Venezuela police arrest 400 for looting in food shortage

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(BBC) – At least 400 people have been arrested in Venezuela after rioting and looting over food shortages. Over 100 shops in the coastal town of Cumana were hit and at least one person died according to local media.

Venezuela has one of the world’s highest inflation rates at 180% and people can queue for hours for subsidised food.

Opposition politicians blame government mismanagement for the shortages. But the government says the shortages are part of an economic war being waged to drive President Nicolas Maduro from office.

A woman with a sign reading "We starve" protests against new emergency powers decreed by President Nicolas Maduro in front of a line of riot policemen in Caracas on May 18, 2016.  (AFP photo)
A woman with a sign reading “We starve” protests against new emergency powers decreed by President Nicolas Maduro in front of a line of riot policemen in Caracas  (Federico Parra/AFP photo)

Most of the shops were looted for food according to opposition congresswoman Milagros Paz. She is quoted in Venezuelan newspaper El Universal as saying that the authorities “have not admitted the food distribution emergency”.

But according to the socialist governor of Sucre state, Luis Acuna, it was off licenses, opticians and clothes shops that were targeted in the looting, reports El Nacional.

Food and medicine are in short supply and street protests have become increasingly agitated.

More than 10 attempts of looting happen every day, according to the non-governmental organisation Venezuelan Violence Observatory.

Diosdado Cabello, a lawmaker from Mr Maduro’s PSUV party, blamed the opposition for inciting violent protest.

“These are fascist groups which are generating unrest,” he said.

“Don’t come to me with this fairy tale that these are spontaneous protests,” he said on his television programme.

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