The beautiful, once prosperous oil-rich nation of Venezuela is now a country tottering towards total collapse – economic, social, and political. The dollars that once flowed into the country from its oil exports have dried up due to lower prices for oil and decreased production. In fact, Venezuela is now forced to import some of its oil from the United States.
Without going into all the varied reasons behind the collapse of the Venezuelan economy, the results are increasingly tragic for the people of this country. But it should be noted that in 2015 the richest person in the country was the daughter of the former president Hugo Chavez who died in 2013 from cancer after ruling the nation since 1999.
Under the regime of President Maduro, Chavez’s designated successor, essentials such as food and medicine are in short supply. In some cases they are non-existent.
As pictured above, people are literally rummaging through garbage for food.
Desperate pleas for essential drugs are now sent out by Twitter.
Para niña, de 4 años con paralisis cerebral se requiere:
CLONAC y ACIDO VALPROICO en jarabe.
Sus padres están deseperados buscándolos.
— Antonia Palacios (@solechesoluma) March 7, 2017
Translation: A four-year old girl with cerebral palsy needs Clonac and Valproic Acid. Her parents are searching desperately.
Or this desperate cry for help
#ServicioPublico Bebé de 2 años, herido de bala, necesita albúmina humana 20%.Tlf d su abuela: Zulay Zerpa 04164065570.Clínica Metropolitana
— Angélica Lugo (@Angelicareport) March 2, 2017
Translation: #PublicService A two-year old baby, wounded by gunfire, needs human albumin 20% Please contact her grandmother:
As we debate healthcare coverage in this country, we should be grateful that our citizens are not reduced to begging the rest of the world for essential medicine.
But the situation is even worse than many Americans realize. In order to make up for lost oil revenues, the government has taken to drug trafficking. This is not an idle or reckless accusation.
Just last month the United States government described the Vice President of Venezuela, Tarek El Aissami, as a “prominent drug trafficker.” Under the “law of unintended consequences” this announcement dealt a blow to opposition forces seeking the recall of President Maduro as it would have resulted in a “prominent drug trafficker” becoming President.
El Aissami is not the only prominent Venezuelan involved in the drug trade. Two nephews of President Maduro’s wife, the First Lady of Venezuela, were tried and convicted in the United States of “conspiring to import nearly a ton of cocaine into the U.S.”
The Human Rights Watch has strongly condemned the government of Venezuela in the attached link.
Increasingly, the government is shutting down the press in its efforts to quell the rising dissent among the people.
This message was recently sent from a Venezuelan journalist, editor of a weekly magazine, and educator:
Estoy detenido en cartagena, colombia, por denuncia del gobierno de venezuela.
— Rafael Poleo (@PoleoRafael) February 26, 2017
Translation: I am being detained in Cartagena, Columbia for denouncing the Venezuelan government.
But his was not the only voice silenced. On February 16th the government ordered all cable networks to remove CNN En Espanol after the network aired a story of the issuing of fraudulent passports and visas.
Perhaps these stories are easier to ignore because they are written in a foreign language. Perhaps we are so wrapped up in our own political issues that we can overlook those of a different country.
But maybe there is a lesson to be learned, and one that we would do well to heed. Venezuela was one of the most prosperous countries in this hemisphere until a man rode into power on a wave of popular support. He changed a country with a long history of democracy into one that made him president for life.
And while the people are starving and dying, his family made millions.