In one incident, captured on video and posted to social media, dozens of men surrounded a cow changing “we are hungry” and ‘”people are suffering” while throwing stones at the helpless beast and hitting it with sticks.
Opposition lawmaker Carlos Paparoni said four people had died and 10 were injured in the chaos that errupted in the western Andean state. 300 animals were believed to have been killed.
Venezuela has the world’s highest inflation and after four years of recession millions of Venezuelans have sunk into poverty and starvation.
One 50-year-old Merida resident reported witnessing some 800 people converge on a food collection center Thursday afternoon and loot it.
“They knocked down the gates and looted flour, rice, cooking oil, cooking gas,” the witness told Reuters. “The police and the National Guard tried to control the situation by giving out what was left.”
Venezuela also has the world’s largest crude reserves. President Nicolás Maduro has refused to step down and has not commented on the food riots in Merida and blames Venezuela’s problems on private investment.
“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.”
Last week, authorities forced over 200 supermarkets to slash prices, which creating further chaos as desperate Venezuelans rushed to buy cheaper food as supplies continued to dwindle.