Freddy Ceballos, the head of the Federacion Farmaceutica de Venezuela [Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation] (FEFARVEN) painted a grim picture of the country’s medicine shortage, calling it “very serious”. He also criticized a government tactic that has become a hallmark of Maduro’s presidency: calling for meetings and consultations to propose solutions to the country’s problems while actually achieving very little. Ceballos said:

There’s no “tomorrow” here. We can’t wait anymore. We can’t stand any more meetings. The medicine situation is extremely serious.

In an interview with Union Radio, Ceballos said that the ultimate cost of failing to address the country’s chronic medicine shortage is people’s lives:

The problem with healthcare here is that we pay for it with people’s lives. You don’t pay with money. You pay with lives.

El Universal points out that Venezuela is currently suffering a medicine shortage that is topping the 80% mark. The shortages affect everything from common cold medicines to chemotherapy drugs, as well as medical equipment in general.

For Ceballos, the heart of the shortage lies with the fact that the national government has outstanding debt of $6 billion with medical producers and distributors going back three years.

Once again asking that Maduro stop “getting ministries and meetings involved”, Ceballos said:

I’m asking the President of the Republic – with all due respect that he deserves for being the President of the Republic – to please get on the phone with the medical producers. Don’t send the Ministry of Health, don’t send the Vice-President of the Republic. There’s no “tomorrow”. These decisions have to be made right now. We’ve got a very serious situation in the country. We’re at the gates of an epidemic.

Maduro Joins Facebook

Maduro officially joined Facebook yesterday and posted a message to Venezuelans to inaugurate his wall. He also added two pictures showing him and his spouse, First Combatant Cilia Flores, holding a meeting to discuss the country’s economic situation.

Maduro’s first Facebook message can be seen below, along with my translation:

Today, Tuesday February 9… the Carnaval Tuesday of 2016 I want to widen the scope of my activities to Social Media and starting today I will write on my Facebook account.

Today I met with a coordinating team from the Bolivarian Economic Agenda, which is headed by Executive Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz; I went over the whole agenda of decisions that I’ve been implemented along with the National Council for the Productive Economy.

I’m also following up on the Security Plan and our compatriot’s return [to their homes] after enjoying the 2016 Carnaval season with their families.

The meeting is over now and we’re moving out to implement the decisions. I want to thank this working group which along with millions of compatriots will build the future for a New Productive Economy.

In the first 24 hours since creating his account, Maduro’s page has accumulated over 156,000 “likes”.

CAVECECO: Only 50% of Malls Have Generators

Alfredo Cohen, the president of the Venezuelan Chamber of Shopping Malls (CAVECECO), said in an interview that aired on Televen earlier today that only 50% of the country’s shopping malls have electrical generators, meaning that the other half cannot comply with a recent request by the Ministry of Electrical Energy to generate their own power during peak hours.

Cohen also said that all of the country’s shopping malls account for only 2.92% of the energy demand on the Venezuelan power grid, calling into question the ministry’s logic of requesting such a drastic measure for relatively little gain.

Cohen also pushed for a compromise that would see malls open for shorter but consecutive hours, instead of the ministry’s proposal that would see some malls forced to close during two different set of times during the day. Cohen said that by working from noon to 7:00 PM, malls would still be saving four hour’s worth of energy consumption, a measure which Cohen said:

… would be less traumatic for our visitors.

Cohen also said that certain tenants would find the ministry’s dual-shutdown request simply unfeasible:

Our priorities are the food courts, banks, movie theaters, security cameras and the parking lot lighting so that we can keep our doors open even if the stores are closed.

Thieves Steal From A Dozen Cars in Residential Underground Parking Lot

Residents of the Karala Karolin residential building in Maracaibo, Zulia state awoke to find at least twelve vehicles in the building’s underground parking garage had been broken into and salvaged for parts. At least twelve cars had their batteries stolen. Thieve also made out with twelve tires, along with an unspecified amount of headlights and miscellaneous accessories.

Aside from the mass of break ins, two vehicles were stolen: a Ford Explorer and a Hyundai Tucson.

The building’s security guard was overwhelmed by at least ten thieves, who threatened to kill him unless he let them into the building. A resident who witnessed the moments after the thieves arrived said:

They threatened to kill him, and he took them up to the [lobby] of the building along with four [residents] who were just coming home, while the rest of the thieves took tires, batteries and accessories from the cars that were in the parking lot. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it into any of the apartment units where they could have hurt us.

Below, a picture of the state one of the cars was left in, taken from Panorama:

Aside from food and medicine shortages, Venezuela also suffers from a chronic shortage of repair parts for vehicles.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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