A Venezuelan soldier has been arrested for shooting and killing a young pregnant woman on Christmas Eve.
Alexandra Conopoi, 18, was queuing up in Caracas for subsidised pork that the government had promised to millions of people for Christmas dinner.
It’s traditional in Venezuela to have a roast leg of pork for dinner on Christmas Eve.
But when people realised there wouldn’t be enough meat for everyone, protests broke out in the area.
According to local media the soldier – named as David José Rebolledo Cortez – opened fire when a group of demonstrators charged against his army unit.
After the bloodshed, President Nicolás Maduro went on national TV to accuse Portugal of attempting to destabilise his government by leading a boycott.
He said: ‘What happened to the pork? They sabotaged us. I can name a country: Portugal.’
The Portuguese government dismissed the claims, saying that private companies – not governments – are in charge of exports in a market economy.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva added that the Venezuelan government still owed Portuguese companies £35.3million from pork deliveries made in 2016.
Opposition figures in Venezuela also said that Maduro’s widespread corruption and populist policies were to blame for hyperinflation, and the chronic shortage of a number of vital goods such as toiletries and medicines.
As Cortez was arrested, Maduro announced that he was increasing the minimum wage by 40% – a move that many economists believe will foment hyperinflation in the crisis-stricken nation.
In his end-of-year address, Maduro said the new wage level would protect workers against what he calls Washington’s ‘economic war’ to sabotage socialism.
‘Good news!’ he said in the televised address yesterday.
Venezuelans will now earn around 797,510 bolivars a month, or just over $7 on the widely used black market index. Millions in the country will still be unable to afford three meals a day.
Prices went up by 1,369% between January and November, according to figures released by the opposition-led Congress, which estimated the 2017 rate would top 2,000%. The Venezuelan government has stopped publishing inflation data on a regular basis.
But Maduro spent most of his half-hour address blaming other nations for the country’s woes, accusing foreign and local media of spreading ‘negative propaganda’.
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