We wish we could be brief, but this is a very complicated situation...
Venezuela is the gate to South America. Located in the upper part of the continent, our country has been blessed with a unique geography and resources that were at some point the envy of the region. Having this privileged placement, we were the hub of many communities, having received many immigrants that escaped other countries such as Europe, Africa and the Americas that themselves were facing difficulties and war. Our citizens are true proof of the mélange of different societies and how beautiful the mix and richness of these cultures can become.
Sadly, what was once a paradise, has now turned into a nightmare. Because of the irresponsible management and degraded ambition of leaders that looted our country’s assets, what was once a booming society has now been destroyed.
After 18 years under the Chavista regime, our economy has defaulted to levels that are unsustainable. The Government officials affiliated with the now defunct president along with the current president, Nicolas Maduro, have employed populist measures that aren’t designed to ensure our economic independence. They’re unable to employ a system that can provide for a way out of the debacle they have created, leaving Venezuela as the country with the highest inflation level in the world. They’ve expropriated 95% of our once private companies, including key pieces of the food production system. In doing so, they have rendered them useless due to their inexperience and refusal to share the work experience with private companies that fostered and developed the previously booming economy in the country.
Furthermore, since almost immediately when Chavez came to power, the country has held strict but very corrupt currency exchange policies that make the process of importing any kind of merchandise very expensive and difficult. Under the guise of establishing a Socialist regime, they set themselves up to employ any strategy in the book to perpetuate themselves into power by creating a paternalist State that took away from the common citizen any ability to create and sustain an independent and truly strong constructive initiative for self employment or even the creation of small to medium industries that could blossom in our economy. Likewise, in their thirst to control every aspect, the regime made all big companies jump through impossible hurdles and corrupt practices so that most international corporations have abandoned operations and national companies have closed down until further notice.
This has resulted in such a debacle that the Venezuelans that haven’t been able to leave the country struggle every day with the most common of tasks. Finding basic food staples such as rice, flour, coffee, sugar, oil, grains, milk, and protein products such as beef, chicken or pork can take hours or even days. People have to line up in the streets by the hundreds, in government controlled markets, to be able to purchase what might be available. Finding something as elemental as toothpaste and toilet paper is extremely difficult, and the scarcity of these items has forced officials to request proof that you’re pregnant or have a baby to allow you to purchase baby formula or diapers. Feminine hygiene items are almost a luxury, if you can find them. The same can be said for contraceptives, basic antibiotics, pain medicine, and anti-allergy medicine, among a very long list of items that cannot be found in any of our pharmacies.
This situation has forced the Venezuelans to resort to desperate measures. People are now seen eating out of garbage bags in our cities because the readily available food for purchase is too costly. For reference, a burger at a street vendor, which used to be the day to day food for the working man in the city, can cost Bsf. 16,000. The monthly minimum wage is around Bsf. 180,000. That means that just one simple meal costs near of 8% of that salary.
Mothers have been forced to choose to not eat so they can provide food for their kids, and in many cases deep in the country, kids have died as a product of the lack of food or medicine to treat malnutrition. In most recent times, the rate of murder-suicide has skyrocketed because elder members of the families with sick kids or in critical levels of poverty have decided to kill their families and themselves because they can’t provide a life or solution to their problems.
For a country that just surpasses thirty million inhabitants, our yearly death toll climbs in the tenths of thousands and our infant death rate is higher than that of Syria… a country that has been recognized as a country at war. Regretfully, no one in the international community with strong pull has paid enough attention to our situation to realize that ours is also a country in a deep and violent war.
As this desperation has set in, and many have taken to the street to protest and plead for Maduro to exit the government, many have resorted to violent tactics to try and provide for their families and themselves. Kidnappings have become an industry, street robberies are extensively common, as well are home invasions, and looting.
Other groups, sponsored by the government, are paid and provided for if they help neutralize the protests by attacking their fellow citizens and helping the increasingly violent and merciless Bolivarian National Guard in suppressing any kind of dissent or pacifist protesting.
In the current situation, no member of the armed forces in Venezuela has come out to defend against or confront the Government for their deplorable actions. Hundreds have died in the slew of protests that began in 2014 and that continue to happen every day, and thousands have been wounded and jailed in the middle of this unrest. Youth are being assassinated in the streets or disappeared, while they protest to try and regain a country that they’ve never even met. Most of them hadn’t even been born when Chavez took power.
Anyone that helps the opposition is labeled by the government as an enemy of the state and are reprimanded. This has extended to hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses and field medics; they’ve been attacked, wounded, and buildings have even been gassed to punish them for helping people wounded by government forces. The government forces loot any medical supplies the hospitals may have and do not have mercy for those patients being attended to that are unrelated to the protest.
Our opposition leaders have been rendered powerless. The supreme court – controlled by the Chavistas – has taken all the legislative powers away from our National Assembly which is of opposition majority and has been elected by our citizens, while punishing the political leaders without any proof of fault, other than dissent.
To mask this situation, not only has the government taken almost complete control of the media but it has also blocked all humanitarian help and relief efforts so that there is no evidence of the daily Venezuelan tragedy. The only help that can still get through is via private couriers with Venezuelan connections, door-to-door services, or straight through Venezuelans brave enough to deliver items themselves when they travel.
It is because of all of this that a page like this one exists, to try to find help where we can. The situation changes everyday, help us to change it for the better!