Photo: Courtesy

“I come from a dictatorship. People don’t say that enough.”

These are the words our Astrid Cantor used to put into context the profound political, economic and humanitarian crises in Venezuela as it took center stage this past weekend at the powerful Women in the World Summit held in New York City, an annual convening of women (and men who champion them) who are on the frontlines everywhere, including celebrities, CEOs, political leaders, activists and change-makers from Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, to Diane von Furstenberg and Liberian Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee.

At a panel called “Doctors who work in Peril,” Dr. Cantor, Caracas Chronicles columnist and medical doctor in Mérida State, and Federica Dávila, a medical student based in Caracas and founder of the Cruz Verde first aid group, described the extreme conditions under which they have to work, in a country plagued by severe food and medicine shortages, high inflation and an increasingly deteriorating health infrastructure.

From lack of female hygiene products (Astrid revealed on stage she would be packing lots of sanitary pads in her suitcases to bring back home) to Cruz Verde’s personnel suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing last year’s violent protests, the conversation revealed the serious and often heartbreaking dimensions of the humanitarian emergency in Venezuela, and the lack of appropriate responses from government officials.

Tina Brown, CEO and founder of Women in the World, says the summit’s mission has always been to shine a spotlight on the darkest corners of the world, and that includes Venezuela:

We have followed the escalating crisis in Venezuela with a watchful and concerned eye, connecting with incredibly fearless journalists, doctors and activists from the region throughout the year to fully understand the scope and complexity of the situation. We feel Dr. Astrid Cantor and Federica Dávila’s stories and perspectives are so very important and we’re honored to provide a megaphone and platform for their message. These two intrepid young women serve as a beacon of hope for the future of Venezuela.

Check out the panel discussion in full: Doctors working in peril video.

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  1. Awesome work Dr Cantor! You are a voice to the world for what has gone wrong in Venezuela under the Chavista dictatorship. Shining the spotlight on the unbelievable cruelty that is the monsterous regime serves to weaken and undermine their murderous ways.

    I hope you get some time to enjoy NYC.

  2. Well done! It is so important for all current “Rights for women” debates, never to forget about the so many urgent real down-to-earth women rights violations. Unfortunately “lack of female hygiene products”, no epidural anesthesia, the malnourishment of their children and similar, issues that should be given the highest priority, tend to be diluted by other more fashionable concerns.

  3. It is brave people like Dr. Cantor and Ms. Davila, willing to take calculated risks (y’all know what I am talking about), that will rescue Venezuela.

    Will lives be saved by their willingness to speak out? Will International aid be permitted sooner rather than later? Will this hasten the end of the Venezuelan nightmare? We will never know, but their actions have tilted the odds a little in that direction.

  4. Astrid and JCG have been extremely valuable contributors to CC re. their many selfless trials/tribulations trying to provide medical/health services to Venezuela’s very needy/poor citizenry. Praise be to them and all similar.

  5. I think it is great that you received some support at the Women in the World Summit but in fairness support from the democratic left has been quite tepid and disappointing. Anyone from the left willing to explain that lack of support. …

    • Yes! A few hour’s drive from NYC down I95, could put Astrid and Federica in the office of the junior Senator from Vermont. I would love to see a video of that discussion!

  6. Great article Luisa, Astrid and Federica! It’s good to get the bad news out on a world stage. Maybe someday will evoke change.

  7. Curious how women’s rights are better under dominant socialism that the left celebrates as bringing the equality that capitalism denies women?

    It was an interesting discussion and full of good points, but, let’s not forget the women who are causing starvation, mass persecution, and the destruction of the family unit in VZ.

    Please, let’s not pretend that this is all the fault of men. And more #metoo moments like this panel just gloss over the horrors of communists.

    My mother once told me, “just because a man can become a ruthless pig doesn’t make it any better that when a woman does it.”


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