CARACAS, Venezuela, July 13 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday ordered the military to take control of five ports as part of "war strategies" to provide food and medicine amid the economic crisis.
The ports in the Venezuelan cities of Guanta, Puerto Cabello, Maracaibo and La Guaira, and the Guamache port on the island of Margarita, will be under the control of the military, which will monitor food processing plants and coordinate production and distribution of essential items.
Maduro named Maj. Gen. Efraín Velasco Lugo as the new head of Venezuela's ports agency, Bolivariana de Puertos S.A.
On Monday, Maduro announced the Great Mission of Sovereign Supplying, which, among other things, will determine the purchases and distribution of food, medicine and household goods. The effort, described by Maduro as "war strategies" amid a U.S.-backed "economic war" carried out by political enemies and corporations, will be led by Venezuelan Defense Minister Gen. Vladimir Padrino.
During a televised address, Maduro said he introduced the measure to "establish order, state authority, coordination, support" for the Venezuelan economy.
The economic crisis, which has created a devastating food and medicine shortage in Venezuela, prompted up to 35,000 people in the border town of San Antonio del Tachira to travel to the Colombian town of Cucuta to purchase basic goods.
The border crossing linking the towns had been closed since August after three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian were injured in an attack by suspected smugglers in San Antonio del Tachira. The crossing was opened for 12 hours on Sunday to allow Venezuelans to buy goods.