Venezuela’s military to the fore as Maduro struggles

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CARACAS: Venezuela’s military has been put on the frontline of a worsening national economic crisis by taking charge of food distribution and key ports amid dire shortages and mounting unrest. President Nicolas Maduro, who is trying to cling to power and avert total collapse of his oil-dependent country, announced Tuesday that the armed forces have taken control of the country’s five main seaports. On Monday, he greatly boosted the authority of his defense minister—armed forces chief General Vladimir Padrino—by making him responsible for distributing food, medicine and basic goods, all of which are running out. The nation’s woes have accumulated with multinational firms shutting up shop and, on Tuesday, the US bank Citibank confirming it has closed the government’s overseas payments account.

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