Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) waves to supporters next to Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez (C) and Venezuela's Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz, during a ceremony commemorating the 200th death anniversary of South American independence hero Francisco de Miranda in Caracas, Venezuela July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
AFP: Venezuelan military personnel named to oversee food distribution
Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela named publicly 18 military commanders to oversee the production and distribution of food and basic goods in an effort to alleviate severe shortages affecting the country.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez selected the military personnel for the "Great Mission of Sovereign Supply and Security," appointments formalized in the state newspaper.
"We will have thorough, precise control of the strategic areas," Padrino Lopez told journalists Saturday.
"This semester we will record supply levels greater than what we presented in the first semester, and next year, we will already have a structure to increase projection and improve distribution."
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro created the plan to combat severe shortages -- which private firms say have hit 80 percent -- of basic products like rice, sugar and toilet paper that has fueled mounting unrest.
The embattled Maduro blames the crisis on the collapse of oil prices and an "economic war" by businesses backed by US "imperialism."
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Update: A growing, catastrophic food crisis sows unrest in Venezuela (PBS News Hour).
WNU Editor: Military and police units guarding grocery stores, supermarkets, and food transport trucks .... such is the desperate state of affairs in Venezuela today. But what happens when there is no more food to guard .... my prediction is that on that day is when these same military and police units will join the mob to overthrow this wretched regime, and when that happens expect bloodshed and the beginning of a massive refugee crisis.