In this file:
· Food is the Ultimate Weapon
· Food riots grip western Venezuela, mob reportedly slaughters cattle in field
Food is the Ultimate Weapon
By Bill Horan: Rockwell City, Iowa by Global Farmer Network
via AgWeb - Jan 11, 2018
The anti-government protests in Iran appear to have died down this week, but they could erupt again at any moment.
They also offer a helpful reminder: Food is the ultimate weapon.
When Iranians took to the streets at the end of December, they voiced their objections to everything from government corruption and repression to the military adventurism that has provided money and resources to foreign soldiers and terrorists.
But the unrest that captured the world’s attention may have boiled down to something as simple as the rising price of eggs.
“Eggs used to be 100,000 rials,” said one Iranian man, referring to Iran’s currency, in his effort to explain the strife. “Now they are 210,000.” In U.S. dollars, this means that their cost jumped from about $2.77 to $5.82.
The source for this quote is a British newspaper, the Telegraph, which several days ago spoke to “Majid Ahadi,” the pseudonym of an Iranian who needed to protect his true identity from the government’s security forces.
That’s how bad things are in Iran: People can’t even complain about food inflation, which has affected much more than just eggs, without fearing for their personal safety. Since the protests broke out on December 28, government forces have killed more than 20 people and arrested hundreds.
President Trump sounded off in a tweet on New Year’s Day: “The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!” The next day, he tweeted again about Iran: “The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights.”
I’ve always said that when people are hungry, they’ll do desperate things—and when their children are starving, they’ll do anything.
That’s why the rising cost of food can lead to political instability, even threatening to topple entrenched rulers in despotic countries.
Feeling a sense of déjà vu? Seven years ago, the Arab Spring demonstrations jolted the Islamic world—and they started over food as well.
In Tunisia, officials confiscated the fruits and vegetables of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor who operated a food cart, apparently because he refused to pay a bribe. His response was extreme: He committed suicide by lighting himself on fire.
It might have seemed like a futile gesture, but in Tunisia, the president was forced from office—and in North Africa and around the Middle East, protestors took to the streets.
Western optimists had hoped that the Arab Spring would inaugurate an era of political freedom and religious tolerance. Unfortunately, this was not to be:
Food riots grip western Venezuela, mob reportedly slaughters cattle in field
Anggy Polanco & Francisco Aguilar, Reuters
January 11, 2018
SAN CRISTOBAL/BARINAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Hungry mobs ransacked a food collection center, and a supermarket in Venezuela’s western Andean state of Merida on Thursday and reportedly even slaughtered cattle grazing in a field as unrest over food shortages spread through the country.
An opposition lawmaker from Merida, Carlos Paparoni, said four people had died and 10 were injured in the chaos over the last two days, but he did not specify the circumstances.
Four years of recession and the world’s highest inflation have plunged millions of Venezuelans into poverty, and President Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarian socialist regime faces mounting unrest.
Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not respond to a request for information about the latest disturbances to rock the nation of 30 million people. Looters plundered a truck carrying corn, a food collection center, and a state-run supermarket, according to Paparoni, and a vet who witnessed the mayhem.
A video on social media also showed around a dozen men running into a lush pasture, chasing a cow, and then apparently beating it to death.
“They’re hunting. The people are hungry!” says the narrator of the video, who filmed the incident from his car. Lawmaker Paparoni said some 300 animals were believed to have been killed. Reuters could not verify the information.
Zuley Urdaneta, a 50 year-old vet in Merida, witnessed the looting of a truck along the highway around 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. About two hours later, he said some 800 people converged on a food collection center and proceeded to plunder it...