With each passing day the world learns something new and horrifying about the slow, steady economic decline and implosion of socialist Venezuela, but its leader, Nicolas Maduro, remains committed to the “revolution” that is destroying that once-vibrant South American oil producer.
Now, as reported by CNN, pictures released recently by the country’s political opposition show something you’d never expect to see in a modern hospital nursery: images of newborn babies sleeping in cardboard boxes, all lined up on a counter.
According to the opposition group, a hospital employee took the photos and passed them along.
The group claims that the images were taken at a government-run facility, Domingo Guzman Lander Hospital located in the coastal city of Barcelona, about 195 miles east of the capital of Caracas. While CNN reported that it has so far been unable to verify the veracity of the photos, and it isn’t clear when they were taken, they certainly fit the image of what is known about Venezuela these days: Economically speaking, it’s nearly broke, and its people are suffering from a lack of jobs, a lack of opportunities and a lack of food.
Replace facts and truth with propaganda
Officially, authorities are investigating the photos and the claims, according to the government bureaucrat who oversees the Barcelona hospital and other government-run healthcare facilities around the country.
Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, the coalition of opposition organizations that turned over the photos, noted that putting babies in boxes is another example of how the country’s healthcare system is collapsing.
“We in no way justify the actions taken,” Venezuelan Social Security Institute president Carlos Rotondaro said on Twitter in recent days. That said, he also defended the government’s healthcare system and, as always, blamed the poor conditions on someone else.
“Our hospitals take care of hundreds of patients, despite what some media are hiding. We recognize the failures and continue,” he wrote.
Shortly afterwards, the government hospital system tweeted out images of what officials said were current photos, along with a video which showed plastic, sanitary hospital bassinets in the nursery. Officials said that since January the same hospital has delivered more than 4,000 babies.
But propaganda is what Venezuela government officials do best. The facts are plain and clear: The country is failing economically, and it’s the government’s fault, because Maduro has doubled down on the failed socialism of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Socialism equals economic collapse and authoritarianism
As observed by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, a policy analyst on Latin America at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, those same socialist policies are not only tanking the economy of a country that was once a model for South American prosperity, but they are making it much more authoritarian.
“Venezuela was once South America’s richest country, taking in immigrants from all over the world. For many years, it was also a remarkable democracy in a region where most nations were ruled by military dictatorships. Today, socialism has turned Venezuela into an authoritarian basket case that thousands try to escape every year,” he wrote.
As for healthcare specifically, CNN reported further that doctors in the country recently warned the National Assembly that getting sick in Venezuela is tantamount to a death sentence.
The most recent statistics released by the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation in June said that the country was facing shortages of more than 80 percent of the medicines that doctors need to treat their patients. What’s more, the sad state of healthcare is leading to a brain drain: More than 13,000 physicians – 20 percent of Venezuela’s entire number of doctors – have left the country in recent years to look for better opportunities.