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Tue Mar 13, 2018, 10:16 AM

For poor Venezuelans, a box of food may sway vote for Maduro


CARACAS (Reuters) - A bag of rice on a hungry family’s kitchen table could be the key to Nicolas Maduro retaining the support of poor Venezuelans in May’s presidential election.

For millions of Venezuelans suffering an unprecedented economic crisis, a monthly handout of a box of heavily-subsidized basic food supplies by Maduro’s unpopular government has offered a tenuous lifeline in their once-prosperous OPEC nation.

The 55-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez introduced the so-called CLAP boxes in 2016 in a signature policy of his rule, continuing the socialist government’s strategy of seeking public support with cash bonuses and other giveaways.

Now, running for re-election on May 20, Maduro says the CLAPs are his“most powerful weapon” to combat an“economic war” being waged by Washington, which brands him a“dictator” and has imposed sanctions.

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