The working staff at Hospital Vargas (one of the oldest in Caracas) went through hell this weekend after two armed colectivos took its premises by force on two consecutive days.
The irregular groups (one of them identified as a Tupamaros branch) demanded at gunpoint that the doctors treat several of their members, wounded by gunfire.
What about the National Guard assigned to protect the hospital? Nowhere to be found.
The personnel told journalists that the colectivos got angry at them for the lack of medical supplies, a problem that both the Vargas Hospital and other public health centers have been dealing with for quite some time. Witnesses also reported that some of the colectivo members had official I.D. cards from the National Assembly and the Health Ministry.
One of the armed groups even offered their services to provide the hospital with security. That speaks volumes of how the plan to turn colectivos into the militia is really catching on.
The medical community has now suspended all operations (including emergencies) until their concerns are addressed. But the issue of violence in our hospitals is sadly becoming more frequent. And that only underscores the dramatic state of our public health system.