The number of children who have died of malnutrition so far in 2018 in Monagas state has reached forty seven, reports El Pitazo.
Yacirka Vasquez,the head of emergency pediatrics at the Dr. Manuel Núñez Tovar University Hospital in Maturin, the capital of Monagas, revealed the figure. Vasquez stressed that the deaths are not limited to rural areas: on the contrary, 70% correspond to children who lived in the city of Maturin.
Vasquez also said that the majority of the deaths were registered between February and July, and that victims tend to be infants who lived mostly on a diet of oatmeal and rice. Given the catastrophic economic collapse that Venezuela is currently experiencing, oatmeal and rice are among the few staples that parents may be able to afford with any consistency.
Citing doctors at the hospital “whose names have been omitted [at their request] due to fear of reprisals”, El Pitazo reports:
These drinks [made of oatmeal and rice] damage the stomach [and] bloat the infant because they are carbohydrates. The doctors affirm that a lack of information results in parents believing that their children are getting [adequate nutrition]. What happens is that they gain weight, but are not being nourished.
Venezuela is currently experiencing one of the worst economic crisis in Latin American history. With an inflation rate predicted to reach 1,000,000% at the end of the year, each passing day places even the most basic foodstuffs out of reach of an increasing number of Venezuelans.
Former Treasurer Admits to Taking Over $1 Billion in Bribes
Court documents unsealed today revealed that Alejandro Andrade, a former treasurer who served in the cabinet of Hugo Chavez, pleaded guilty in September to taking more than $1 billion in bribes while he held his position. The news broke through Reuters, which explains:
Alejandro Andrade, who ran the treasury for four years under late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, received properties, platinum and gold Rolex watches and Mercedes Benz vehicles thanks to the scheme, the documents from the Southern District of Florida say.
Andrade served as treasurer between 2007 and 2011.
According to Reuters, Andrade made his illicit fortune with the help of Raul Gorrin, a Venezuelan businessman and owner of the Globovision television network. Gorrin was also indicted by a U.S. court in connection with the corruption scheme.
Andrade and Gorrin manipulated a foreign currency exchange system that was put into effect in Venezuela by Hugo Chavez in 2003. The system–the remnants of which are still in effect today–allowed powerful individuals like Andrade and Gorrin to buy U.S. dollars for cheap, draining government coffers of money that could have been spent on importing food and medicine into their own pockets.
The scheme was so popular that it spawned a new social class in Venezuela: the bolibourgeoisie, a term used to describe individuals who amassed vast fortunes through corrupt schemes under the government of Hugo Chavez.
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