Credit to CNN’s Issa Soares and the doctors she gets to comment on camera for this stunning exposé of the realities inside Venezuela.
Soares’ report begins in a major hospital in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. The Maduro government has praised China’s approach to the COVID pandemic, and claimed that its similar efforts have kept the virus under control. Soares’ report shines a glaring light on this lie. “COVID has unmasked Venezuela’s open wounds,” Soares reports, narrating appalling footage of a hospital that looks like something out of a zombie horror movie. Shackles hang from bars, the floors are filthy beyond words. One nurse has to provide care for an entire ward, and medical personnel have to work without masks or gloves. “The stench is unbearable.”
Soares’ valuable report provides stunning details: The power and water are only available, even in the hospitals, for an hour or two per day. And that’s the situation “day in, day out” in the capital as well as across the country.
Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. It once had abundant energy and the highest living standards in Latin America. Now it threatens doctors if they tell the truth about the devastation government policies are having throughout the country’s medical system and economy.
Soares’ nearly five-minute report rips the veil that dictator President Nicolas Maduro wants to keep in place: His country is now a full-on, starving basket case.
As conditions have worsened, the government has arrested doctors for speaking out, prompting more doctors to tell the truth.
CNN’s report is vital, but it omits direct mention of one of the single most important factors in Venezuela’s decline: socialism.
Hugo Chavez won the Venezuelan presidency on a socialist platform in 1998. At that time, Venezuela was the most prosperous country in Latin America and the third-most prosperous in the Americas, behind only the United States and Canada, and was in the top 15 economies in the world.
In 2020, Venezuela has fallen to #75 in the world. It has Chavez, Maduro, and their socialist dictatorship to blame. The BBC outlines some of the early Chavez policies that, while they may have sounded good to most Venezuelans at the time, put Venezuela on a path to self-destruction:
Domestically, Mr Chavez’s targets included the traditional political class with its strong ties to the US.
To counter their influence in the media, President Chavez promoted state television and pressured the judiciary to restrict the influence of privately-owned means of communication.
He also replaced technocrats in the state oil company (PDVSA) with loyal supporters.
Venezuela became increasingly politicised, with the debate focusing on the role of President Chavez himself.
To maintain political support, Mr Chavez expanded his social programmes using the income derived from high oil prices.
Minimum wages were increased sharply and many Venezuelans were lifted out of poverty.
Other social indicators, notably literacy, also improved and Mr Chavez and his political movement had little difficulty in defeating an opposition that was deeply divided and unable to adjust to the new Venezuelan realities.
Venezuelans were temporarily lifted out of poverty. Most Venezuelans are desperately poor now, according to Reuters:
The 2019-2020 National Survey of Living Conditions (ENCOVI), conducted by researchers at Andres Bello Catholic University (UCAB), found that 64.8% of Venezuelan households experienced “multidimensional poverty” in 2019, a measure that takes into account income as well as access to education and public services, among other factors.
That was 13.8% higher than the 51% figure recorded in 2018, the biggest one-year jump since the survey began in 2014. The country’s crude exports – the main source of government revenue in the socialist country – fell by a third to their lowest levels in 75 years in 2019.
Those oil reserves do the country no good when its government has nationalized oil producers, in the name of “equity,” and effectively destroyed them. Venezuela just convicted the Citgo-6, all American executives of Houston-based Citgo, on suspicious charges without an open and fair trail.
Despite all of this appalling poverty, despite Venezuela no longer even being able to feed itself, Maduro just consolidated even more power in elections — helped on both by his government’s controlling those elections, and by a senseless opposition boycott of them.
Venezuela’s hollowing out provides so many cautionary examples. But how can viewers of channels such as CNN learn any of them if, even in its boldest and most factual reports on the country’s plight, it fails to even mention the socialist policies and dictatorship that destroyed the once thriving country from within?