Venezuela congress votes to censure food czar amid

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2016 6:43 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress voted Thursday to censure the country's food minister amid widespread shortages.

Lawmakers held the vote against Food Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres after he failed to show up for a congressional hearing.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro's socialist administration said they took the vote for the good of the Venezuelan people in light of what has become a nutritional emergency. They said the censure should be enough to remove the minister from his post, but the ruling socialist party called it a purely symbolic gesture.

The opposition took control of congress in January, but has been almost entirely sidelined by Supreme Court decisions rendering legislative actions null. The administration said the no-confidence vote against Torres is also invalid because of a recent court ruling on parliamentary procedures.

Also on Thursday, the opposition said it had gathered the signatures needed to begin the process of recalling President Nicolas Maduro.

The bloc needed to gather signatures from 1 percent of the voting population to move on to the next round of the process. Opposition leaders said Thursday they had gathered more than three times the number of names needed in just 24 hours.