Venezuela Police Attack Patients, Doctors at Hospital Shortages Protest

Students demonstrate against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the streets of San Cristobal, in the Venezuelan border state of Tachira, close to Colombia, on November 3, 2016. Venezuela's opposition began a tense truce on Wednesday with President Nicolas Maduro, but supporters accused it of betraying them amid …
GEORGE CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images

Police in Venezuela attacked patients and doctors protesting outside the country’s Health Ministry in Caracas on Wednesday, marking the latest incident of police brutality in the failed socialist state.

According to the Latin America Herald Tribune, protesters were shouting genocidas – “genocide perpetrators” – over the current collapse of the country’s health system. They also demanded a meeting with Health Minister Luis López, who refused to attend.

After they tried to gain access to the building, local police responded by engaging in a “shoving match” with the protesters, many of whom are patients suffering from diseases such as Parkinson’s and HIV and are now failing to receive their required medication provided by the government.

The Vice Minister of Health Jessyca Aleman met with some protesters, including Francisco Valencia, the head of the medical NGO Codevida, who confirmed that the government simply lacked the necessary capacity to respond.

“The government just does not have the response capacity in the face of the magnitude of what is happening with the medicines’ shortages,” Francisco told NTN24 following the meeting.

“We will have to go to Miraflores to demand solutions from President Nicolás Maduro,” he continued. “Enough with all of the deaths! The government has the solution in its hands by activating international cooperation mechanisms.”

Similar healthcare demonstrations also took place around the country. The NGO Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict recorded protests over the medical crisis in all 23 states.

Members of the Venezuelan opposition have previously pleaded with the international community to open a “humanitarian corridor” to help mitigate the impact of the humanitarian crisis, but few aid efforts appear to be in place.

Under his failed socialist revolution, former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez enshrined government-provided health care in his version of the Venezuelan constitution. Yet amid the country’s devastating economic collapse, authorities can no longer provide basic healthcare to patients amid a series of drastic cuts and simple lack of money.

Shocking reports from inside the country include cases of patients being asked to bring their own bandages, gauze, and medicine, while the chronic lack of medicine has led to a rise in amputations of infected limbs, more mastectomies due to a lack of cancer treatment, and a spike in HIV diagnoses and teen pregnancies due to shortages of contraceptives.

Last December, Venezuelan outlet El Nacional published an in-depth report titled “Venezuela’s Health Holocaust” to bring attention to the severity of the country’s health crisis that included cases of mothers being forced to forego their medicine in order to provide their children with breast milk.

“The reason we refer to the health crisis as a ‘holocaust’ is that the government has kept hospitals in a precarious situation, not placing as the necessary amount of medical supplies needed for emergency care,” said Douglas León Natera, president of the Venezuelan medical association on the report’s publishing. “It sounds a bit harsh but this is the reality.”

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