CORRECTED-Cash squeeze maims Venezuela's pre-election food imports
(Corrects June to July in 1st paragraph)
By Corina Pons
PUERTO CABELLO, Venezuela Dec 1 (Reuters) - In July, President Nicolas Maduro smiled as he sealed a multimillion-dollar food import deal with his Uruguayan counterpart designed to combat shortages ahead of Venezuela's legislative elections.
But instead of paying the $267 million as agreed, Maduro's government deposited in November under a fifth of that amount, according to Uruguay's government.
That put a brake on the shipments to Venezuela.
Uruguayan exporters say just a third of the milk and a tenth of the cheese agreed on were dispatched to Venezuela in October, well under the roughly 235,000 tonnes of food contracted in the whole deal.
Hit by recession and a slump in oil prices, Venezuela faces a cash crunch, hurting Maduro's bid to fill shelves with imported meat, dairy products and medicines before the Dec. 6 legislative elections that his socialist government may lose.
Providing Venezuelans with plentiful, price-fixed goods has worked in the past.
In a major pre-Christmas campaign in 2013, when the price of oil was still high, Maduro sent soldiers to occupy stores and ordered that the price of electronics and clothes be slashed, helping his party win regional elections. Continuación...