As the economic crisis and food shortages in socialist Venezuela continue, the citizens of what was once one of the richest countries in the Americas have taken to hunting stray dogs and cats to ease their hunger.  Ramón Muchacho, who serves as mayor of Chacao - a municipality in the Caracas metropolitan area -- said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.
 
In a post on Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons.” Spero News has not been able to verify his claims. His Twitter post unleashed a firestorm of comment in Venezuela. He belongs to the Primero Justicia party, which is opposed to the current ruling government.
 
In recent days, it was also reported that members of Venezuela’s military were seen appropriating goats belonging to civilians that they then slaughtered and eat. Six army officers were arrested for the theft of the goats. They reportedly said that the stole them because there was no food to be had at the For Manaure military installation were they served.
 
People have also been seen gathering edible food, such as half-rotten vegetables and fruit, from rubbish piles on the streets of Caracas. The crisis in Venezuela is worsening everyday due in part to shortages and what is now the world’s highest level of inflation. Looting and robbery for food are on the increase. In various regions of the country saw widespread looting of shopping malls, pharmacies, supermarkets and food trucks, all while people chanted “we are hungry.”
 
 
The Venezuelan Chamber of Food (Cavidea) said many businesses only have 15 days’ worth of inventory. Production has been affected as a result of a shortage of raw materials, as well as exhausted national and international supply resources. Supermarket employees confirm that food does not arrive at the same rate as it did before, and that people’s inability to get enough is a daily struggle.
 
Supermarkets are registered into a system in such a way that they are not permitted to sell to Venezuelans any food within 15 days since their purchase of the same product. As a result, long food lines have formed all over the country, with many people reselling their share to earn an “extra income.”
 
Rolling blackouts have also afflicted the country, causing shop owners and residents to lose food and medicine when their refrigerators and freezers are shut down. 
 
Venezuela continues under U.S. sanctions. In March, President Barack Obama issued an executive order putting the sanctions in place while citing various human rights abuses on the part of President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government. The executive order noted that Venezuela's current situation poses an "extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." Maduro called the sanctions "the most aggressive, unjust and poisonous step that the U.S. has ever taken against Venezuela." 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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