Things That Matter

Babies Are Being Born In Boxes Because No Money, But The Miss Venezuela Pageant Must Go On

The economically crippled country of Venezuela has been making headlines for the horrific, and sometimes apocalyptic, scenes devastating the people. Yet, somehow, Venezuela was able to scrape together enough cash to hold their 2016 Miss Venezuela beauty pageant. Twitter was alive with photos mocking the opening outfits and ignoring the plight of Venezuelans. Here are the things we should really be focusing on when it comes to Venezuela. Spoiler: It’s not the pageant.

These were the #MissVenezuela outfits that made the world pay attention to Venezuela.


Floral, flowing and totally full of great puns and jokes a la Kim Kardashian’s infamous couch dress.

And, of course, people went right for the jokes and mocked the outfits.


But, tbh, this is really not the part of Venezuela that the world should be focusing on. The country is falling apart economically and the victims are numerous. People and animals are suffering, yet the world only noticed the Miss Venezuela opening outfits.

1. Government oil workers are so strapped for cash, they are left selling their uniforms to get food.


According to Business Insider, workers of the government-run oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), have had to resort to selling their uniforms, boots and gloves at markets to make enough money just to survive. Jobs at PDVSA have long been regarded as a very good job in Venezuela, but severe inflation has left the “above average” salaries feeling like nothing.

“Most of us aren’t as productive as we used to be, because we’re more focused on how to survive economically,” a PVDSA maintenance worker anonymously told Business Insider.

2. Medicine is becoming so rare that a scraped knee could lead to death.


NBC News reports that medical care in Venezuela is reaching a tipping point that is leaving Venezuelans scrambling for help. Since 2014, the number of hospital beds available for sick Venezuelans has plummeted by 40 percent. To make matters more dire, one-third of patients admitted to hospitals died last year.

“I really don’t know of any other country where things have deteriorated so quickly, to such an incredible extent,” Rafael Perez-Escamilla, a Yale University School of Public Health professor, told NBC News. “Venezuela’s health system was a model for Latin America. Now you are seeing an implosion where people cannot get basic care.”

3. Pets are being abandoned by families who can no longer care for them and some are left to fend for themselves on the streets.


A report by CNN shed light on the impact of Venezuela’s economic recession is having on the most innocent of victims: the family pet. According to activists interviewed by CNN, there has been a 50 percent spike in the number of abandoned pets. Dog food has become an unattainable luxury with a 3-lb bag of dog food costing anywhere between $1,500 to $2,000 USD (15,000 to 20,000 bolivares).

4. The collapse of the healthcare system is leaving the mentally ill without help.


Medication used to stop infections are not the only medicine that is going missing in the South American country. As Venezuela slips deeper and deeper into their economic recession, antipsychotic medicine is running out. This is leaving countless Venezuelans dealing with mental illness without the medication they need to keep their ailments at bay. According to The New York Times, thousands of mental patients are being released from wards and hospitals because they can no longer treat them.

Images from the mental hospitals in Venezuela are heartbreaking. They show emaciated patients crawling naked on the floors as medication and food quickly ran out.

5. Children are literally passing out in class because they are starving.


The Telegraph has reported that nearly 50 percent of Venezuelan children are not getting three meals a day. The lack of food and exploding inflation has left parents with the tough choice of either feeding their children or sending them to school. As a result, the number of students attending class has been falling fast.

“In June, practically half [of my students] were not attending school because the families had to choose between spending money on transport or food,” Juan Maragall, who works with hundreds of public schools in the state of Miranda, told The Telegraph.

6. The government is cracking down on people who are buying “too much food.”


The Washington Post has reported that people are being arrested for trying to buy food. Since the recession, the government has implemented punishments and “laws” that did not exist in the past. Mainly, the government is taking part in what is being termed “Dracula’s Bus.” “Dracula’s Bus” is the practice by the Venezuelan national guard where people who are waiting overnight for super markets to open are arrested because they were waiting for food overnight. It isn’t just standing outside of a store after hours that will get you arrested for a food related incident. You can also be arrested if you are suspected of hoarding or reselling goods.

7. Newborns are being held in cardboard boxes after their birth.


Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, a coalition of organizations that are against the Nicolás Maduro government, released photos of newborn babies in a government-run hospital being held in cardboard boxes. The photos are reportedly taken from Domingo Guzmán Lander Hospital in Barcelona, Venezuela. Some Venezuelan government officials took to Twitter to dismiss the claims that newborns are being held in cardboard boxes and have even released photos of a hospital nursery you would expect.

8. Kidnappings in Venezuela have doubled since 2015.


According to Insight Crime, there were 219 kidnappings in 2015 with nine deaths and 208 people safely rescued. So far in 2016, the number of kidnappings in Venezuela has spiked to 411 with 375 successful rescues and 18 deaths. Runrun.es is the organization that obtained the documents to show the increase in kidnappings, with Miranda being the hardest hit.

9. Venezuelan activists trying to show the world what is happening in their country are being jailed.


According to Fusion, three activists were arrested for creating a powerful political video pointing out the disparity of Venezuelan soldiers repressing protestors. The video shows a young woman text her father that her mother is ill and needs medicine. She then opens the refrigerator and lets him know that she is going to wait in the line for food. As she emerges from the house, she texts him again to let him know that the people he is being told to repress are dealing with the same troubles and problems that they are dealing with.


READ: This Venezuelan Woman’s Desperate Pleas For Help Will Break Your Heart

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These Men Represented Their Country In The Mister Global Pageant And We Are Living For These ‘National Costumes’

Culture

These Men Represented Their Country In The Mister Global Pageant And We Are Living For These ‘National Costumes’

David Ryo / Facebook

As any beauty pageant fan knows, the best part of the competition is the National Costume Show — a segment designed to showcase clothing that honors and celebrates contestants’ home countries.

Every year, outfits seem to get increasingly complicated, ornate, or simply engineered to go viral. This year’s Mister Global, an annual male beauty pageant founded in 2014, was no exception.

Same as every year, the most attention goes to pageant’s national outfits showcase.

Credit: David Ryo / Facebook

As always, the most visually enticing and talked-about competition of the Mister Global pageant is the National Costume Contest, during which each guy shows off his country’s heritage through an elaborate costume. “The winning costume is not about the size or design but the story and culture behind it,” says Kitti Kamjunsa, spokesperson of the male beauty pageant.

The pageant was won by Korea‘s Jong Woo Kim, who is a 23-year-old police administration student and model.

Credit: officialmisterglobal / Instagram

Jong Woo Kim is set to become an inspirational role model for young men all around the world. He will also become a Global Goodwill Ambassador and participate in environmental and charitable projects.

Among the other men who made it to the finals are Houssem Saïdi of Tunisia (first runner-up), José Luis Rodrigo Navarro of Spain (second runner-up), Kenan Murseli of Switzerland (third runner-up) and Braulio Encarnación of Dominican Republic (fourth runner-up).

Although a Latino didn’t win Mister Global this year, they still featured some of our favorite looks from the pageant.

MEXICO

Credit: Missosology

Mexico is a land of many different cultures. In the capital city, there’s even a park called Plaza de Las Tres Culturas. From the Aztec and the Mixtec to the Maya and the Zapotec, Mexico is rich in cultural identity. But according t Manuel Duarte, this year’s Mister Mexico, his look was inspired by the ancient Maya civilization.

BRAZIL

Mister Brazil won in 2017. Do you think this look would of helped him win this year?

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Braulio Encarnación, Mister Dominican Republic, was the fourth runner-up.

PANAMA

Mister Panama came out in full on Carnival flare and yet left little to the imagination. Also, that smile…

PERU

Mister Peru seems to be channeling the ancient Inca people, who lived in Peru through the late 1500s – until they were eradicated by the Spanish.

CHILE

One look at the Facebook reactions to Mister Chile and you can see that he did his country proud.

PUERTO RICO

This year’s Mister Puerto Rico was Edgar Irizarry. His costume “paid tribute to the indigenous people of Puerto Rico; the taínos,” Irizarry told Insider. “The costume I wore was designed to resemble the Cacique Taíno,” or a leader of the group.

CUBA

Mister Cuba 2019 is Rubert Manuel Arias Solozábal. This was the first year Cuba was represented in the pageant and he went all in. I mean a costume doesn’t get more Cuban than this.

And, of course, there’s the USA:

The Twitter reactions to Mister USA were hardly positive. Sure, Superman may be ‘native’ to the US in that he was created there and is a part of American pop culture. But with the immense cultural diversity of the US’s Native American tribes, many questioned by they weren’t used as an inspiration for the look.

These national costume looks are incredible but let’s not forget the guys also had a swimsuit competition.

For a more complete look at those looks check them out here.

The Venezuelan Government Has Stopped Buying HIV And AIDS Medication

Things That Matter

The Venezuelan Government Has Stopped Buying HIV And AIDS Medication

Unsplash

While the international news about Venezuela may have subsided just a tiny bit, make no mistake that the crisis is still very alive. The difference now is that Venezuelans are not only protesting President Nicolás Maduro, but also President Donald Trump. For years, Venezuelans have pleaded that they’re in dire need of food and other essentials, but it’s as if no one seems to care. Trump has now imposed more economic sanctions on Venezuela, though it may be all smoke and mirrors. The reality is people want Maduro out, and they want to be able to survive there too. Most low-income people have to travel to Colombia in order to get essentials that they cannot get back home. But now the most vulnerable are paying the price.

The health care system of Venezuela has stopped purchasing HIV and AIDS medication, which means an estimated 7,700 Venezuelans that are living with the disease are facing a significant emergency.

Credit: @cmternes / Twitter

A new report in Foreign Policy informs that due to the dire situation in Venezuela, their healthcare system has been unable to purchase HIV/AIDS medication. This is putting thousands of people infected at risk. The turmoil of the country’s healthcare is the result of the corruption that has plagued Venezuela since former President Hugo Chávez was in charge. It’s even worse now under Maduro.

“As a result, the country’s medical system is severely under-resourced, FP reports. “Government funding for medical care has been slashed, more than half the country’s doctors have fled Venezuela, and drastic shortages in medical equipment have hampered the ability of hospitals to provide even basic treatment for their patients.”

People with HIV or AIDS are not the only ones suffering from this downturn in medical supplies; others, including children, need basic vaccines as well. 

Credit: @PattyLayla / Twitter

Marisol Ramírez is a 56-year-old Venezuelan who travels to Colombia not just for medication but also for food. She said she sometimes has to decide between food or medicine because it is too expensive to get both. Many others are in the same position. 

Just last month, they gave me enough [antiretroviral drugs] for three months, because due to the situation in the country, we can’t be going up and down to get here. The price of [bus] tickets are incredibly high, and we can’t be coming down here every month,” Marisol Ramírez told Foreign Policy.

There is some hope. The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) are reportedly going to send 12,000 doses of HIV/AIDS medication, but there are still several issues. 

Credit: @ReuterVZLA / Twitter

“When I was there I actually signed a letter of intent with the minister of health Juan Pablo Uribe for the United States to be providing HIV antiretrovirals to Colombia for the use with Venezuelan refugees,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar told Reuters. Azar also said there’s a plan in place to rebuild the healthcare system once Maduro is out, but who knows when that will be. 

“If you don’t have any money … or you don’t support the current government you don’t have anything,” a Venezuelan man told the Washington Blade. “It is, unfortunately, very sad.”

Some may assume that because HIV and AIDS are treatable that it’s not a problem like it was in previous years. However, people are only surviving this terrible illness because of medication, so, without it, people are likely to die. 

Credit: @PeterTatchell / Twitter

Jesus Aguais, founder of Aid for AIDS, an international organization, said that 80 percent of Venezuelans “with HIV who should be on treatment are not,” and added, “That’s terrible from a public health perspective. Not only are people going to get sicker, but HIV is going to spread faster.”

He also said another vulnerable group that is suffering from this disease that is not getting the help they deserve is the indigenous Warao community. He noted that HIV and AIDS are affecting them, and if they don’t get the proper medication, the community as a whole may be completely wiped out.

READ: The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now