maduro said in televised remarks.
Venezuela has suffered a spectacular implosion in the past three years as plunging oil prices have pushed it deep into recession, sparking riots, looting and violent crime.
Food and medicine shortages have grown so desperate that Human Rights Watch calls the situation a “profound humanitarian crisis.”
Maduro says the economic crisis is a capitalist conspiracy backed by the United States. The opposition blames 17 years of socialist rule under the mustachioed president and his late predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, but is suffering a deep economic crisis sparked by falling crude prices.
The International Monetary Fund estimates inflation will hit 475 percent this year.