U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Nicolás Maduro regime of using food as a “political weapon.” According to Pompeo, more than 90 percent of Venezuelans cannot meet basic food needs.
The Secretary of State has been a key voice in the U.S. government to help make the Venezuelan crisis visible to the international community.
“More than 280 million people suffer from chronic hunger, including 94 percent of Venezuelans unable to cover daily food needs. Venezuelans refer to this as the ‘Maduro diet,’” Pompeo said along with a video he posted on his Twitter account October 16.
“While the U.S. gives millions of dollars in aid, Maduro uses food as a political weapon,” he added.
He also pointed out that “Maduro forces desperate Venezuelans to choose between food and freedom.”
The video includes the audio of a woman warning about conditions, such as the obligation to sign a document (a petition against the United States) to receive the box of food the government distributes as part of the initiative known as the Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP, in Spanish). “Heads of households who don’t sign won’t benefit from the CLAP bag,” is heard in the video.
“I don’t think I should have to sign to be given a box that I’ve already paid for,” says another woman in the same video.
According to the Maduro regime, the boxes of food were created to counter shortages, but several countries have criticized the initiative for being used to exert political pressure on Venezuelans and for corruption allegations.