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  • Flamingos in a German zoo.

    Flamingos in a German zoo. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 February 2017

Venezuelans are killing and eating flamingos amidst food shortages, according to an unsubstantiated report by the Miami Herald.

Not a day goes by that corporate mainstream media doesn’t report kooky unsubstantiated claims about Venezuela. 

Venezuela: What's Behind the Shortages?

You’ve probably heard some of the craziest ones — President Nicolas Maduro allegedly said he saw the ghost of deceased leader Hugo Chavez in the form of a bird, Chavez supposedly said that capitalism destroyed life on Mars, and the Bolivarian government allegedly allows cannibal prisoners to eat fellow inmates.

Now, you can add another kooky claim to the list.

Venezuelan biology student Luis Sibira claims that Venezuelans are killing and eating flamingos amidst food shortages, the Miami Herald reported. But flamingos aren’t the only animals he claims residents are eating — dogs, cats, donkeys, horses and pigeons are also on his list. 

Sibira, a biology student at Maracaibo’s University of Zulia, alleges that he found eight dead pink flamingos in Venezuela’s marshy Las Peonias Lagoon region last November. He claims their breasts and torsos were sliced out and that their heads, legs, and feathers were the only body parts left, the Miami Herald also reports.

Since then, Sibira and other “investigators” allege that they’ve seen at least 20 similar cases involving the aforementioned list of animals. 

Sibira’s claim is yet another example of how corporate mainstream media outlets will report any story that attempts to make Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution look bad, no matter how unsubstantiated or outlandish the story is. It’s also an example of how the same outlets frame Venezuela’s food shortages as a product of government inefficiency instead of opposition-led economic warfare.

Wealthy right-wing business owners in Venezuela, especially those in the supermarket industry, are intentionally hoarding food products so they can resell them at higher prices and make large profits. Food importing companies allied with the opposition are also manipulating import figures to raise prices. 

Former Venezuelan Central Bank chief Edmee Betancourt reported in 2013 that the country lost between US$15 and $20 billion dollars the previous year through such fraudulent import deals, birthing today’s food shortages. 

Venezuelan Private Sector Siphoned Off $259B in Public Funds

Moreover, over 750 opposition-controlled offshore companies linked to the Panama Papers scandal have been accused of purposely redirecting Venezuelan imports of raw food materials from the government to the private sector. Most of these companies have since established new production facilities in the United States and Canada, selling their products back to Venezuelans on the black market. 

There’s no doubt that food shortages are a serious issue in Venezuela. And the Bolivarian government is investing significant time and resources into combating it. But one should take reports that make kooky unsubstantiated claims about the crisis like alleged flamingo eating with a grain of salt. 

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