CARACAS – There was anger when Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro feasted on a steak at Salt Bae's restaurant in Istanbul, and there was ire when his socialists followers found a way to get cheaper meat in the middle of an middle-upper-class neighborhood in Caracas.
while promoting his "Great Agro-Venezuela MIssion" as his response to food prices, Maduro has said urban agriculture is the "revolution within the revolution." He has said the strategy will help Venezuelans fight the "economic war" the United States is waging against the oil-reliant country.
As butchers are forced to raise the price of beef, sometimes to more than $5 per pound, the members of Apakuana, a left-wing commune, found a way to sell meat for about $2 per pound, and they set up a ranch in the middle of the concrete jungle.
Apakuana's slaughterhouse is in the former building of CANTV, a telephone service company founded in 1930 and nationalized in 2007, in East Caracas' Sucre municipality.
The upper-middle-class residents of Sucre's Leoncino Martinez neighborhood reported a putrid smell and an unpleasant fly invasion coming from the former CANTV property.
When Betzaida Varela found out it was coming from the commune's improvised slaughterhouse, she said it wasn't such a good idea. She was mostly concerned about the sanitary conditions and the health risks.
Caracas Councilman Pedro Mendez told NTN-24 the illegal slaughterhouse didn't have proper refrigeration and was not employing proper sanitary measures. Residents said it was violating zoning restrictions.
While Apakuana members were butchering livestock and preparing the meat, Mendez also said there were long lines of costumers. Reuters reported the members of the commune sold the meat to hundreds of people.
Last week, Varela and other residents and activists met to protest the improvised slaughterhouse at the Leoncino Martinez neighborhood's Los Chorros area. ElEstimulo.com reported some were also concerned about the children in a neighboring pre-school.
The issue has made it to court. Members of the Primero Justicia party, which supported the presidential candidacy of Henrique Capriles, filed a lawsuit against Maduro's Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, or PDSUV, claiming the party's communal council controlled the illegal operation.
Members of the National Federation of Cattle Ranchers of Venezuela, or Fedenaga, aren't happy about the commune's idea either. They reported Nov. 13 that local authorities are engaging in the regular expropriation of cattle. Some suspect that's how the Apakuana commune got its livestock.