It’s incredibly sad to watch Venezuela crumble. It was once one of the most prosperous and advanced nations in our hemisphere – rich with abundant natural resources and creative people. Now, the ravages of socialism have ground it down into another third world craphole ruled by a despot who clings to power while blaming America for his country’s woes. It is a timely lesson for Americans who look to socialists like Bernie Sanders to solve our nation’s ills.
The economic crisis in this country has exploded into a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans. It is just part of a larger unraveling here that has become so severe it has prompted President Nicolás Maduro to impose a state of emergency and has raised fears of a government collapse.
Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged. Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.
At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.
“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.
The figures are devastating. The rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry, to just over 2 percent in 2015 from 0.02 percent in 2012, according to a government report provided by lawmakers.
The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period, according to the report.
I also note that Venezuela has the kind of socialized healthcare system that America is moving toward with the enthusiastic cheers of the Left. This is where it leads.