Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has expanded the powers of the country’s armed forces to aid the distribution of food and medicine across the crisis-plagued South American state.
Military chief General Vladimir Padrino has been made responsible for overseeing the transportation and delivery of amenities to the far flung areas of the country, and Army General Efrain Velasco is now in charge of the port authority.
Five of the country’s main ports at Guanta, La Guaira, Puerto Cabello, Maracaibo and Guamache are now under military control and General Padrino expressed hope that the move might help calm the civil unrest that has seen widespread looting across the stricken nation.
“It’s not about militarizing,” he said on Tuesday.
“I don’t like to see military intervention in areas that aren’t of military nature, but this is a question of national security and defense of the fatherland.”
Venezuela has been in the grips of a deepening political and economic crises since the price of oil dropped to a ten-year low in January.
The South American country, which holds the largest oil reserves in the world, has been stricken by the pressures of a glutted fuel market and struggling to provide for its 30 million citizens.
Lines for food in Aragua #venezuela yet chavista Governor
TareckPSUV</a> says no crisis. via <a href="https://twitter.com/Imag3n">Imag3n
garciita949</a> <a href="https://t.co/RbbgHSOZUm">pic.twitter.com/RbbgHSOZUm</a></p>— Michael Welling (WellingMichael) 7 July 2016
With marches in the streets to protest the lack of necessities becoming increasingly frequent, the country’s already precarious financial situation took another blow this week after a factory in belonging to U.S. company Kimberly Clark announced it would close its doors, and Citibank moved to close the country’s overseas accounts.
With inflation currently at 180 per cent – and predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rise to some 720 per cent by the end of 2016 – many Venezuelans have taken to crossing the border into Colombia in search of food.