Photo: Naky Soto

Abusing Dignity

Employees of the University Hospital of Caracas (HUC) denounced last week that the institution’s board rejected a donation from the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF), despite the complex humanitarian crisis we’re experiencing. This Monday, the Health Ministry and the hospital’s board issued a statement to explain their decision, claiming that the donated medicines “don’t have the required sanitary registration” to be used in the country; demanding respect for the current legislation and, even more serious, exhibiting an inexcusable contradiction: according to them, there are no medicines because government authorities have been sanctioned, but saying that “Venezuela has enough resources to acquire all the medicines (…) and it’s not susceptible to miseries that might break its dignity,” suggesting that a more pertinent aid would be the lifting of sanctions against its leaders.

The Venezuelan government managed to accumulate a four billion dollar debt with the pharmaceutical industry.

Chavismo’s sadism

The Venezuelan government managed to accumulate a four billion dollar debt with the pharmaceutical industry. Without any promise of payment, the sector was dismantled, multiplying the vulnerability of a population with less money, less food and crumbling basic services, if any. In this context, in Venezuela any medication costs much more than it can cost in any other country. People die every day from treatable diseases, not necessarily complex, but finding medicines is practically restricted to private efforts, with hundreds of people requesting on social media what they can’t find in drugstores, hoping that someone has it. Naturally, suppliers are constantly decreasing and each case competes with many others, which is why everyone accepts and welcomes any medicine, except for the government.

The official offer

If you go to the high-cost pharmacy of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) in Los Ruices, you better be healthy and have lots of available time. The poor technology they use depends on the talent of those who handle it, thus, the investment becomes a waste. A poorly printed paper with the IVSS logo is more important that the software that regulates the process, which is understandable only for those who have lived through it. Last Friday, I went there for the first time ever and I was utterly lost and confused, as nobody offers information and most of the employees are hostile. The printed code used to enter the room only works for half of the process, until an employee checks that each recipe has the seven requirements they demand: date of issue; name of the medication per recipe, the patient’s name and ID card number; name, signature and seal of the treating doctor. If any of those elements is missing, the recipe is discarded. Then, you must wait until another employee shouts your name and only then will you know what medication in the recipe you’ll have access to according to the inventory.

Refusing to receive humanitarian aid is another kind of death sentence.

“Nobody speaks ill of Chávez here”

That huge room, with rows of metallic chairs and scarce ventilation, is only decorated with a free version of el finado’s crooked eyes and to their left, the phrase above these lines, an unnecessary insult and an incentive to do the opposite. Only people with severely impaired mobility may enter the room with company and although nobody explains why, you can’t use your phone, so your only option is talking to the rest of the people there, although that’s also regulated by those who “keep the order of the room,” a horde in uniform with olive green shirts and an immense need to feel superior and humiliate you, only because they have the relative power to do so. That’s a well-known trait of chavismo that, as we know, is never sated and springs up regardless of the individual’s level of authority. This is the deal: I humiliate you to remind you who’s in charge, so you remember you’re a slave; then I check the reactions, because without a victim, there’s no pleasure in humiliation. Nothing justifies the degradation, but when you see it happen several times against fragile people (sick patients, the elderly, etc.,) the insult transforms into aberration.

A bit more patria

Upon leaving the pharmacy, I felt mutinous, like a child: unable to contain the tears, trying to walk faster so that my speed would keep me from kicking something, with the absurd desire that my husband could guess the reason for my indignation so he could join me in my sadness for every mistreated person, for every patient that didn’t get what they needed because there’s nothing left to offer. Refusing to receive humanitarian aid is another kind of death sentence. Those who survive malnutrition have to deal with the health tragedy, with viral diseases, with medicine shortages, with the arrogance of corrupt bureaucrats who, after destroying the country, still cling to the power of deciding which aid pleases them and which mocks them, because their dignity is more important that the health of citizens, because sovereignty is above the right to live.

The government has no way of linking individual sanctions against their leaders with the lack of medicine purchases.

A serious confession

Yesterday morning, journalists César Miguel Rondón and Lila Vanorio interviewed one of the people mentioned in the HCU’s statement, Dr. Thaís Rebolledo, the only signatory whose signature was replaced with the term “Protected.” Rebolledo claimed: “Given the sanctions against us, we’ve been unable to buy medicines,” ratifying the contraction of recitals 1 and 5. She also parroted that only abiding by the legislation can they guarantee people’s integrity and that it would be more helpful lifting the sanctions than receiving insulting donations. Dr. Rebolledo lied. The government has no way of linking individual sanctions against their leaders with the lack of medicine purchases, not even assuming that the frozen assets in their personal accounts were embezzled from public funds because, in addition to admitting corruption, they’d require comparing the numbers between individuals, consignments and institutions.

The government ratifies that abusing the dignity of Venezuelans is their sole province, that explains their definitive refusal to receive humanitarian aid and just how deeply our crisis has intensified. Humiliating us is their prerogative, limiting us is their attribution, killing us is their faculty. The statement will serve for future trials against those responsible for another decision that blocks the access of scarce supplies and medicines. It’s a political decision and that’s how it must be judged.

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  1. Thanks for posting this article, Naky. Holding people’s medicines hostage in an effort to get their stolen loot back is pretty evil, and very transparent to anyone paying attention.

    I miss your daily updates on this blog. I suspect all the readers do.

    Wish you the best in getting the care you need despite being in Venezuela.

  2. Thank-you for taking me into that horrible experience. It reaffirms my desire to do what little I am able to support those who still suffer. Very well written, although the term has been trivialized by bumbling politicians your words allow me to say with validity “I feel your pain”. God be with you.

  3. The real question is what do we really mean by “Chavismo” nowadays.

    It ain’t Maduro or Cabello or Tarek or padrino. No.

    Nor the 1300 corrupt “generals” and the rest of the “Fuesas Almadas Nasionales”. No.

    Not even the estimated 4-5 thousand “public employees, on Maduro’s payroll. Most of them, obviously, corrupt and complicit, even explicit supporters of the narco-regime.

    I venture to guess that half of Kleptozuela’s clueless, uneducated populace is still “Chavista” at heart. Your average Pablo Pueblo. Often – not always – complicit, corrupt. Ladronzuelos, everywhere. Or, pray tell, how do they even survive in that filthy mess?

    Sometimes people get what’s coming to them. Well deserved. Unfortunately, there are literally millions of “collateral damage victims”, who either got the hell outta there or are still suffering.

  4. “Nobody speaks ill of Chávez here”

    And in most pueblos. People are ignorant enough to still adore and venerate the “Comandante Eterno”, just because of his charisma, and the freebies they still remember they got, when the cows were fat.

    Goes to show you the lamentable level of Education and/or corruption of a vast majority of the populace.

  5. What exactly does “Chavismo” mean nowadays?

    I ‘d like to see a good piece on that. Populism? Corruption? “Power-to-the-people”? “Socialism”? “Communism”? Robin Hood taking from the rich and giving to the poor? What does “revolucion” mean? Exactly? Stealing a LOT more than ever before? You bet.

    That’s all that crap means. Except a vast portion of the uneducated pueblo were fooled, and many are still fooled, by such obvious crap.

  6. Hi Naky,
    It’s nice to see you writing again. We have sure missed you! I hope you are feeling better. It is really sad to read what you and others are going through as you try to get proper medical treatment. I hope and pray that somehow, some way things will eventually get better and that Venezuela can recover from the nightmare that has befallen the country. Wishing you the best and a speedy recovery!

  7. Naky, Ven. Govt. public emplyees, if they had a little bit of power, have always treated those non-enchufados soliciting their services with mostly disdain–the difference between then and now is that then their were more money/resources available to at least dispense something, now there are neither money nor resources available, so you usually receive nothing. The IVSS in Los Ruices, assuming it’s one of the 2 or 3 Govt. distributors of high-cost cancer/MS/Parkinsons/ drugs at reasonable pricing, has been virtually dry of inventory for some time now–the Govt. is not willing to spend scarce foreign exchange on these drugs. Worse yet, they are not willing to admit the miserable failure of their ideology/economy/system by accepting needed pharmaceutical donations, similar to what happened after the catastrophic mudslides in 1999 in the Litoral, when all outside/foreign help was rejected, and nearly 20 years later virtually nothing has been done to rebuild the damage (despite grandiose tourism/roadway plans, with substantial funds supposedly allocated/disappeared).

  8. It was a very pleasant surprise to see your face at the bottom of this article Naky. Very glad to see you are back, you were sorely missed.
    Right now getting bit by the wrong mosquito is a death sentence in Venezuela. One of my kids pulled a shirt out of his closet and the close hanger scratched his face very close to his eye an the whole family had a panic attack as we gave him shit for god knows what he did wrong. Our only thoughts we what would we have done had he hurt himself worse then what we could fix with a bandaid and some polysporin.
    Then of course we also remembered that even the extremely heathy and virile are at risk here. You so much as say the wrong thing and you get your head bashed in and your nexk broke and no medicine will save you. RIP Celis Blanco, although if it were my ghost I would prefer to roam the afterlife restlessly looking for a way to haunt those bastards responsible for my death.

  9. Welcome back Naky. I am looking forward to a complete story of your experience, from the time you discovered your tumor through each step of your treatment.

    We are all hoping for a speedy recovery.

  10. Hi
    I suffered a heart attack last year and I receive glyceryl trinatrate sprays for relief of symptoms like angina. I have some spare (unused) sprays. I collect stamps and old coins – would anybody like to offer to swap stamps or old coins for a spray?


  11. So Naky, take good care…seek treatment outside of Venezuela if necessary..your country will need young people like you to recover from this whole mess.

    As to substance, you wrote that “resentment” was a,definite feature of Chavismo and it clarified in my mind why some people still support this regime when common sense says otherwise. Resenment and payback are long lasting and powerful emotions. Your mention of resentment made me think about a biography of Bolivar I am reading where the author mentions that your war for independence was more than anti volonialists versus royalists but involved a third force, black slaves,and indians who fought on the Spanish side fearing the landed gentry that wanted indepedence. Your comment suggests these divisions have still not healed. Great story and thanks.

  12. Naky—-great to see you back if only for a single post. I am sure I speak for all in saying that your daily updates are missed. Take care of yourself, we hope at some point you can return to being the morning must read.


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