The food crisis in Venezuela has forced the population to butcher their pet dogs for meat, opposition party leaders claim.
Photos released this weekend show two men in the capital Caracas skinning and cutting up a dog in the street, allegedly in order to get something to eat.
Venezuela has been suffering severe food shortages for years, but the situation has worsened in the wake of the recent constitutional assembly elections, and now two thirds of families say they cannot afford meat, eggs or margarine.
Starving: Two men, allegedly photographed in Caracas this weekend, can be seen butchering a dog in the street
The images have been put out by opposition party Vente Venezuela as President Nicholas Maduro offered financial assistance to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the U.S. to the tune of $5million (£3.84million).
‘While the dictatorship gives away $5 million to the United States and others are considering governorships, Venezuelans are eating dogs,’ party representative Javier Chirinos tweeted.
The chaotic collapse of the country’s socialist economic model has created chronic food shortages that have fuelled malnutrition and left millions seeking food anywhere they can find it, including bins or on the street.
In April this year, 11.4 per cent of of children in vulnerable areas of Venezuela were experiencing acute malnutrition, according to the Washington Post.
A third of families said they were resorting to emergency strategies such as eating from bins, having their children beg for food or selling essential items in their home.
Desperate: The graphic images were tweeted by a representative of the opposition party Vente Venezuela, claiming the men were going to eat the dog meat
No choice: The food crisis in Venezuela has forced thousands of families to eat pets, rummage through bins for food or send their children to starve in the streets
As of June, 62 per cent of families could not afford eggs, 66 per cent could not afford meat and just 34 per cent had the money to even buy margarine or cooking oil, the paper reports.
President Nicolas Maduro blames food shortages on opposition protests that have blocked streets and highways and a broader ‘economic war’ led by adversaries with the help of Washington.
Last month, a zoo in the city of Maracaibo near the Colombian border reported that animals were being stolen by the starving local population.
Several animals, including tapirs, a buffalo and two collared peccaries, similar in appearance to boars, were stolen in August alone.
The head of the Zulia Metropolitan Zoological Park in Maricabo said thefts in recent weeks had affected ten species.
‘What we presume is that they (were taken) with the intention of eating them,’ Luis Morales, an official for the Zulia division of the National Police said.