Hungry mob 'hunts' cows in Venezuela food riots

Empty shelves in a supermarket in Caracas on Thursday. Food shortages and hyperinflation have left millions of Venezuelans hungry.
Empty shelves in a supermarket in Caracas on Thursday. Food shortages and hyperinflation have left millions of Venezuelans hungry.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BARINAS (Venezuela) • Hungry mobs ransacked a food collection centre and a supermarket in Venezuela's western Andean state of Merida yesterday, and reportedly even slaughtered cattle grazing in a field as unrest over food shortages spread through the country.

An opposition lawmaker from Merida, Mr Carlos Paparoni, said four people had died and 10 were injured in the chaos over the last two days, but he did not specify the circumstances.

Four years of recession and the world's highest inflation have plunged millions of Venezuelans into poverty, and President Nicolas Maduro's authoritarian socialist regime faces mounting unrest.

A video on social media showed around a dozen men running into a lush pasture, chasing a cow, and then apparently beating it to death.

"They're hunting. The people are hungry!" says the narrator of the video, who filmed the incident from his car.

Looting has been increasing in the provinces since Christmas, with food shortages and hyperinflation leaving millions of people hungry, though the capital, Caracas, has so far been largely unaffected.

"What we're living is barbaric," said opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido in a tweet referencing the slaughter of the cattle. "The dehumanising regime of Nicolas Maduro is turning a blind eye to the tragedy that we Venezuelans are living."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'Hungry mob 'hunts' cows in Venezuela food riots'. Print Edition | Subscribe