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    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting at Miraflores Palace in Caracas in this handout photo provided by the Miraflores Palace October 22, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Published 24 October 2014

The Maduro government has discovered warehouses where businessmen were hoarding tonnes of medicines and food to make super profits and to sabotage the economy.

In a live address to the nation, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has announced the discovery of warehouses in different parts of the country packed with medical equipment and food.

He said that the discoveries are part of a widespread crackdown on smuggling carried out by businessmen and wealthy opponents who are reaping enormous profits by hoarding in order to raise prices and by smuggling subsidised goods across the border to Colombia.

Their motives are also political, Maduro added, accusing them of trying to sabotage the economy to bring his government down.

The crackdown on the illegal activity has included closing the border at night and arresting 1,266 people. Since the start of the year, 26,000 tons of merchandise have been confiscated,including food, fuel and vehicles.

The president said that the most recent warehouses seized were in central Aragua state, where 14 million syringes and 2 million surgical gloves, along with other pharmaceutical supplies and hoarded medical equipment, were headed for Colombia.

Maduro said such hoarding was, "hurting the people's health.”

"There's enough medical equipment here to cover Aragua's needs for a year. This is the criminal bourgeoisie. They are going to pay with jail, I swear it," Maduro added, as he stood by piles of medical equipment.

Other seizures were made in the border states of Zulia and Tachira, where state governors displayed warehouses packed with tons of food and fuel destined to be contraband.

Maduro promised that the confiscated products would be taken to the country’s hospitals in coming days “in coordination with Public Health Minister Nancy (Pérez), health authorities and the National Armed Forces of Venezuela.”  

In his two-hour address to the nation, Maduro also announced he would issue a new law to set new maximum "fair price" on basic goods beginning November 1.

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