Last week, media reports began to surface saying that at least 30 patients staying at the J.M. de los Rios Hospital, a children’s hospital in Caracas, had gone to sleep without eating anything for dinner due to a complete lack of food. Today, the hospital’s director, Mayra Oviedo, confirmed the news, saying:

We haven’t received [baby formula] since October. The Ministry of Health supplies us (…) At a certain point it became humiliating. We followed every step at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Nutrition so that they could sell us the [baby formula] wholesale. We told the Capital District Health Directorate of our situation, and made an agreement with [the patient’s] parents that they were responsible for finding their own milk.

According to Oviedo, the Ministry of Health’s inability to provide them with food for their patients since October forced the hospital staff to try to find food in local supermarkets. However, given the severity of the scarcity crisis affecting the country, even that measure proved fruitless.

Oviedo explained:

We’ve gone to Locatel, Farmatodo, in the Bicentenario, but they won’t sell us large quantities. They only sell us two [items] per person, and now they’re asking for our date of birth.

To help alleviate the scarcity crisis, Venezuelan supermarkets have resorted to rationing not only by limiting the amount of any one particular item shoppers are allowed to buy at once, but also by restricting access to shop based on the last digit of the shopper’s national ID number. Requesting a shopper’s birth certificate as a means to restrict access to goods is another one of these measures.

Particularly hard hit by the scarcity at the hospital are newborn babies who depend on baby formula to survive. Huniades Urbina, the president of the Sociedad de Pediatria de Venezuela [Venezuelan Pediatric Society] and former director of the hospital told El Nacional that at any given moment, as many as 60% of the hospital’s patients may be newborn children.

Attack on Police Station Leaves Three Officers Dead

Early this morning, a group of at least ten assailants opened fire on a CICPC police station in El Valle, Caracas. As a result, three officers at the scene died.

While the CICPC has yet to make an official statement on the attack, La Patilla reports that ten armed men broke into the station’s administrative office and opened fire on the officers there “without giving them a chance to react”. The assailants then headed to the station’s jail, where they proceeded to open the doors and release an unknown number of prisoners.

Deputy: $30 Billion in Infrastructure Money Missing

The National Assembly has a body called the Mixed Commission for the Study of Electrical Energy. Its head, MUD deputy Jorge Millan, alleged today that $30 billion in state funds destined to maintain and improve Venezuela’s electrical system were systematically stolen over the past 17 years of PSUV rule. Millan made the comments during a meeting with former Minister of Electrical Energy Hector Navarro, who was there to provide his expertise in the area.

Millan said that during the meeting, Navarro explained that such is the state of the country’s electrical system that the national government’s continued calls for elecricity ratinoing are an ultimately meaningless measure.

Polimiranda Short ~4,500 Officers

Elisio Guzman, the director of the Miranda state police service (Polimiranda) announced yesterday that his force was short by approximately 4,500 officers. While the state needs approximately 6,000 officers to meet its policing goals, it currently only counts with 1,589.

Guzman explained that Polimiranda lost 332 officers last year, a figure that he broke down in the following way:

  • 30 officers fired
  • 277 officers resigned
  • 12 officers killed in action
  • 2 officers retired
  • 2 “excluded in accordance with Article 91” [I am not clear on what this means]

Of the 277 officers that resigned, Guzman explained that 76% of them did so with the hopes of finding better paying work somewhere else.

Guzman also provided general crime statistics for the state. He pointed out that the homicide rate jumped 16% from 2014, and that there were a total of 2,419 murders in the state in all of 2015. The only crime that saw a decrease from 2014 was vehicle theft, which dropped by 7% in 2015.

Bomb Scare Forces AN Admin Building Evacuation

The National Assembly’s administrative building was evacuated this morning at approximately 10:30 AM after a suspicious package was discovered on the premises. At the time of the evacuation, several parliamentary commissions were in the building working on legislative matters.

SEBIN and National Guard officers responded to the scene along with firefighters, who inspected the package and determined it to be harmless.

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

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