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Venezuelans Eating Dogs, Zoo Animals as Economy Collapses

Venezuela’s opposition published photos this weekend of men butchering a dead dog on the streets of Caracas, preparing the meat for cooking in a nation that has been forced to take increasingly extreme measures to avoid a famine.

The photos (warning: extremely graphic) show two men in Quinta Crespo, Caracas, standing on a street corner and butchering the body of a dog. A representative of Vente Venezuela, an opposition party that has taken a hard line against dialogue with the socialist regime, posted the photos online as proof of how rapid the decline of Venezuela’s society has been since Hugo Chávez dismantled the nation’s capitalist economy in the 2000s.

“While the dictatorship gives away $5 million to the United States and others are considering governorships, Venezuelans are eating dogs,” Vente Venezuela coordinator Javier Chirinos said on Twitter, referring to the five million that dictator Nicolás Maduro has offered victims of Hurricane Harvey to generate goodwill with the international left.

“This is the result of 18 yeares of misery and socialist, and we have the responsibility to denounce it, but above all to do what is necessary to change it,” he continued. “To wait another year is to prolong hunger, allow more deaths, it is pain. How much more will we ask the people to withstand?”

Vente Venezuela, led by opposition leader María Corina Machado, has been the most vocal opponent of the opposition participating in upcoming gubernatorial and mayoral elections. The largest opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), has agreed to nominate candidates in the regional elections, angering many Venezuelan protesters and significantly damaging the morale of protesters that had taken to the streets on a daily basis since March. The MUD includes multiple member parties of the Socialist International.

Maduro’s regime most recently held elections on July 30. The technology company that provides Venezuela with the equipment to run elections announced that they had found evidence their equipment had been tampered with to increase the number of participants in that election. Machado and her supporters argue that, given the proof that Maduro’s regime had illegally doctored election results, any participation in government-run elections would legitimize their cheating.

Dogs are far from the only animals safe from starving Venezuelans. In August, zookeepers in Zulia state told reporters that local residents had begun stealing their animals for food. Among the most coveted targets were collared peccaries (a boar-like mammal) and buffalo.

“We assume that they were stolen with the intention of eating them,” a Zulia police officer confirmed.

Venezuela first officially declared that it had run out of food in February 2016, shortly after the MUD took over the National Assembly following a resounding electoral victory. Venezuelans had faced years of shortages of basic goods such as flour, vegetable oil, and milk, and Maduro imposed a ration system to limit distribution in 2014. Just like his predecessor Chávez, Maduro also imposed strict price controls on food and tampered with the market to such an extent that Venezuela became highly dependent on exports and extremely unproductive domestically. As a result, by 2017, many Venezuelans (an estimated 15 percent) had taken to eating food waste from industrial garbage dumps. Images of children digging through dumpsters for food have become increasingly common.

The average Venezuelan unintentionally lost 19 pounds in 2016, and most cannot procure three meals a day for themselves or their children.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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