Two Venezuelan medical students were arrested by authorities for photographing the dire conditions at a hospital in Barquisimeto, Lara state, as the country’s humanitarian crisis continues to worsen.
The students, identified as Mirian Valiño and María Brizuela, were arrested after their photo of two women giving birth in a waiting room sparked outrage across social media. The photo shows medical staff forced to improvise due to a chronic lack of resources:
— TVVenezuela Noticias (@TVVnoticias) October 2, 2017
In a message posted on social media in response to the photo, Central Hospital of Barquisimeto said they did not have sufficient resources to meet the demands of patients.
“As a result of multiple deaths in hospitals across this region, our health center has ended up being the only one in operation, creating a collapse in the health system and meaning we can not attend every patient. We are the only center with a fully active maternity hospital,” the hospital wrote on Twitter.
However, after touring the hospital, the socialist regime’s Deputy Minister of Health Linda Amaro blamed local authorities for mismanaging the hospital.
A photo taken last week from the Dr. Raúl Leoni Hospital in San Félix also showed other women giving birth on the floor:
— Dra. María Yanes H. (@mariayanesh) September 25, 2017
In recent months, several non-governmental organizations across Venezuela have urged the creation of an international humanitarian channel to face the crisis that the country is experiencing.
In March, the country’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro pleaded with the United Nations to deliver medical aid to the country after refusing to do so for months. However, a report from Fox News in June found that authorities were blocking nearly all aid shipments from the United States and, instead, confiscating supplies and keeping them for themselves.
Despite former leader Hugo Chávez including the right to health care in his version of the Venezuelan constitution, the Maduro regime has been forced to make a series of drastic cuts amid the total collapse of the economy, meaning hundreds of thousands of people cannot access even the most basic healthcare.
Recent reports have revealed that Venezuelan hospitals had begun asking patients to bring their own bandages, gauze, and medicine. Women have increasingly turned to sterilization as a means of birth control. Meanwhile, in 2015, poor sanitary conditions led to an infestation of opossums that caused the death of 17 babies.
The chronic lack of medicine has led to a rise in amputations of infected limbs, mastectomies due to a lack of cancer treatment, and a spike in HIV diagnoses and teen pregnancies due to the shortage of contraceptives.
Many of Venezuela’s problems are a result of skyrocketing inflation which has rendered basic resources unaffordable and left millions living in abject poverty. Despite three minimum wage hikes over the course of 2017, the country’s monthly minimum wage of 97,500 bolivars is now equivalent to around $3.32 a month.