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Why Are There Never-Ending Lines At Grocery Stores In Venezuela?

Tensions are rising as people grow more tired of standing in line for hours in order to buy whatever is left in the shortage-ridden country. President Nicolas Maduro, meanwhile, is accusing the opposition and Venezuela's elite of waging an "economic war" against the country by creating the shortage while he's away on a diplomatic tour.

Posted on January 14, 2015, at 5:58 p.m. ET

The never-ending lines are seen throughout the country, forcing some people to sleep outside of stores in order to buy necessities.

Federico Parra / Via AFP / Getty Images
Federico Parra / Via AFP / Getty Images

In some states, the government has banned lines at night and sleeping in front of the stores.

Federico Parra / Via AFP / Getty Images

Taking photos or video of the long lines and empty stores is also forbidden.

Jorge Silva / Reuters

The dismay and frustration amongst Venezuelans is hard to ignore.

Federico Parra / Via AFP / Getty Images
Federico Parra / Via AFP / Getty Images
Stringer / Reuters
Jorge Silva / Reuters
Federico Parra / Via AFP / Getty Images

Some markets began enforcing a policy that limits patrons to two shopping days a week.

Venezuelans will only be allowed to shop on certain days, depending on the ending number of their ID cards. For example: If your ID ends with the number one, you can only shop Wednesdays and Sundays.

This new policy was proposed by Ombudsman, Tarek William Saab, who assured the public that the new procedure is only aimed at maintaining public order.

Many believe, however, that the new policy violates their human rights and the constitution.

View this video on YouTube

President Nicolás Maduro, who is currently on a foreign diplomatic tour, blames the opposition and the“economic warfare promoted by right-wing sectors."

Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

During a telephone interview on Tuesday with Telesur, the president said:

"They waited for me to leave the country to create an ambush. This strategic trip for the country is driving them crazy. They wanted to bring the people to despair, but the people are aware of what is happening."

Food Security Czar Carlos Osorio caused controversy last week when he said that the existence of long lines proved that Venezuela has plenty of food. Otherwise, he said, there would be nothing to line up for.

Meanwhile, some government supporters believe the shortage is only happening because food distributors "overslept."

View this video on YouTube

La Patilla / Via

The video, produced by the Venezuelan website La Patilla, shows government supporters getting interviewed while they wait in line to go grocery shopping. In the video they're asked about the current shortage, to which they reply: "This is only temporary, it's only because it was a long weekend and food distributors probably overslept."

Thumbnails: Federico Parra / Via AFP / Getty Images