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Venezuela, a Failing State

The medical student told me to use his name. He said he didn’t care. “Maduro is a donkey,” he said. “An asshole.” He meant Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela. We were passing through the wards of a large public hospital in Valencia, a city of roughly a million people, a hundred miles west of Caracas. The hallways were dim and stifling, thick with a frightening stench. Some were full of patients waiting silently in long lines outside exam rooms. Others were dark and deserted, with the overhead lighting ripped out. The medical student, lithe and light-haired, kept us moving, peering through swinging doors, conferring with colleagues in blue scrubs.We ducked into a room stuffed with rusted bed frames and dirty plastic barrels, where in a corner a thin young man was propped on a bed without sheets. He watched us weakly. A young woman in a pink T-shirt stood beside him, rigid with surprise. The medical student gently asked if they would answer my questions. The young man nodded. His name was Nestor. He was twenty-one. This was his wife, Grace. Three weeks earlier, he had been ambushed on his motorbike and shot three times, in the chest and the left arm. “They were going to shoot me again, but one of the malandros”—bad guys—“said I was already dead. They took my motorbike.” Nestor spoke slowly, his voice uninflected. His skin was waxy. The wounds to his arm and chest were uncovered, half healed, dark with dried blood. There was a saline drip in his right arm and, at the foot of his bed, an improvised contraption, made from twine and an old one-litre plastic bottle, whose purpose I couldn’t figure out.Did the hospital provide the saline?No. Grace brought it. She also brought food, water, and, when she could find them, bandages, pain medication, antibiotics. These things were available only on the black market, at high prices, and Grace’s job, in a warehouse, paid less than a dollar a day.“The hospital doesn’t even give water,” the medical student said. He was watching the hallway. He studied Nestor briefly. “The lungs fill with liquid after someone is shot in the thorax,” he told me. “We usually take the bullet out if we can. But, either way, the wounds need to be drained.”Were the police investigating the robbery?Nestor looked down. The naïveté of the question left it beneath reply. Venezuela has, by various measures, the world’s highest violent-crime rate. Less than two per cent of reported crimes are prosecuted.We had to go, the medical student said. Grace and Nestor thanked us, though we had done nothing for them. The medical student was worried about what he called “spies.” He had smuggled me into the hospital through a broken back door. The regular entrances to the hospital were all manned by uniformed personnel with rifles—National Guard, mostly, but also police, both local and national, and other, less identifiable militia. Hospitals in Caracas were even more tightly secured. Why were hospitals so heavily guarded? Nobody threatened to invade them. The guards had orders, it was said, to keep out journalists. Exposés had embarrassed the government.

Source: Venezuela, a Failing State – The New Yorker

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in South America

 

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The Secret, Dangerous World of Venezuelan Bitcoin Mining 

Four years ago, Alberto’s career prospects were bleak. The 23-year-old Venezuelan had just graduated from college with a degree in computer science, but his nation’s economy was already shredded by 13 years of socialism.

“There were job opportunities, but they paid like $20 a month, and we were used to traveling and buying things from abroad so we couldn’t settle for that,” his friend Luis recalls. Alberto and Luis—whose names have been changed for their own safety—teamed up to start a clothing business, but the venture floundered.

Then Alberto discovered bitcoin mining.

http://reason.com/archives/2016/11/28/the-secret-dangerous-world-of

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in South America

 

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Hungry Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse

The dark outlines of land had just come into view when the smuggler forced everyone into the sea.Roymar Bello screamed. She was one of 17 passengers who had climbed onto the overloaded fishing boat with aging motors in July, hoping to escape Venezuela’s economic disaster for a new life on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.Afraid of the authorities, the smuggler refused to land. Ms. Bello said he gruffly ordered her and the others into the water, pointing toward the distant shore. In the panic, she was tossed overboard, tumbling into the predawn blackness.But Ms. Bello could not swim.As she began to sink under the waves, a fellow migrant grabbed her by the hair and towed her toward the island. They washed up on a rocky cliff battered by waves. Bruised and bleeding, they climbed, praying for a lifeline: jobs, money, something to eat.“It was worth the risk,” said Ms. Bello, 30, adding that Venezuelans like her “are going after one thing: food.”

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in South America

 

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Entre diálogos y protestas, la oposición de Venezuela busca un cambio de gobierno

Este domingo, el gobierno venezolano iniciará un proceso de diálogo con la oposición en la isla de Margarita. Pero este acercamiento ha complicado el panorama para la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), la coalición que agrupa a los partidos opositores de Venezuela, que ahora muestra sus divisiones luego de que las autoridades electorales suspendieran la recolección firmas para activar la segunda fase del referendo revocatorio.
Una de las primeras reacciones de la oposición ante esta medida fue convocar a la marcha del 27 de octubre que se llamó la “Toma de Venezuela”. Líderes como Henrique Capriles Radonski y María Corina Machado declararon que no habían sido convocados al diálogo con el gobierno, y que se enteraron de las reuniones por la televisión.

http://www.nytimes.com/es/2016/10/28/entre-dialogos-y-protestas-la-oposicion-de-venezuela-busca-un-cambio-de-gobierno/

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in South America

 

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Venezuelans throng streets of Caracas seeking recall referendum for president 

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans poured on to the streets of Caracas on Thursday to protest against the government of Nicolás Maduro and to demand a recall referendum, despite attempts by police and national guard units to block access to the capital.

Demonstrators came from across the country and crowded the capital’s main avenues. Some were draped in the Venezuelan flag, while others wore white T-shirts as a symbol for peace.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/01/venezuelans-march-caracas-recall-referendum-rally

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in South America

 

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The Oil World in Chaos

Pity the poor petro-states. Once so wealthy from oil sales that they could finance wars, mega-projects, and domestic social peace simultaneously, some of them are now beset by internal strife or are on the brink of collapse as oil prices remain at ruinously low levels. Unlike other countries, which largely finance their governments through taxation, petro-states rely on their oil and natural gas revenues. Russia, for example, obtains about 50% of government income that way; Nigeria, 60%; and Saudi Arabia, a whopping 90%. When oil was selling at $100 per barrel or above, as was the case until 2014, these countries could finance lavish government projects and social welfare operations, ensuring widespread popular support.  Now, with oil below $50 and likely to persist at that level, they find themselves curbing public spending and fending off rising domestic discontent or even incipient revolt.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176145/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_the_oil_world_in_chaos/

 

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El crepúsculo del chavismo

A mediados de 2014, cuando el presidente Nicolás Maduro había logrado extinguir con una brutal represión la oleada de protestas denominadas #LaSalida, su gobierno comenzó a discutir un programa de ajustes para remediar la crisis económica que ya era imposible negar. Pese a los nubarrones, el petróleo estaba a 90 dólares por barril. Se flexibilizarían el control cambiario y los controles de precios y se revisarían las leyes laborales.

Había todavía margen de maniobra.

El plan había sido preparado por economistas competentes. No representaba un verdadero cambio de modelo, ni una panacea. Pero hubiese aliviado algunas de las aristas más dañinas de la crisis y podía haber sido el principio de un nuevo de rumbo.

http://prodavinci.com/blogs/el-crepusculo-del-chavismo-por-boris-munoz-3/

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2016 in South America

 

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Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals

By morning, three newborns were already dead.

The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.

Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.

“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/world/americas/dying-infants-and-no-medicine-inside-venezuelas-failing-hospitals.html?ref=topics&_r=1

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2016 in South America

 

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Venezuela se apaga

Afirma la lógica que la oscuridad no existe, que es solo ausencia de luz. Vaya y dígale eso a un venezolano para que le recuerde a su madre. Al país con la inflación más alta del planeta, una tasa de homicidios escandalosa y un dramático desabastecimiento de alimentos y medicinas, se añade otro problema que no es nuevo, que va y viene, como la lluvia, los recuerdos y la corrupción: los recortes del servicio eléctrico.

El presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, anunció que los viernes serán no laborables para los empleados públicos. El pasado martes, su vicepresidente, Aristóbulo Istúriz afirmó que esta medida se extenderá a miércoles y jueves. Lo hizo desde la central hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar de Guri, en el estado Bolívar, la tercera más grande del mundo. Este aparato burocrático, que se estima entre 2,5 y 3 millones de empleados, solo trabajará lunes y martes. ¿La razón? Ahorrar electricidad. Palabras del Ejecutivo.

http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/elmundo/venezuela-se-apaga-articulo-629930

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2016 in South America

 

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Impasse na Venezuela denuncia golpe político

Uma semana após a posse da nova Assembleia Nacional da Venezuela, o Tribunal Supremo de Justiça (TSJ) considerou seu presidente, Henry Ramos Allup, em desacato e anulou as medidas aprovadas ou em discussão pela Casa até agora, entre elas, a lei de anistia que poderá beneficiar cerca de cinco mil exilados e presos políticos do governo de Nicolás Maduro. O impasse está na decisão do presidente da Assembleia de dar posse a três deputados da oposição impugnados pelo TSJ sob a acusação de fraude. Para a oposição, a impugnação é irregular e a posse dos deputados, garantida pela Constituição.

http://www.josenildomelo.com.br/news/impasse-na-venezuela-denuncia-golpe-politico-editorial-o-globo/

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in South America

 

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