A group of prisoners in the Venezuelan state of Carabobo was forced to kill a Rottweiler for food to fight off starvation, the human rights NGO Venezuelan Prisons Observatory (OVP) revealed on Sunday.
The Argentine outlet Infobae reported that family members of the inmates told OVP that their incarcerated relatives were forced to kill the canine as they were “dying from hunger,” receiving just bread and the occasional meal from prison authorities.
The incident took place at the El Libertador prison facility in Hombre Nuevo, Carabobo state. Family members expressed concern at the severity of the punishment they may receive for killing the dog.
“The people in the prison know that what they have is hunger and they punish them inhumanly,” one of the relatives told the prisoner observatory Una Ventana a La Libertad. “What they did with that animal is wrong but hunger is serious; especially if they have gone a long time without eating a full meal. Now they won’t even give them the rice that they distribute to everyone.”
Making matters worse was the fact that the pet belonged to the former prison director; the inmates referred to her as “princess.” As part of their punishment, the inmates are not allowed to receive food from their relatives outside.
This version of events was corroborated by several other relatives who spoke to Una Ventana a La Libertad.
“Here those who receive the food keep part of it for themselves,” one of the inmates’ fathers told the organization. “They do not deliver the complete packages. When it’s time to visit and we talk to our family member, we find out that there were things missing something. Meals and cakes are not delivered complete, they always grab a few slices.”
“You make the sacrifice where you don’t have it since everything is very expensive for you to take your things to them, so that these uniformed men come to take something that is foreign. Taking what is not yours is a crime,” added another distressed mother. “They stole food from my son’s parcel last week; they left the container almost empty (…) May God rebuke them because they are perverse, inhuman, and heartless.”
Such shocking reports of eating pet animals for nutrition have become commonplace in socialist Venezuela, which is currently in the midst of the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in its history.
Although conditions in Venezuelan prisons are some of the harshest in the world, millions of people living on the outside have also turned to eating domestic pets and wild animals to stay alive. In 2018, there were also reports that some inmates in Bolivar state had started eating pigeons, rats, and other rodents due to lack of necessary nutrition.
As a result of the lack of food as well as the rise in violence, suicide, and lack of medical treatment, many Venezuelans have entered prison and never come out. Last year, the OVP revealed that more than 7,000 people have died in the country’s prison facilities since Hugo Chávez’s socialist regime seized power in 1998, one of the highest figures worldwide.