No food, no medicine, babies left at hospitals, kidnappings, protesters dying, and complete government denial. Maria shares her story.
A quick note from Heather: About four months ago, I watched a news clip of a very attractive yet very skinny Venezuelan woman digging through the trash. She explained to the news reporter that she was looking for food to feed her family. I then contacted my friend who is from Venezuela (who now lives in the U.S.) and asked if this report was indeed true, and she said a resounding YES but that it was far worse than I could imagine. She told me her mother in law (Maria) lives and works in Venezuela and could really fill me in. So I sent Maria an email with several questions. She wrote me the following letter in return:
Without a shadow of a doubt, Venezuela is in the middle of a complete humanitarian crisis. Please allow me a few moments to tell you what I see on a daily basis.
No food, no medicines, and even longer lines to obtain what little people can find.
People are dying on a daily basis due to lack of food and BASIC medical supplies. Hospitals and healthcare centers have collapsed due to the fact that there are no supplies in order to treat patients. Doctors have been arrested or reprimanded by the government for “smuggling” gauze, band aids, alcohol etc. in order to help treat patients. Add to these more serious cases, like cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or diabetic patients receiving dialysis treatments, and surviving deems nearly impossible.
There is also an immense lack of staple foods and essential items (toilet paper, sanitary pads, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.). The government has tried to subsidize these items but you must stand in very long lines (we are talking anywhere from 4 to 12 hours) in order to obtain them at a reasonable price. For those who can afford to pay prices that are 4 to 5 times their cost, they are limited to a certain quantity and you must present your identification every single time you make a purchase. It has been a way for the government to control and monitor your spending for years. And they still call this a democratic country.
The inflation rate has caused devastation throughout the nation. A monthly minimum wage salary is 40,000 Bolivares (About 10 dollars) which can buy you practically nothing, so standing in extremely long lines is the ONLY option for most Venezuelans.
A study came out recently, that the average Venezuelan has lost 19 pounds. People call it the “Maduro diet.” People are rummaging through the trash. Everyone is so thin. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to raise a young family.
I need to tell you about the babies. As a volunteer in a children’s hospital, I see how almost daily, mothers are leaving their babies because they are physically unable to feed their children (lack of proper nutrition for the mother; therefore little to no milk production) as well as financially (formula is liquid gold…too expensive). Mother’s resort to the last option, leaving them somewhere they feel can properly keep these infants and babies alive. Most are sent to nearby orphanages, which as you can imagine are already filled to capacity; with yet again very little to tend to these children. Some babies have died due to lack of nutrition.
Venezuela is very unsafe. It’s not safe to walk the streets. Business Insider ranked the top 50 most dangerous cities in the world; seven of them are in Venezuela. Caracas, our capital, is ranked 1st. However, the government has rarely released this data, and most know the numbers are far worse than the government claims.
Close friends of our family were kidnapped off the streets and held for ransom. They call this the Secuestro Express. This is where gangs target upper class citizens whose families are able to pay ransoms quickly and quietly.
Things are completely out of control.
There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of the press, no freedom to protest peacefully as the constitution states. There is no democracy.
The people of Venezuela have been protesting out on the streets for the past 50 + days. This is a constitutional right, but from that first massive protest, the national guard has acted out violently against protesters. More than 50 deaths have been reported, mostly young students who are in the front of these marches. These young people, the future of our nation, protest wearing white shirts on their backs with their hands raised, yet this is the threat the government chooses to silence. These young adults who were born into this administration, but knowing that there has to be a bigger and better future for them, choose to stand up and resist this regime. These 16, 17 and 18 year old young adults are our fallen heroes.
Those who speak out against the government will be sought out and punished and for the case of many, they have been silenced. Passports have been seized and many people (at this point, those in dissent) are not able to leave the country. I am worried that soon it could be even worse for regular citizens who wish to leave.
Maduro is an illegitimate president. A dictator to a once fruitful nation. Alongside Chavez, he has destroyed our nation and left it in RUINS!
I have a few thoughts on what people can do to help.
First, you need to know that this a spiritual battle. There is EVIL residing in our land, no doubt about it. Only through prayer and fasting will these demons come out. To those who can, please pray, please fast, please spread the word.
There are many organizations that help. We recommend cuatroporvenezuela.org. This organization provides food, basic medical supplies, and much needed medicines to the people of Venezuela.
Thank you for your interest in our story and the plight of the Venezuelan people.
May God bless you,
P.S. from Heather: This blog post is my attempt to help. If you are willing and able, please consider making a donation to the website I listed above. No amount is too small. And FEEL FREE to share this post. And above all, please PRAY as Maria directed. God bless you all, and may God save the people of Venezuela.
Below: protestors attacked by the Venezuelan military.
Below: doctor pleads with the National Guard to stop harming the young students. Moments later he was hosed down. (see photo at top of post). All photo credits go to the people who posted them on Instagram.