Members of the national guard patrol a supermarket
Caracas - AFP
A private supermarket chain taken over by the Venezuelan government denied on Saturday accusations of food hoarding, amid huge lines and shortages in the crisis-hit country.
President Nicolas Maduro on Friday ordered the government takeover of the Dia a Dia chain, accusing it of "waging war against the population."
The company, which has 35 stores across Venezuela, rejected the allegations.
"Dia a Dia has not engaged in hoarding," it insisted in a statement, adding that it has not engaged in any actions to undermine the economy, contrary to the government's allegations.
The takeover was Maduro's latest attempt to control what he has called an "economic war" waged by the private sector and the opposition to destabilize the recession-hit country.
He has accused the company of hoarding goods to keep "the population irritated, suffering" in order to fuel discontent against the government.
Maduro earlier in the week deployed soldiers and state workers to supervise the sale of products at the supermarket's stores.
A similar intervention was made at the Farmatodo drugstore chain, whose understocked shelves and unstaffed cash registers led to long lines, which the government alleged was designed to foment speculation and instability.
Two Farmatodo executives were detained earlier this week, while Dia a Dia's director, Manuel Morales, was jailed on Friday.