Food riots grip western Venezuela, mob reportedly slaughters cattle in field

SAN CRISTOBAL/BARINAS, Venezuela,  (Reuters) – Hungry mobs ransacked a food collection center, and a supermarket in Venezuela’s western Andean state of Merida on Thursday and reportedly even slaughtered cattle grazing in a field as unrest over food shortages spread through the country.

An opposition lawmaker from Merida, 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.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not respond to a request for information about the latest disturbances to rock the nation of 30 million people.

Looters plundered a truck carrying corn, a food collection center, and a state-run supermarket, according to Paparoni, and a vet who witnessed the mayhem.

A video on social media also 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. Lawmaker Paparoni said some 300 animals were believed to have been killed. Reuters could not verify the information.

Zuley Urdaneta, a 50 year-old vet in Merida, witnessed the looting of a truck along the highway around 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. 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.”

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.

The opposition says Maduro’s failed economic policies and rampant corruption are to blame for the meltdown in the once booming country home to the world’s largest crude reserves.

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

Maduro’s government accuses political opponents and business-friendly foreign powers of trying to foment a social uprising against him by stoking inflation and hoarding food.

In what they said was an attempt to combat “speculation,” authorities last week forced over 200 supermarkets to slash prices, creating chaos as desperate Venezuelans leapt at the chance to buy cheaper food.

Some supermarkets were sold out of fruit and vegetables, and staff were unsure if the shelves would be replenished.


Chevron says it will not dispute climate science in U.S. lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO,  (Reuters) – A Chevron attorney said in court yesterday that the company supports scientific conclusions that humans are causing climate change, a response to a lawsuit that accuses five major energy producers of misleading the public for years about their role in global warming.

Zuckerberg says Facebook made mistakes on user data, vows curbs

SAN FRANCISCO,  (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday that his company made mistakes in how it handled data belonging to 50 million of its users and promised tougher steps to restrict developers’ access to such information.

Tens of millions in northern Brazil hit by massive power outage

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA,  (Reuters) – A power outage struck large swaths of Brazil yesterday, affecting tens of millions of people, especially in the country’s northern and northeastern regions where the system remains “practically collapsed,” according to an official.

Texas serial bomber made video confession before blowing himself up

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas,  (Reuters) – The Texas man who carried out a three-week bombing spree made a 25-minute video “confession” on his phone, which was recovered after he blew himself up yesterday as police were closing in to make an arrest, police said.

Miss Venezuela pageant to probe contestants’ ethics after social media feud

CARACAS,  (Reuters) – The Miss Venezuela beauty pageant said  yesterday it will investigate possible unethical conduct by its contestants following a vitriolic social media spat that saw former participants accusing each other of inappropriate behavior.


Not Ready to Subscribe ?

You can still join over other 15,000 subscribers and receive FREE breaking news alerts as they happen and the morning brief featuring top stories of the day. 

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now