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Venezuela’s Medicine Blockage

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Venezuela is experiencing  a severe humanitarian crisis with shortages in food and medical care. Norma Camero Reno is a Venezuelan born lawyer and founder of the non-profit organization, Move Foundation, which has been sending much needed medicines from the United States to Venezuela. Until recently Norma and her organization have been successful at doing so – or so they thought.

After a visit to Venezuela, Norma discovered that the supplies had not actually reached her contacts in order to be distributed. Instead, Venezuelan officials have been taking everything for themselves and have been stopping supplies from being distributed to the needy. Norma remarks that food shipments have been previously confiscated but this is the first time that medicine has purposefully been prevented from being delivered. The Move Foundation isn’t the only organization to have been thwarted in their attempts to send aid. Sanando and Caritas are experiencing similar problems with the drugs blockage.

This crisis, which has been going on a few years already, is steadily getting worse due to the soaring inflation rates and economic mismanagement caused by the socialist government and Nicolas Maduro. Maduro has also banned many items in addition to the medical supplies such as gas masks, antacids, latex gloves and more.

Venezuelan government officials have claimed that the shortages are due to the political opposition yet they have provided no evidence to back this up. Yet it could well be that the government’s own policies are contributing towards the problem. To make matters worse, the government has made very little effort in trying to secure international assistance.

NGO Caritas is demanding that Maduro immediately declare the country to be in a state of humanitarian crisis. The organization has been monitoring the situation and has seen a shocking rise in levels of malnutrition, especially among children.

Lillian Tintori, wife of a jailed opposition leader, has been urging Maduro to open a “humanitarian channel” and allow medical supplies into the country. She has repeatedly emphasized that this is something that will help Venezuelans on a humanitarian level and is completely separate from politics. Lillian, who has lead many protests, has become the face of the opposition and has urged governments around the world to pressure Maduro into releasing her husband as well as hundreds of political prisoners that are being held.

The Human Rights Watch has also been heavily involved in attempting to help the situation. They have made many recommendations to Maduro and his administration after conducting interviews and field research to understand the scope of the crisis. Unfortunately the Venezuelan government has repeatedly downplayed the situation.

At the moment, it looks like aid organizations will be forced to stop sending drugs into Venezuela due to the government thwarting their efforts. Norma has halted the medical supply shipments as her organization does not want it ending up in the government’s hands. Elections are looming but things aren’t necessarily looking any better, and they might be forced to stop sending in aid altogether. Several foreign governments have condemned the anti-democratic charter. Polls show that 80% of the population favors Maduro’s removal yet the opposition has ruled out participating in the election since they consider the process fraudulent. Citizens are not having access to the drugs they need or even basic nutrition. While the government continues to block aid from humanitarian organizations, its citizens are suffering.

Click here to read about what to do with expired medication.

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