The food shortages that have been intensifying since the end of last year continued to result in unrest today, as state authorities dispersed crowds of hungry Venezuelans in at least two cities earlier today.
In Barquisimeto, Lara state, National Guard soldiers and National Bolivarian Police officers fired tear gas at a crowd of desperate residents who were lining up in the hopes of buying sugar from an establishment in the city. According to El Nacional, the crowd grew restless once they saw the truck carrying sugar arrive at the store, at which point the authorities dispersed the crowd with the noxious gas.
Below, images of tear gas lingering in the air outside of the store:
In Carrizal, Miranda state, authorities also fired tear gas at a large crowd of hopeful shoppers who had been lining up since the overnight hours outside of a supermarket. Below, images of the crowd:
National Guard commander Ramon Rondon Mata provided an update to the press today on food riots in Anzoategui state, and said that authorities had arrested over 400 people there over the past week days. One of the cases for which Rondon provided details resulted in the arrest of a group of 12 individuals, 5 of whom were children.
A local NGO called the Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social [Venezuelan Social Conflict Watch] revealed today that there have been 107 looting events in 19 states during the first 11 days of January. The national coordinator of the organization, Marco Antonio Ponce, spoke on the looting, saying:
Desperation, impunity and the serious humanitarian crisis that we are living in Venezuela continues to intensify, and that is driving people to commit this type of crime.
Felix Velasquez, a 64-year-old carpenter, put the situation succinctly for the AFP news agency:
People are dying of hunger. There’s no food.
Dramatic Footage Shows Hungry Crowd “Hunting” Cow
A video clip recorded in Merida state yesterday afternoon shows a group of people “hunting” a cow in a field. The crowd allegedly trespassed onto a farm to find the animal. In the video, a group of men can be seen surrounding the cow, giving brief chase and striking it before it collapses.
At the end of the video, the man recording shouts “We’re hungry! We’re suffering!”.
Below, the video:
Merida state governor Ramon Guevara spoke today on the unrest in the state, saying:
What has been happening is not guided by any political factors, neither from the opposition nor from the government. I must make that clear. These people are desperate over the lack of food.
US Hints at “Web of Sanctions” Against Maduro, Regime Officials
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the United States Department of State Thomas Shannon made comments on Venezuela that were published in Spain’s El Pais today. Shannon suggested that Washington was planning more sanctions against the Maduro regime, and that they would be coordinated with sanctions from other countries.
When asked by the newspaper if Washington and Madrid were collaborating on the Venezuelan issue, Shannon said:
We’re coordinating our diplomatic actions in order to create a network of sanctions against the Venezuelan government, and specially against government people or persons who have participated in violence against the Venezuelan people or against the democratic process in order to facilitate the possibilities for a dialogue between the government and the opposition. But we’re also very interested in the work that Spain [is doing in regards to] applying sanctions within the framework of the European Union. Spain has played a leading role in this process, and I believe that it has played a very, very important role.
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