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Jul 13, 3:20 PM EDT

Venezuelan's military begins campaign to combat shortages

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AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelans are getting a glimpse of the military's expanded role combatting severe food shortages that are threatening to provoke more unrest in the crisis-plagued nation.

Images broadcast Wednesday on state TV show uniformed officers inspecting chicken and soybean processing plants near the capital.

In an effort to combat worsening shortages President Nicolas Maduro this week handed control of the country's food production and distribution networks to Defense Minister Gen. Vladimir Padrino. A high-ranking officer was also placed atop the state agency overseeing ports, where the bulk of food the oil-producing nation consumes arrives.

The goal of what is called the Great Mission of Sovereign Supplying is to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food while the socialist-run country is overwhelmed by a deepening economic crisis and political turmoil.

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