The Asociacion de Clinicas y Hospitales [Association of Hospitals and Clinics] issued a statement today saying that 20 areas of specialization – including oncology and anaesthesiology – are suffering from “partial or absolute” lack of medical supplies. As a result, Carlos Rosales – the president of the association – has asked the government to declare a “humanitarian crisis” due to the dangerous shortage.
According to Rosales, the supplies facing shortages range from the most basic medicines to medical equipment and repair parts. Rosales pointed out that over the last few weeks, anaesthetics have been in short supply, leading to the cancellation of elective surgeries in most of the hospitals throughout the country.
This [situation] puts the lives of sick human beings at risk. (…) it is urgent that the national government take the appropriate decisions to allow for the flow of foreign currency [so that] the process of importing [supplies can begin].
The Venezuelan government owes an estimated $350 million to foreign medical suppliers, of which at least $900,000 is owed to pharmaceutical companies.
Unconditional Release for 78 Held Since May
Today, a judge in Caracas released 78 students arrested this past May 14 in and around Plaza Altamira without any conditions.
Nizar El Fakih, a lawyer working the case from the Centro de Derechos Humanos [Center for Human Rights] at the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello hailed the decision as the only possible resolution to the case, saying:
The sobreseimiento [a legal term roughly meaning “dropping of the charges”] comes because there was no evidence against the students and because they never should have been detained, much less processed. This is a demonstration of the current arbitrary nature of the Venezuelan state.
The students were released after spending more than three months behind bars. One of the students, Kleiber Martinez, spent his time in the notorious Yare prison, the site of a riot in 2012 that left 25 people dead.
Government Considers Extending Shopping Card to Private Sector
Back in March, the government launched something called the Tarjeta de Abastecimineto Seguro [roughly, “Sure-Stock Card”]. The card, launched only at state-owned supermarket chains, would track individual purchases. The point of the card was to set a limit on how much of a certain product a user could buy within a certain period. For example, the card might only allow you to buy 10 bags of sugar per month. If you tried to buy and 11th bag, your card would be declined, and you would be unable to make the purchase.
Today, the government announced that it was considering extending the card to include private supermarket chains. Use of the card is voluntary at the moment.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Manuel Fernandez, said that a pilot project to test the card’s expansion will be developed over the next 90 days, and that he expects the project to start as early as next year.
At the time the card the first card was announced, some Venezuelans predicted that in the future, use of the card would be extended to the private sector and made mandatory, effectively creating a rationing system.
Finally, a picture allegedly showing a protest today at a Colgate product factory in Valencia, Carabobo state: