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U.S. blocking food shipments to Venezuela, says minister

Staff Writer |
The United States is blocking food shipments to Venezuela, a country struggling with shortages of staple goods, Venezuelan Minister of Urban Agriculture Freddy Bernal said.

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Bernal said U.S. threats of sanctions against companies doing business with Venezuela was interfering with the country's supply of imported foodstuffs.

"The United States pressures shipping companies that if they make purchases, sales or transactions with Venezuela, they will be sanctioned," Bernal said in an interview with Caracas-based Union Radio.

Bernal has coordinated a government program to deliver basic goods to families, which was put in place after Venezuela's political and economic crises led to shortages.

That aid includes both domestic products and tons of grains and meats imported from Nicaragua, Panama and Mexico, said Bernal, adding U.S. interference was impeding the national distribution of the foodstuffs.

Shortages of dietary staples and other basic goods have fueled discontent in Venezuela.

Bernal also denounced recent stepped-up anti-government demonstrations for destroying "30 food warehouses" that support the food aid program.

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