Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accuses the United States of planning to destroy emergency food program

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro takes part in a broadcast regarding the government housing programs in the capital Caracas, May 16, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says the United States is poised to destroy a military-run emergency food program which is feeding millions of people across the crisis-hit country.

Maduro said in a televised speech Thursday that Caracas would push ahead even though Washington was preparing sanctions to destroy the food program, known by its Spanish acronym as CLAP.

“Do what you want to do, Venezuela will continue with the Local Supply and Production Committees,” he said, referencing the full name of the CLAP program.

Unnamed sources told Reuters that the US would unveil measures against the aid program, which will feed some six million families across Venezuela, within the next 90 days.

The Maduro government launched the plan in 2016 in response to a severe shortage of food, as the oil-rich nation has been struggling under severe economic contraction, hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of basic items under harsh US economic sanctions.

Under the program, the government sells boxes of food that include products such as rice, pasta, oil and powdered milk at subsidized prices.

Some of the products are imported from countries such as Turkey, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Russia and China have also sent humanitarian aid to the country on several occasions.

Washington has been actively seeking to undermine Maduro's government in a bid to replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Guaido, who heads the defunct National Assembly, pushed the country into a political crisis in January, when he suddenly declared himself as “interim president” of Venezuela, disputing the outcome of last year’s election, in which President Maduro emerged victorious.

US President Donald Trump as well as some of his Latin American and European allies immediately recognized Guaido and pledged to help him oust Maduro, even if it requires military action.