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Sugar shortage forces Coca-Cola to halt production in Venezuela

A shortage of raw materials in Venezuela is hitting one sector after another. The country's economic and political crisis has raised concerns about political violence.

First Venezuela

stopped producing beer,

now Coca Cola. The world's largest beverage company on Monday said it would halt production of sweetened beverages in Venezuela, as the oil rich country's dual economic and political downward spiral continues unabated.

A spokesperson from the company said sugar suppliers "will temporarily cease operations due to a lack of raw materials." Production of sugar-based beverages has halted but non-sugar drinks like Diet Coke would continue, the company said.

As a result of falling oil prices, external debt and government exchange policies, importing even the most basic of goods has become a challenge for the cash-strapped socialist government.

Sky-high inflation has distorted markets and exacerbated shortages. Citizens already have to wait in long lines to acquire dwindling supplies of nearly everything and suffer from rolling electricity blackouts.

The vicious circle has led to looting and demonstrations as concern mounts that the country could boil over into widespread social unrest.

In response to the crises, President Nicolas Maduro has

declared a state of emergency

and called on the military to control food supplies.

The opposition that controls congress is trying to recall President Nicolas Maduro for his mismanagement of the country.

Maduro accuses the opposition of trying to carry out a US-inspired coup. Polls suggest most Venezuelans want the socialist president to step down.

The political deadlock and economic desperation

threatens to spill over into political violence.
Watch video 01:42

Skipping meals: Venezuela’s economic crisis

cw/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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