Facing starvation, Venezuelans turn to cow blood

The needy in Venezuela, now facing starvation under lockdown, are turning to one of the only forms of protein they can afford: Cow blood.

They're lining up at slaughterhouses to pick up their free ration, with two pounds of steak costing a staggering two times the monthly minimum wage.

While cow's blood is a traditional ingredient for "pichon" soup in the Venezuelan Andes, more people are seeking it out amid the pandemic, cooking it in stews and eating it along with rice.

The dire situation is giving Caracas mother, Desiree Marquez a great deal of anxiety.

"You're making breakfast and you think 'What I'm going to give them for lunch?' You're making lunch thinking about dinner, 'My God, what am I going to do for my kids later'. I go to bed thinking about what I'm going to do tomorrow. It's anguish, you don't sleep."

Though reported numbers of deaths and cases from the virus appear modest, with 440 cases and 10 deaths that critics say is inaccurate, Venezuelans are suffering from the shutdown and delays in the state food distribution program that for years has been the most important food source for many.

Critics call the food distribution program a social control mechanism that allows the government to limit dissidence and protest.

The consumption of blood for protein is a striking symbol of hunger as Venezuela's economy, now suffering six years of extreme hyperinflation and further strained under lockdown.

And with the virus and economic worries showing no near sign of abating, moms like Marquez continue to worry what they'll feed their kids next.