by J. D. Heyes
As the experiment to transform Venezuela from a market-based to a socialist economy continues unabated, the country is devolving further into chaos, with shortages of common commodities and medicines spreading like the unrest gripping larger parts of the South American nation.
As reported by OZY.com, a recent tweet characterized just how bad the situation has gotten, in terms of the availability of life-saving drugs and other medical treatments.
The website noted:
It’s a tweet that ultimately fell on deaf ears: “#ServicioPublico Infalgan solution of 10 Mg for injection is needed for Vanessa Chacon.” Sent from San Rafael del Piñal, a small town in Venezuela near the border with Colombia, the tweet was sent on behalf of Chacon, 22, who needed the medicine to survive a severe coronary condition. Unfortunately, it’s simply not available there — and isn’t likely to be anytime soon.
“My niece is very sick. We haven’t been able to locate the drug in pharmacies or in hospitals,” Nelson Jaimes, who is Chacon’s uncle and, ironically, a pharmacist, told the website. “We who are inside the pharma business can’t locate the products. What can a regular citizen expect to find?”
Apparently, not much more.
“We have to stay open, no matter what”
Several hundred tweets like this go out around the country every day with the hashtag “#ServicioPublico,” which translates to “public service.” However they are falling on mostly deaf ears, and not out of a lack of compassion, but for a lack of products. What’s more, the crisis is only worsening.
The economy in Venezuela, thanks to the socialist policies first of the late President Hugo Chavez and then continued by the current president, Nicolas Maduro, is collapsing. Lack of access to foreign currency is only making the situation worse, as is the recent fall in oil prices (Venezuela is a major oil exporter). That has led to domestic distributors being unable to settle accounts and pay their suppliers, and in turn that has led to international medical suppliers to cut off shipments or hold back on maintenance of the country’s medical infrastructure.
“Bills have piled up to the tune of some $245 million — and that doesn’t include money owed to drug companies, maintenance firms or other health careproviders [sic],” OZY.com reported.
The consequences of the government’s political ideology is now being felt across most of Venezuelan society. Some 15 percent of the country’s cancer patients are now dying because they have no access to treatment, health organizations have warned. And now, the situation is getting so bad that some professionals who once worked with pharmacy companies say they have discontinued relationships because there is simply no medicine for the businesses to supply.
The authoritarian socialist government has responded in typical fashion: It is banning hospitals from releasing any information about drug shortages and has blamed them (and shortages of virtually every other good and commodity) on smuggling and hoarding, none of which can be demonstrated or proven. Also, pharmacies and other clinics are required to remain open, even if they have nothing to offer, at risk of losing professional and operating licenses.
“You must keep the pharmacy open eight hours a day, every day, whether you have anything to sell or not,” said Jaimes. “If we close, we lose our licenses.”
Growing unrest and a reason to be prepared
But unrest — and criticism of government policies — is rising. In recent weeks, protestors clashed with police in the anti-government stronghold of San Cristobal and were greeted with showers of rubber bullets and tear gas, according to Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.
The demonstrations, which took place on the anniversary of bloody protests a year ago, were mostly calm. But one turned violent in the restive city near the Colombian border.
The Mail further reported:
Embattled President Nicolas Maduro, meanwhile, said his administration foiled a coup attempt that was supposed to take place [recently] and he alleged it had U.S. backing. He said five air force officers, including a general, were detained for plotting to use a military jet to bomb the presidential palace. He provided no evidence or other details.
Maduro frequently announces coup attempts but provides little evidence to back them up.
It should be noted that what is taking place in Venezuela is a great example of why Americans should be prepared for similar conditions at home, should the economy tank, by becoming more self-sufficient and growing and/or stocking up on foods and medicines, particularly ingredients for natural cures.