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.
— Johan del Magallanes (@JohanQpeo) October 5, 2016
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.
— Voice of America (@VOANews) October 6, 2016
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.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) October 4, 2016
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.
— Ruth Hatch (@25JessieSt) September 13, 2016
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.
— MIS GATOS (@MERENGTERNURITA) October 2, 2016
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.
— we are mitú (@wearemitu) October 3, 2016
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.”
— Learn Liberty (@LearnLiberty) September 28, 2016
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.
— Shaun Murray (@BestWebEnglish) September 20, 2016
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.
— InSight Crime (@InSightCrime) October 3, 2016
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.
— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) September 23, 2016
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.