Things That Matter

The Venezuelan Government Has Stopped Buying HIV And AIDS Medication

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

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Venezuelan Rising Star Carmen DeLeon Talks Break-Up Inspired “Pasado” and How Her Abuelos Inspired “Cafecito”

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Venezuelan Rising Star Carmen DeLeon Talks Break-Up Inspired “Pasado” and How Her Abuelos Inspired “Cafecito”

Carmen De Leon is a rising star hailing from Caracas, Venezuela. The 20-year-old singer moved to Tampa, Florida when she was 10 years old and then two years later moved with her family to Barcelona, Spain and lived there for six years. While in Spain, Carmen found success participating in La Voz, and started to build a following that would tune in every week to see her perform. Then she lived in Mexico for a year, Los Angeles for another year and is now settled in Miami working on her music career.

In an exclusive interview with Latido Music by mitú, Carmen De Leon talked to us about her latest single “Pasado” with Cali y El Dandee, from which she drew inspiration from her very own break-up and reminiscing about the past. We also touched on “Cafecito“, the bittersweet song in memory of her grandparents, her dream collab, and more.

Pasado” is inspired by Carmen De Leon’s real-life breakup.

Carmen recruited Colombian singers Cali y El Dandee for her latest single “Pasado,” blending 80s synthpop with reggaeton, a true popetón hit you can dance to and perhaps cry to.

On working with Cali y El Dandee, Carmen has nothing but praise for the Colombian duo, “they are like my brothers, they’re insanely talented, genuine and humble.”

It was Dandee who actually wanted her to let her feelings all out for the song.

“At that moment while I was writing the song, I was actually breaking up with my boyfriend, and I had Mauricio (Dandee) saying to me: ‘Just tell me more. Whatever you’re texting him, say it out loud so we have the right words for the song’ and that’s what we did,” Carmen says.

Just like the lyrics of the song long about the past, so did the music video which was purposely made in the film to capture the “old vibe” they were seeking to portray.

Carmen feels like this is the best song that she has made in her entire life. “It’s changed my life in a way because it’s opened me up to new audiences and I love seeing people react to it and relate to it.”

Earlier this year, Carmen released “Cafecito” which isn’t about your beloved morning beverage.

Most of us would read the title “Cafecito” and think it’s just an upbeat morning pick-me-up song, but it isn’t. “Cafecito” is a bittersweet single that Carmen says she wrote, “at 4 a.m. in the middle of a hurricane because I missed my grandparents so much, and I wanted to write about what it feels like to lose someone.”

While her abuelitos were the main inspiration behind the lyrics, the song does capture the feeling of loss that could apply to those of us losing a friendship, relationship, etc.

Before I even finish the question about her dream collaboration, Carmen excitedly yelled “Camilo!,” which also happens to be one of her favorite covers she’s posted on her YouTube channel.

Carmen’s dad chimed in the interview as well to plug in his favorite cover, which is “Graveyard” by Halsey.

We can only hope that Carmen DeLeon and Camilo collab happens and that this article serves as manifestation for it.

Good luck with everything, Carmen!

READ: Mon Laferte Talks Regional Mexican Album ‘Seis’ and Singing With Gloria Trevi

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Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

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Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

Separated from her mother for a decade, seventeen-year-old Cindy (who is only being identified by her first name) took a chance last month to see her. Despite her age, a raging pandemic, and the risks of crossing the Mexico–United States border she journeyed from Honduras to see her mother in New York. Her love for her mother was so deep, she was willing to risk everything.

In her mission, Cindy wound up in U.S. immigration facilities where she contracted Covid-19. After three days in a hospital bed in California, Cindy was finally able to contact her mother who had not learned of her daughter’s hospitalization.

Thanks to the help of a doctor who lent her their phone Cindy was able to make the call to her mother, Maria Ana.

“There are backlogs and delays in communication that are really unacceptable,” Maria Ana’s immigration lawyer Kate Goldfinch, who is also the president of the nonprofit Vecina, explained to NBC.

After learning about her daughter’s COVID-19 hospitalization, Maria Ana feared the worst. “Following weeks of anguish and uncertainty, Maria Ana spent most of her nights painting the bedroom she has fixed for Cindy, just ‘waiting for my girl,'” she explained to NBC.

Last Wednesday night, Maria Ana flew to San Diego to be with her daughter after she’d finally recovered from Covid.

At the emotional mother-daughter reunion, Maria Ana assured her daughter “no one else is going to hurt you.”

After Cindy crossed the border, she spent several days in a detention facility in Texas in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. According to NBC “On any given night, Cindy said, she would share two mattresses with about eight other girls. She could shower only every five days in one of the eight showers the facility had to serve 700 girls.”

“It was really bad,” Cindy told the outlet..

Cindy was among almost 13,350 unaccompanied children left in the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS. This last year has seen over 3,715 unaccompanied children at these facilities diagnosed with Covid-19. Worse, there are currently 528 unaccompanied children who have tested positive for Covid-19 and put in medical isolation.

Now, immigration advocates and families are pressing the U.S. government to pick up reunions of children and their families in the United States. Over 80 percent of unaccompanied minors currently in federal custody have family living in the states. According to Goldfinch, “40 percent have parents in the U.S.”

“So we would think that it would be fairly quick and simple to release a child to their own parent. But because of the chaos of the system, the reunification of these kids with their parents is really frustrating and backlogged,” Goldfinch explained, “most frustrating, of course, for the actual children and their parents.”

While Cindy was in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, no one managed to notify Ana Maria that her daughter was in the hospital according to Goldfinch

“I don’t know why my daughter has to be suffering this way, because it’s not fair. It’s something very sad for me,” Maria Ana explained to NBC

“I’ve already been through a lot,” Cindy went onto share. “But I hope it’s all worth it.”

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