There is no shortage of horror stories coming out of Venezuela currently, as its economy continues to plummet. Already, citizens of the country have been rioting and attempting to loot whatever is left on store shelves, which isn’t much, if anything at all.
As President Maduro continues to deny responsibility for the catastrophe afflicting the entire country, the situation continue to grow worse. Maduro has blamed everything from El Nino to the United States for the financial crisis, but nothing is being done to repair the economy.
Venezuela, a country whose economy sustains itself primarily on its exportation of oil, has suffered major losses as a result of its dwindling oil reserves. Outside experts have attributed these shortages to mismanagement and a corrupt government, both inevitable consequences of a socialist-run administration. Though Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, most of that oil is exported to other countries, leaving Venezuela with very little oil. As a result, rolling blackouts have become commonplace, leaving Venezuelans in the dark with empty bellies.
Now, Venezuela’s healthcare system is in complete disarray as medicine, hygienic supplies, and even food are becoming harder and harder to come by.
“The death of a baby is our daily bread,”
at said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in Caracas, referring to Venezuela’s hospitals. In addition to the shortages of vital supplies, the country is dealing with rolling blackouts.
For newborn infants relying on respirators to keep them alive, these blackouts mean that medical equipment powered by electricity is routinely being shutoff. Determined to do all they can despite the lack of power, doctors have spent hours pumping air into the lungs of newborn babies by hand. Despite their resilient efforts, many infant lives continue to be lost.
For many hospitals, even simple supplies like gloves and soap are nowhere to be found. For those suffering from cancer, the hospitals can no longer provide the treatment their patients so desperately need and many have been forced to rely on the black market for their medicine.
In one hospital in the city of Merida, an operating table covered in blood was unable to be sanitized and cleaned, because there is simply not enough water to do so. Doctors have resorted to washing their hands with seltzer water before surgery, as there are no other options.
A surgeon at the University of the Andes Hospital in Merida, Dr. Christian Pino, said, “It is like something from the 19th century.”
Another doctor, Luis Razetti, from the Caribbean port town of Barcelona explained the situation by saying, “Some come here healthy, and they leave dead.”
Clearly, Venezuela’s healthcare system is in a state of emergency, but President Maduro refuses to allow foreign humanitarian aid into the country. In a television appearance, President Maduro rejected calls to allow international aid, saying that it was a move on the part of his opposition planned to undermine him and privatize the country’s hospital system.
Doubling down on his position, President Maduro had the audacity to praise his country’s healthcare system amid this crisis. “I doubt that anywhere in the world, except in Cuba, there exists a better health system than this one,” he said.
“This is criminal that we can sit in a country with this much oil, and people are dying for lack of antibiotics,”
at says Oneida Guaipe, a lawmaker and former hospital union leader.
As Venezuela continues down a path of economic ruin, those of us removed from the situation are able to get a grim look into what happens when corrupt socialist leaders are in control of an entire country.