Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to order markets to slash prices of food – an attempt to combat speculation and rampant inflation of the bolivar – has apparently backfired as mobs of hungry Venezuelans have started looting supermarkets and slaughtering cattle in the open to survive, Reuters reports.
Last week, we reported on near-riots that broke out in Caracas after the mandatory price cuts for food stoked widespread shortages as what little inventory that remained on market shelves quickly disappeared.
Venezuelans are suffering from a plethora of economic and social maladies.Four years of recession and an inflation rate approaching 4,000% by some measures have made the country’s currency practically worthless. Widespread shortages of food and medicine led to violent riots during the spring and early summer of 2017 that resulted in more than 100 deaths, including the burning alive of one suspected Maduro supporter by a crowd of citizens. Law enforcement in the capital and many of the country’s smaller cities has effectively disbanded, leading to a rise in lynchings and streets justice. Indeed, suspected thieves are sometimes killed.
Venezuela’s regime probably would’ve collapsed by now if it weren’t for the aide of Russia and China, which have lent the Maduro regime money in exchange for a discount on future oil deliveries. But now that the price of oil is finally climbing again, Maduro could find himself rescued by commodity markets. In apparent anticipation of higher oil prices, the administration announced late last year that it would finally introduce “the Petro” – a state-designed cryptocurrency that will help Venezuela’s customers pay for their goods while circumventing the petrodollar system.
In a shocking example of just how severe Venezuela’s food shortages have become, a video on social media showed roughly a dozen men running into a lush pasture, chasing a cow, and then apparently beating it to death for the meat.
— Ivette Calderon (@ivette1331) 11 January 2018
“They’re hunting. The people are hungry!” says the narrator of the video, who filmed the incident from his car. Lawmaker Paparoni said some 300 animals were believed to have been killed, though this hasn’t been independently confirmed.
Violent lootings and hijackings – long a staple of life for Venezuela’s remaining merchants – are also growing increasingly common.
Zuley Urdaneta, a 50 year-old vet in Merida, witnessed the looting of a truck along the highway around 2 pm Thursday afternoon, she told Reuters. About two hours later, he said some 800 people converged on a food collection center and proceeded to plunder it.
“They knocked down the gates and looted flour, rice, cooking oil, cooking gas,” said Urdaneta. “The police and the National Guard tried to control the situation by giving out what was left.”
Despite the grinding poverty and widespread social unrest that has challenged the last vestiges of Chavismo, Maduro has effectively sidelined his opposition while brutally suppressing popular uprisings.
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