Venezuelans trade in guns for gadgets in state scheme

Caracas (AFP) - People in violence-stricken Venezuela are trading in their guns for much-needed electrical household gadgets under an official scheme, the government said.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said 1,130 Venezuelans have handed in guns in return for TVs, microwaves, washing machines, freezers and tablet devices.

"We are going to give you a television. Thank you, brother, for taking part in this great day of disarmament!" he told one participant, shaking his hand and handing him a certificate at an event in central Caracas.

The pistols, shotguns, rifles and even the odd machine gun were ceremoniously crushed one by one in a hydraulic press.

Venezuela is suffering an economic crisis that has caused food shortages, riots and looting.

That has aggravated insecurity in the country that already has one of the highest homicide rates in the world: 58 for every 100,000 inhabitants, according to officials.

The government says the authorities have destroyed a total of 18,294 firearms in the country this year.

Reverol is a military official who has been indicted in the United States on drug-related charges.