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During a speech on Venezolana de Television (VTV), a state-owned channel, Maduro spoke on the scarcity crisis – or, according to him, the lack of one:

It’s incredible (…) the amount of food people from all classes have in their homes. The items in home pantries [today] give us a clue about the things the people did not have access to before (…) 15, 20 years ago, our people did not eat meat nor basic diet staples. Today, our people have access to meat, chicken. Milk for our homes. They have it.
(…)
The levels of food stock in people’s homes is impressive. Instead of a famine, our people today are guaranteed their nutrition, their products, all in the middle of [an economic] battle.

Maduro pointed to a state-commissioned survey that last year, 95.6% of Venezuelan households ate three meals per day.

The comments contract months of independent data from virtually every sector of the Venezuelan economy – including the food industry – which suggests unequivocally that the country is suffering through and unprecedented scarcity crisis.

Brawl Over Powdered Milk Leaves 5 Injured

A brawl broke out at a crowded supermarket in Maracay, Aragua state on Wednesday, when shoppers began fighting over powdered milk.

A large crowd began to form outside the supermarket in the early morning, after rumours spread through the city that a shipment of powdered milk had arrived. At some point during the morning, tensions boiled over and five people were injured in the violence that followed.

Jhonny Alcantara, the manager of the supermarket, says that 700 kilograms of powdered milk were sold at a limit of 2 kilograms per person. According to Alcantara, the brawl broke out when two women demanded that they be allowed to take more than two kilograms, which upset the other shoppers.

Below, pictures of the crowd waiting for their shot at the powdered milk:

21 Army Officials Charged with Smuggling

Efrain Lugo, the commanding officer of the Region Strategica Inegral de Los Andes [Strategic Los Andes Region] (REDI) said today that 21 out of 67 individuals currently under investigation for smuggling goods out of the country are members of the Venezuelan army.

Lugo explained that 16 soldiers were arrested this past Wednesday alone, after it was discovered that they were knowingly and willingly letting smugglers through their border crossing near the town of Pedro María Ureña in Tachira.

The other five soldiers were arrested after they were ordered to guard a stockpile of six thousand litres of gasoline. However, when officials from the Public Ministry came to inspect the stockpile, they found out that it had disappeared. It is suspected that the soldiers sold it.

While Lugo stressed that the soldiers would be tried as ordinary citizens, the news comes at a sensitive time for the country. Maduro’s government has been arguing for months that the scarcity crisis is mostly a result of smuggling by unscrupulous individuals. The fingerprint ration system, due out later this year, is being sold as a solution to the scarcity crisis.

However, opposition figure and government critics argue that the fingerprint scanning system will do little to alleviate the crisis, partially because they claim that the military and government officials – specially in border regions – get to the already-scarce products long before they reach store shelves.

Finally, another shot of what has become a familiar symptom of the scarcity crisis: excessively long lines. This undated photograph allegedly shows a line around a pharmacy in Valencia, Carabobo:

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