My people in Caracas are a bunch of old men like me.
I know well that the set of my historical panas does not constitute a representative demographic sample of the Venezuelan population that has been waiting for a vaccine for months.
And in the technical sheet of my survey, I should also state that it was done via Zoom and WhatsApp among a universe that does not exceed thirty compatriots. Go ahead inclusive language: in my sample there are many older than old.
It is a fact that the Government of Venezuela does not provide reliable data to the disheartening figures that, regarding the pandemic and its management throughout Latin America, have long been provided by international organizations and NGOs.
We know of the 1.1 million new cases and that nine of the ten countries in the world with the most recent deaths in proportion to their population are Latin American. The region, counting the Caribbean nations, already has more than 1,200,000 deaths. We know many other things, almost all of them disheartening.
However, when reading the reports and reports, usually very complete, disseminated by the global press and social networks, Venezuela stands out especially for the absence of reliable numbers of contagion and lethality and for the lack of a true mass vaccination plan.
Venezuela’s unique, terrifying opacity is consistent with the widespread persecution and censorship characteristic of the Chavista-Madurista regime. Knowing nothing, the lack of apprehension of the authorities, the sectarianism with which the hierarchs and cadres of the ruling party have been prioritized, the generalized corruption, the brutal black market for the vaccine, and Maduro’s reluctance in the face of the suffering of our people make the Venezuelan outlook even more gloomy.
One measure of what Venezuelans are suffering is seen in the death figures among our doctors and health workers.
Deaths in the health sector – doctors and assistants – now exceed 651, according to the organization “Doctors United” that more than a year ago reported the first death in the union. Since then, “Médicos Unidos” has denounced the almost total lack of protection in which those who fight the pandemic on the front line serve the public. With which I return to my tiny sample.
One of my historical panas died in recent days without ever receiving the text message with which the Bolivarian platform “Patria” was supposed to indicate where to appear to receive the first dose of Sputnik. He was 65 years old, he was a pensioner and, whatever the data is worth, a Chavista with a fingernail on his tail.
Several of his relatives, exiled in Panama City, promoted a novena via Instagram from the Nuestra Señora de Lourdes parish in that town. This gave ideas to his agnostic friends who, to honor the friend’s memory, got together for a snack via Zoom. It was natural to ask who among them have managed to get vaccinated. Less than 16 percent of those gathered.
Most went to a center for their first dose, attending to unconfirmed information, provided by people who are forced to be aware of the game in a country with all kinds of rationing. I’m talking about internet rumors of the type “at the Hotel Alba it seems that they are vaccinating old people but you have to arrive at 4 am”.
One of my friends, attentive to receiving the second dose, and after queuing for nine hours in the open in the Miranda Park, east of Caracas, was fired with the news that the vaccines had run out. “Come back tomorrow, but yes, come early”, they told them between lies about the Russian, the Chinese, the Cuban. On the cold chain and the critical number of vials.
The truth was that a contingent of party members, all government officials, had just arrived and had been favored by over a hundred elderly people: the chaos and patronage rampage that rule Venezuela. My friend angrily rebuked a National Guard officer who endured the downpour on his feet.
__What did they give me the first time? – the guard asked, optional.
__ Don’t worry, Grandma. It is a tremendous vaccine! With that it lasts another eighty days.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.