Venezuela: Maduro accuses Portugal of sabotaging Christmas following failed pork deliveriesComments
Hundreds of Venezuelans have taken to the streets in poor parts of the capital Caracas to protest over a shortage of pork for their traditional Christmas dinner.
President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government had promised to provide subsidised meat to Venezuelans at the end of a fourth year of recession - but in many parts it did not materialise and frustration has boiled over.
Local media and Twitter users posted images of hundreds of people standing on streets and burning trash in protest at the shortages, in what some social media users dubbed the "pork revolution".
Maduro, who has been alleging a foreign-led "economic war" against his government, went on state TV to blame Portugal for failing to deliver pork imports in time for Christmas.
"What happened to the pork? They sabotaged us. I can name a country: Portugal," Maduro said.
"We bought all the Pork we had in Venezuela. We bought everything," he continued.
"But we had to import and so I gave the order, signed the agreements but they pursued the bank accounts of the boats,"
"We were chased by two giant ships that came and sabotaged us, but only for now".
Another senior official said the United States, which has imposed sanctions on the Maduro government, had influenced Lisbon.
"The Portuguese government certainly has no power to sabotage pork deliveries. We live in a market economy.
Companies are in charge of exports," Portugal's Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told Portuguese radio station TSF.
He added that he would seek information from the Portuguese embassy in Venezuela to clarify the situation.
There was no immediate response from the United States.
Maduro frequently blames the opposition, United States and other foreign powers for the country's economic and social crisis in which millions are suffering shortages of basic products, hyperinflation and a crumbling infrastructure.
"With or without sabotage, no one will take away the happiness of Christmas from the people," Maduro said.
Critics were scathing:
"They'll probably blame Christopher Columbus for hyper-inflation," scoffed one exiled opposition leader Antonio Ledezma.