Photo: Correo del Orinoco

You gotta admit that Indhriana Parada, Venezuelan vice-minister of health, found quite a subtle way to tell the delegates of the other 193 countries attending last Tuesday’s 71st Annual World Health Organization’s Summit in Geneva that the dictatorship she represents transformed the formerly flawed Venezuelan health system into a complete pile of garbage. In other words: the Venezuelan Health Ministry lies, once again, in a worldwide summit and doesn’t even flinch.

She did so representing not only Venezuela, but the 120 countries forming the Non-Aligned Movement (NOM), an organisation funded in the middle of the Cold War, somehow still alive today and presided by Venezuela since 2016.

“We’ve come from a privatizer, unequal health system, to a humanist one, one of free access and universal coverage for the whole population of Venezuela. Regarding access and universal health coverage, today we have a 100% coverage of the Barrio Adentro Mission, having a doctor with a basic health team for every 1,337 inhabitants, deployed in the most vulnerable and hard to reach areas of the country.”

Mrs. Parada could’ve taken a few minutes to explain why, with that 100% coverage, and her government allegedly building 24,478 popular clinics and adding seven new vaccines to the National Vaccination Program, child and maternal mortality are rising faster here than in any other country in the region. Or why diphtheria and measles, diseases long eradicated from the country, have re-emerged, reaching numbers never before seen, prompting the United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC) to recommend travelers to avoid any non-essential travel to Venezuela.

Duh! How is Diosdado supposed to buy all those vaccines kids are counting on now that he can’t access his dollars abroad?

Instead, the young nurse and lawyer from Maracay presented a never-ending stream of lies and twisted facts to hide her government’s ultimate responsibility in the meltdown of Venezuelan health services.

Regarding a crisis that even Samuel Moncada kind of acknowledged last month in an OAS meeting, she simply said that “there’s no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela” and the rest of the world should demand the immediate lift of “the criminal sanctions” that prevent the Maduro administration from “guaranteeing the health of the Venezuelan people.”

“We denounce that imperialist and interventionist factors make calls to decree a humanitarian crisis. They ask for humanitarian channels but at the same time, block our possibilities to get medicines and food for the Venezuelan people.”

Duh! How is Diosdado supposed to buy all those vaccines kids are counting on now that he can’t access his dollars abroad?

Talking about frozen assets, Mrs. Parada also stated that a foreign Venezuelan bank account holding nine million dollars supposedly meant to buy hemodialysis material was blocked by the U.S. government, jeopardizing the treatment for some 15,000 patients. Funny thing how she forgot to mention the 23 children at Caracas’s JM de los Ríos Pediatric Hospital who still haven’t been dialysed because the hospital’s sewer system overflowed, filling the place with feces… a month ago.

Seropositive patients in the country might be over the million and the disease is literally pushing indigenous tribes into extinction.

You couldn’t have a public health forum regarding the Venezuelan crisis without addressing malaria. With an estimate of more than 400,000 cases in 2017, compared to the already alarming 240,613 cases registered in 2016, Venezuela holds the greatest porcentual increase of malaria in the world, beating all African nations. But the vice-minister still had the nerve to remark the “positive indicators of the anti-malarial plan”, arguing that the government has acquired some 11 million pills and over a million quick tests to diagnose it, achieving a 68% reduction in the number of cases compared to last year, a fact impossible to confirm since the ministry hasn’t released a single epidemiological bulletin for over a year. Illegal mining in Bolívar, the main epidemiologic factor fueling the national malaria epidemic, wasn’t even mentioned.

In another demonstration of cynicism, Parada assured that Venezuela guarantees the timely delivery of antiretroviral therapy to over 69,000 HIV+ patients, even though the real number of seropositive patients in the country might be over the million and the disease is literally pushing indigenous tribes into extinction.

She had the time to talk about the six million Colombian migrants receiving free healthcare in Venezuela after “being forced to leave their country due to the armed conflict caused by Colombian oligarchy”, to remind the world of how Nicolás Maduro was reelected last Sunday with 68% of the votes in an “election” with the highest abstention in Venezuelan history. She even took a picture with her staff in front of UN headquarters, but there was no time to address a single one of Venezuela’s countless health problems.

And in a classic show of out of context chavista rhetoric, Parada made a call to the world to “stop the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the Syrian Golan.”

The fact that Vice-Minister Parada doesn’t care about Venezuelan lives a tenth of what she does about Palestinian protesters is a shame, but certainly not surprising. After all, she’s the representative of a dictatorship that chose to starve its people in exchange for a few votes. Her absolute lack of empathy towards the countless victims ignored in her sad speech is enraging, but these are unrepentant criminals ready to twist the truth as much as they can before acknowledging their mistakes.

Don’t doubt that for a minute.

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