Venezuela state declares food emergency at schools

"We are declaring a food emergency in our state," said Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state (AFP Photo/Federico Parra)

Caracas (AFP) - The opposition governor of Venezuela's second-largest state, Henrique Capriles, declared an emergency Monday over a lack of food for public schools, blaming the socialist government's "misguided" policies.

"We are declaring a food emergency in our state," said Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, who is leading a campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office in a recall referendum.

Capriles and his center-right opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), blame the leftist president for an economic crisis that is causing severe shortages of food and medicine in Venezuela.

The state of emergency enables Capriles, Maduro's opponent in the 2013 presidential election, to divert funding toward food for schools, nursing homes and facilities for the disabled.

It also authorizes him to resort to the private sector and aid organizations for food.

"There's not enough food for the people of this country," he told a news conference, accusing the government of covering up the real problem: "a lack of production."

Oil-rich Venezuela has veered into crisis as crude prices have collapsed since mid-2014, threatening Maduro and 17 years of socialist rule.

Maduro blames the shortages on an "economic war" by the business sector, which he accuses of withholding supplies to undermine his government.