Venezuela to Prevent Food Shortage

The Government of Hugo Chavez launched a new food distribution program

The government "Corporacion de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agricolas (Government Agricultural Supply and Services Corporation) began distribution of food for the Venezuelan people Thursday, to prevent any shortage of supplies in the national market. CASA president Gerardo Liscano highlighted that, in the beginning, his company is trying to cover the needs of 20 percent of the most vulnerable people in the country.

Eight groups will distribute the food in the market in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities, Liscano said. The official pointed out the food will be distributed in Barquisimetro, Maracaibo, Acarigua, Maracay and Caracas to prevent any possible shortage of supplies in the next few days, "whether it happens naturally or if it is provoked".

CASA is a State-run company that buys food from national companies as well as foreign companies such as the US, Ireland and Argentina, among others, pointed out the official. Liscano stated that this time his corporation will distribute grains, peas, lentils, refined sugar and flour, wheat, sardines, tuna, pasta, rise and powdered milk, among other basic food products.

Liscano said that more food and a greater variety will arrive in Venezuela soon and will be distributed gradually in all national entities through wholesale markets such as Inmerca, Mercabar and Mercamar, among other supply centers in the interior of the country and Caracas.

The government assigned CASA at the beginning of 2003 to purchase basic food products inside and outside the country, after the shortage of supplies caused by the opposition strike in December and January joined by important business people. CASA is also trying to become a strong competitor to force private companies to lower the price of food.

On other issues, Chavez announced PDVSA, the oil national giant, has reached pre-strike production standards. He also added that Venezuela is now able to comply with contracts sealed with foreign customers.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

Photo (El Nacional): Chavez pledged no forgiveness for oil strikers. "They are nbot going to come back", he said.