Caracas: Angry Venezuelans took to the streets after President Nicolas Maduro accused Portugal of being behind a pork shortage that left thousands of the country’s poor without their traditional Christmas dinner, the media reported.
On Wednesday night, Maduro announced that he had been unable to distribute thousands of pork hind legs to the poorest neighbourhoods in the country as he had promised earlier in the month as part of the monthly subsidised food ration, reports CNN.
“What happened to the pork,” Maduro asked during a televised address. “They sabotaged us. I can name a country: Portugal.”
Like many in Latin America, Venezuelans typically eat pork legs, known locally as “pernil de cerdo”, during the Christmas holidays.
Venezuelans who protested on Wednesday and Thursday said they were angry that another government promise had been broken.
Dubbed the “pork revolution” on social media, the protests saw residents take to the streets to bang pots and pans and burn trash.
Many complained that their holidays would once again be marred by shortages of food and basic supplies.
A protester told CNN on Thursday: “They promised us the pork hind legs, chicken, meat… But nothing has been delivered.”
Another protester told Efe news on Thursday in Caracas: “We are protesting here about everything, about health, about food. We are protesting because there is no transportation, we are protesting because there is no social security. We are protesting for everything that the human being, the person, needs to live in a normal country.”
Meanwhile, in response to Maduro’s allegations, Portugal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Augusto Santos Silva said the government had no power to “sabotage the pork hind leg”.
Portuguese food company Raporal, which supplied pork hind legs to Venezuela in 2016, issued a statement saying that Venezuela still owed it, and its parent company Agrovarius, close to $47 million stemming from last year’s order of 14,000 tonnes of pork hind legs.
The statement, reported by Portuguese public broadcaster RTP, added that Venezuela had made some payments on that debt but that no payment had been received since August.