We know that Venezuela’s headlong plunge into the socialist experiment has turned into a total nightmare. Food shortages have led to mass looting and the eating of dogs, cats, and pigeons to abate the wave of hunger that’s set in, as supermarkets are not being regularly stocked. The Venezuelan Chamber of Food reported on April 27 that the country’s producers only have about 15 days worth of inventory left. Toilet paper is now a luxury item, and the rolling blackouts from the energy shortage is also a major problem, especially for those working in the hospitals. Right now, there’s an appalling lack of medical supplies, and babies are dying in maternity wards. Can the socialist government help? Well, that depends if you can reach them, as they’ve shortened workweeks to only two days to save energy. In the meantime, Venezuelans are dying (via NYT):
By morning, three newborns were already dead.
The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.
Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.
“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.
At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.
“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.
The figures are devastating. The rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry, to just over 2 percent in 2015 from 0.02 percent in 2012, according to a government report provided by lawmakers.
The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period, according to the report.
Here in the Caribbean port town of Barcelona, two premature infants died recently on the way to the main public clinic because the ambulance had no oxygen tanks. The hospital has no fully functioning X-ray or kidney dialysis machines because they broke long ago. And because there are no open beds, some patients lie on the floor in pools of their blood.
It is a battlefield clinic in a country where there is no war.
“Some come here healthy, and they leave dead,” Dr. Leandro Pérez said, standing in the emergency room of Luis Razetti Hospital, which serves the town.
Yet even among Venezuela’s failing hospitals, Luis Razetti Hospital in Barcelona has become one of the most notorious.
Samuel Castillo, 21, arrived in the emergency room needing blood. But supplies had run out. A holiday had been declared by the government to save electricity, and the blood bank took donations only on workdays. Mr. Castillo died that night.
For the past two and a half months, the hospital has not had a way to print X-rays. So patients must use a smartphone to take a picture of their scans and take them to the proper doctor.
The Times also added that basic items, like soap and gloves, have vanished from these medical facilities. Yet, this medical catastrophe has been festering since the death of Hugo Chavez. The UK-based Channel 4 News reported in July of 2015 that the same lack of medical supplies, including bags to take out human waste, were lacking at Venezuela’s hospitals. Rising inflation have led to doctors only making £10 a month. That’s a little over $14. So, with that meager wage, it’s not entirely shocking that 10,000 doctors have left Venezuela since 2010.
Last week, The Atlantic also documented how the nation is perilously close to complete and total collapse. The reason for the nation’s appalling socioeconomic conditions: Chavismo:
The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).
A case in point is the price controls, which have expanded to apply to more and more goods: food and vital medicines, yes, but also car batteries, essential medical services, deodorant, diapers, and, of course, toilet paper. The ostensible goal was to check inflation and keep goods affordable for the poor, but anyone with a basic grasp of economics could have foreseen the consequences: When prices are set below production costs, sellers can’t afford to keep the shelves stocked. Official prices are low, but it’s a mirage: The products have disappeared.
With people suffering from chronic medical conditions, like epilepsy, the search for critical medicines to help with symptoms is now akin to finding a unicorn. In the case of Maikel Mancilla Peña, The Atlantic added that this journey ended in his death after his mother wasn’t able to find the anti-convulsion drugs necessary to help him with his seizures:
At 14 years old, Maikel Mancilla Peña had been battling epilepsy for six years. His condition was under control, just about, thanks to a common anti-convulsive prescription drug called Lamotrigine. It had long been a struggle for his family to get it, but as the gap between the real cost of the drugs and the maximum pharmacies were allowed to charge for them grew, it became impossible to find them.
On February 11th this year, Maikel’s mom Yamaris gave him the last Lamotrigine tablet in their stash. None of Yamaris’s usual pharmacies had any anti-convulsants in stock. She worked social media— which in Venezuela these days is filled with desperate people trying to source scarce medicines—but no luck. She drove hours to track down a lead, but came up empty-handed.
In the following days, Maikel experienced a series of increasingly violent epileptic seizures, as his family watched helplessly. On February 20th, he suffered respiratory failure and died.
At a time when the country needs government services the most, they’re only working two days a week. The people are hungry, law and order has broken down, the hospitals are disaster zones, and the nation is so broke it can’t even print its own currency. Over a trillion dollars have been spent on 21st century socialism. It’s done nothing but made scores of people hungry, unable to seek proper medical care, and increased infant mortality to egregious levels. Socialism kills people. Full stop.
Recently, Venezuelan President (and Chavez successor) Nicolas Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency.
Last Note: Flashback to Salon c. 2013