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Thursday, March 1, 2018

poverty and hunger crisis in Venezuela ~ Puma


Puma is a German multinational company that designs and manufactures athletic and casual footwear, apparel and accessories, headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany. The company was founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler.  Following the split from his brother, Rudolf Dassler originally registered the new-established company as Ruda, but later changed the name to Puma. 

In the animal kingdom, Puma is a genus in the Felidae that contains the cougar and may also include several poorly known Old World fossil representatives.  Pumas are large, secretive cats. They are also commonly known as cougars and mountain lions, and are able to reach larger sizes than some other "big" cat individuals.  Some time back, it was announced that the eastern cougar would be removed from the federal Endangered Species list and declared officially extinct. In fact, according to the written ruling, the last official eastern cougar specimen was killed in Maine in 1938, a few decades before it was added to the list in the first place.

Miles away, tension in Venezuela is on the rise again as the opposition and the government accuse each other of trying to stage a coup. There has been a wave of anti-government protests and dozens of people have been killed in protest-related violence. Venezuela is split into Chavistas, the name given to the followers of the socialist policies of the late President Hugo Chavez, and those who cannot wait to see an end to the 18 years in power of his United Socialist Party (PSUV). After the socialist leader died in 2013, Nicolas Maduro, also of the PSUV, was elected president on a promise to continue Mr Chavez's policies. Chavistas praise the two men for using Venezuela's oil riches to markedly reduce inequality and for lifting many Venezuelans out of poverty. But the opposition says that since the PSUV came to power in 1999, the socialist party has eroded Venezuela's democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy.

Sadly, the Nation is in chaos – with dreaded poverty and killings.  In fact, levels  of poverty in Venezuela have become so acute that workers at a zoo are slaughtering animals to feed others, staff have told the AFP news agency.  They say that two emaciated pumas are serving as 'poster kids' of sorts for the distressing state of affairs. The bone-thin pumas were saved from poachers,  but recent photos of them published in the Panorama newspaper have shocked people across what was once an oil-rich country but is now saddled by hyperinflation and acute food and medicine shortages - largely as a result of lower petroleum prices.  Critics say the plight of the animals is a reflection of Venezuela's descent into economic chaos.

The reports suggest that the  big cats were skinny when they first arrived at the zoo in the town of San Francisco in Zulia state near the Colombian border. They initially got better, but as Venezuela's latest crisis started to take effect 'it is as if they shrank', one zoo worker said.  A male and a female Andean condor, born in captivity and brought to the park as part of a breeding program to save the endangered species, have gone weeks without being fed properly.  Two birds of prey were so hungry they cannibalized a cage mate, staff said, while a Bengal tiger an elderly lion have also lost weight. The zoo has also been hit by a series of thefts since the country descended into economic chaos. In 2016, at least 40 animals including a tapir were stolen - it is thought by people looking to salvage meat.

The minimum wage, equivalent to £40 a month at the official exchange rate, is barely enough to buy 4.5 pounds of meat.  In 2016 at the Caricuao Zoo in Caracas, a horse was killed by assailants who salvaged its flesh to eat. In the state of Falcon, two wild pigs were stolen from a zoo. It is not just animal in zoos that are suffering. Large numbers of people are abandoning their pet dogs in cities of the country because they are unable to feed and vaccinate them, newspaper reports say. Most of the dogs are starving and taking over garbage-lined street corners, blocking Venezuelans who scavenge for their own food there, El Nacional (in Spanish) reported. Stray dogs are not a new a problem in major cities of the country, with reports from two years ago suggesting that the nation's poorest have always hunted and eaten them. 

Four years of recession and the world's highest inflation have plunged millions of Venezuelans into poverty. Supermarket shelves in the capital Caracas have no food as Venezuela's economy sinks into the abyss        - in January, a non-governmental organization found that more and more Venezuelans, unable to afford anything else, were buying dog food to feed their families. The situation is reported to be especially dire for prisoners in the country who have resorted to eating rats and pigeons to avoid starving to death. Looting has been increasing in the provinces since Christmas, with food shortages and hyperinflation leaving millions of people hungry, though the capital, Caracas, has mostly lbeen unaffected. Stories of degradation and deprivation come out of Venezuela at a 'relentless clip', the Washington Post recently reported. Life has seldom been so challenging for people living in shanty towns      - and that is a reflection of the misrule.  

It is estimated that as many as four million Venezuelans - more than 10 percent of the population - have left the country.  That is an exodus on a similar scale to that of war-torn in Syria. Meanwhile the Trump administration is considering sanctioning a Venezuelan military-run oil services company and restricting insurance coverage for Venezuelan oil shipments to ratchet up pressure on Socialist President Nicolas Maduro, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.  With Maduro running for another term in an April election that Washington and its allies oppose as a sham, the U.S. is weighing sanctions that would target Venezuela's vital oil sector beyond what has been done before, the official told Reuters. Some measures could come before the vote and others could be imposed afterwards.

Sad plight of a Nation and its people that was known to be petroleum rich !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st Mar 2018.

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