Patricia Tagliaferri is a Venezuelan woman with a message: “We need help.” Venezuela has been in the grips of a major recession. Basic household goods like tampons, food and even toilet paper have become scarce. How bad is inflation in Venezuela? A cheeseburger will run you $170 dollars. This woman’s cries for help puts a human face on the Venezuelan crisis.
Food is becoming so scarce in Venezuela that people are looting grocery stores and overturning trucks to steal food. People are brawling in Venezuela for food as grocery stores sit empty with nothing to offer their customers.
The night before she recorded the video, three armed men stole her car in front of her and her family. Their 2-year-old son was there to witness the robbery.
Tagliaferri says she does not consider herself a political activist. She maintains she is simply a person who is hungry and needs the world to start paying attention to the problems affecting her country.
After The Washington Post published a story on “Trump’s lost summer,” The White House responded with a nearly two-minute retaliation video titled “The Summer of Winning,” complete with an animated, red “Fake News” stamp on The Washington Postlogo. The video is a montage of scenes from the summer which are meant to serve as examples of “wins” for the Trump administration. Included in those “wins” is Trump simply showing up to the mass shooting that targeted Latinos in El Paso, threatening tariff wars with México and China as a means of diplomacy, and becoming the first President to visit the dictatorship of North Korea.
Here’s a breakdown of what Trump considers to be a “win” in his book.
The video begins with The White House attempting to discredit free press.
Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.Jeff Bezos also owns online retail giant Amazon. Every news outlet is owned by someone. Trump has been calling The Washington Post, “The Amazon Washington Post” since at least July 2017. It is a blatant and alarming attempt to discredit the free press.
The White House goes on to blast The Washington Post as “Fake News.”
Trump has been retaliating against criticism from large media outlets since he launched his campaign, coining the term “#FakeNews.” The term has become so lost in our colloquial language, that we’ve forgotten its original intended use: to systematically attack news outlets that Americans rely on, turn his base against them, and become the sole harborer of truth in their eyes. #FakeNews has certainly become rampant, and the responsibility does not belong to The Washington Post.
Another win? Offloading American responsibilities for asylum seekers to a “Third Country.”
The Trump administration has done nothing to slow down the rampant spread of disease in migrant detention centers, where a child is 9x more likely to die of the flu than anywhere else in the United States. Instead, Trump focuses on the “win” of successfully offloading the American dream to a “third country” in the “Third Country Agreement.” Now, Mexico is agreeing to house asylum seekers, often in some of the most dangerous cities in the entire country, which arguably defers all sense of asylum for those fleeing the dangers of home.
Win: Trump visited El Paso.
Even in an alternate reality where Trump successfully comforted families and encouraged hospital staff in the aftermath of the country’s deadliest attack against Latinos, showing up is not a win. In fact, Trump showed up to the hospital where 22 people were pronounced dead and boasted about his crowd size last time he was in El Paso. Then, he smiled and gave a thumbs up while posing with a baby whose parents both died during the shooting. A win might look like condemning racism against Latinos and walking back on using words like “infiltrate” and “invasion” when referring to asylum seekers. A win might look like re-enacting the ban on assault-style weapons or following through with empty promises to work on gun reform legislation.
Win: Trump met with foreign leaders.
K. Again, that “win” is a simple showing up to the job. It doesn’t change anything. We didn’t learn of any diplomatic progress that was made while visiting North Korea. All Trump did was back down on his threats to start a tariff war with China. Another “win” was his attendance at the G7 meeting last month in France, during which he skipped a meeting on climate change, and reportedly faced criticism from other world leaders for re-inviting Russia to the G7.
Trump countered claims of racism against ‘The Squad’ by claiming they were racist.
“No, they brought racist attacks against our Nation,” Trump tweeted, referencing Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, also known as ‘The Squad’. “All I do is call them out for the horrible things they have said,” he continued. “The Democrats have become the Party of the Squad!”
As Trump was airing his frustrations with the progressive women of color, the crowd started chanting “Send Them Back.” Trump allowed the chanting to go on for seven seconds before he stopped them. The only woman who was not born in the U.S. was Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is a U.S. citizen. Critics felt this debunked the Trump base’s claim that they welcome legal immigration, but rather do not welcome brown people into this country and its politics.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.