“We either buy food or buy school supplies.” Parents in Venezuela are facing impossible choices.
School desertion is palpable in Venezuelan classrooms. Empty desks, locked classrooms, and only a few teachers have stayed in the country since most cannot afford the $1 a month salary. The economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is punishing a whole generation, leaving them uneducated, and hungry. In the interior of the country, various schools have shut down due to lack of student attendance, teachers, transportation, food, and water.
“We are going to have a country of illiterates,” warn teachers. The suspension of classes in various regions of the country is one of the most obvious symptoms of the economic crisis under the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. “It’s a pathetic picture,” the teachers lament.
Almost 3 million children in Venezuela between the ages of 3 and 17 have quit school or barely attend. The hyperinflation under Nicolas Maduro has erased the salaries of teachers and parents.
State of Public Services
Light, water, and transportation are in terrible conditions and operate under the responsibility of an inexperienced military in Venezuela under an emergency rationing system.
- Constant blackouts, shortage of gasoline and domestic gas, lack of drinking water and a dearth of public transportation vehicles have added to the economic and humanitarian crisis that Venezuelans suffer today.
- In various areas of the country there is no electricity from 10 o’clock in the morning and until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. At night, the electricity comes back on.
- There is no constant water supply from the faucets in Venezuelan homes. Caraqueños (the people of Caracas, Venezuela) usually go to the foothills of the mountain to extract water from the springs. They also get it from swimming pools, air conditioning drips, and street potholes after the rain.
- The water pressure is so low that it cannot flow up the pipes for homes placed in elevated regions.
- 79% of hospitals in the country are affected by the scarcity of water.
Maracaibo resorts to donkeys with carts to face the crisis of garbage collection. In addition to the serious failures of electricity and water services in the capital of the Zulia state, the overflow of garbage now adds to the crisis. The collapse of the cleaning services has Venezuela surrounded by waste. The men below, volunteer to pick up trash. Since there is no gas for vehicles, they use donkeys.
Not Enough Transportation, and Not Enough Gas to Operate Vehicles
Problems accessing gasoline have left the population with no viable way to travel to their workplace or their home.
“I have to stand in line and sleep one night in the bus terminal to be able to buy the tickets, ” reported a traveler.
The lack of public transportation has led hundreds to travel in dangerous moving trucks built for the transfer of livestock, agricultural products, and construction. This unsafe travel system has already claimed the lives of Venezuelans.
Venezuela’s economy is 95% dependent on the sale of crude oil and it is the only industry capable of generating foreign exchange earnings, which have been reduced due to the drop in production.
Long rows of cars are observed in the service stations and many of them are left without being able to supply despite a wait of up to 6 hours.
In Venezuela, 85% of the gas consumed by the country is through “cylinders,” whose distribution is a monopoly of the government. The other 15% is distributed via direct gas through pipelines, another exclusive business of the State.
Lack of Water
Since 2013, the water supply worsened due to the deterioration of the infrastructure of the 18 largest drinking water reservoirs and the thousands of kilometers of pipes were not replaced.
The lack of water also dramatically impacts hospitals where several treatments such as chemotherapy and dialysis have been suspended.
Venezuelans are fleeing to Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Wherever They Can.
4200; the number of Venezuelans who are entering Ecuador daily.
Ecuador has declared a state of emergency.
Thousands of Venezuelans arrive fleeing the economic crisis in Venezuela and many cross Ecuador on foot as a bridge to Peru or to other nations seeking prosperity and a better future.
In the Colombia-Ecuadorian border, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have arrived with the intent to cross. At this juncture, it is estimated that there are more than 10,000 Venezuelans who hope to meet the requirements to have their passport stamped so they can continue their journey. The Equatorian authorities estimate that 3200 people are crossing by day at this particular point; the Colombia-Ecuadorian border.
The government of Ecuador has also declared a state of emergency in Ecuador’s southern border with Peru, where thousands of Venezuelans are massively headed.
Many fear that the new Colombian president, Ivan Duque will close the borders to Venezuelans.
Florida Governor, Rick Scott, Visits with Venezuelans in Colombia
The visit had several objectives. One of them was for the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, to meet with members of the Venezuelan community who have been displaced to Bogota by the crisis in their country. The second was to listen to Venezuelans and their petitions:
Members of the Venezuelan community who have been forced to live in Colombia asked Scott for help and told him they want to be heard by Washington. The Venezuelans gifted Scott a Venezuelan flag.
Carlos Eduardo Vilma, leader of the Venezuelan diaspora in Colombia told Univision his proposal for US aid:
“We proposed to governor Scott the possibility that he would talk with the Treasury Department, seize the resources extended to the members of the Venezuelan dictatorship, and use them to solve the humanitarian crisis generated by the diaspora of Venezuelans in all the countries of Latin America.”
Manuel Salcedo, Coordinator of the Freedom Group for Venezuela in Colombia also offered his proposals: “We need help. The best type of help would come in the form of a military intervention to save the lives of Venezuelans trapped in the country. We are living a Second Holocaust here.”
After their meeting, Governor Rick Scott promised them that he would take their concerns to the highest levels in Washington and to the administration of the president, Donald Trump.
The Venezuelans who attended the meeting thanked Rick Scott for the visit and at its conclusion talked about their worries regarding how little the US seems to know about the suffering of Venezuelans.
William Meza, president of the Colombo-Venezuelan foundation intends to raise awareness. Help is imperative:
“In the United States little is known about the real situation that is happening in Venezuela. I believe that we need to activate ourselves so that in the United States and in the world, they truly know the humanitarian crisis that the country is experiencing. We are in serious need of help.”