Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuelans protest over pork shortages during Christmas

People in Caracas protesting at the shortages (27/12/2017) Image copyright EPA
Image caption President Maduro often blames foreign powers for the shortages, but critics says it is his mishandling of the economy

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela has accused Portugal of sabotaging pork deliveries in time for Christmas.

Mr Maduro said his government had paid for the contracts, but that Portugal failed to deliver.

Lisbon has dismissed the claim, saying the government has no power to sabotage deliveries.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in poor parts of Caracas on Wednesday night to protest at the shortage.

President Maduro's government had promised to provide the subsidised pork, a traditional dish during the Christmas festivities, but many people did not receive it and took to the streets to protest.

Mr Maduro went on television 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," said Mr Maduro.

Portugal's foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, said his government would check with Lisbon's embassy in Caracas, but added that private companies were in charge of exports in a market economy.

A Portuguese company which has sold pork to Venezuela in previous years, Raporal, said it did not know about a possible sabotage, but added that the government in Caracas still owed Portuguese companies 40m euros (£35.3m) from pork deliveries made in 2016.

Mr Maduro often blames the opposition or foreign powers, especially the United States, for the country's economic and social crisis.

But critics say mishandling of the economy and rampant corruption are the culprits.

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