“Three million people have already emigrated from the unimaginable crisis in Venezuela. The country lacks food, drinking water and basic health care. There is also no trace of monetary reform that has been in preparation for months. In just three months, the Bolivar has lost more than 75% of its value,” writes Marcin Lipka, Conotoxia Senior Analyst.
The Venezuelan nightmare continues to get worse. According to the latest estimates of the UN body dealing with migration issues (UNHCR), 2.4 million Venezuelans have arrived in Latin America. In Colombia, 1 million citizens of a country in crisis have found shelter from poverty, disease, hunger and crime. In total, there are 3 million citizens (about 10 per cent of the population) of this South American country residing outside their homeland.
At the moment, emigration is not the most serious problem in Venezuela. The fate of those who have stayed in the Bolivarian Republic is tragic. The harsh situation of the local population is clearly presented in reports published by non-governmental organisations and doctors.
There was a lack of food, now there is no water or electricity
According to the Right to Water study prepared by community organisations, 82% of the population (26 million people) do not have regular access to water. 20 years ago the proportions were the other way around and 87% of the population received drinkable water.
It is not only households and companies that are having problems with access to water. 75% of public health services also do not receive water regularly and 25% do not have water at all. Nevertheless, the water quality is still unacceptable. The lack of human and financial resources means that public utilities fail to meet their obligations and water is polluted or not tested.
There is also a lack of funds to maintain the potential of Venezuela's largest hydroelectric power plant (Guri). According to the report, it should satisfy 65 per cent of the country's electricity demand. However, currently, 9 out of 20 turbines are inoperative, which according to Right to Water, means that a power shortage that exceeds 12 hours "affects a significant part of the country's territory.”
The public health service is dead
Pollution or water shortages in connection with interruptions in electricity supply create a huge problem for hospitals. When we add to this cuts in the financing of medicine, a disaster is practically guaranteed.
According to the September report "Right to Health", since 2011 there has been an 82% reduction in the possibility of providing medical care in the public health system. Since 2016, 300,000 people who have had an organ transplant, haemophilia, cancer or have needed other special medical treatments have been deprived.
Between 2017 and 2018, out of the 15,000 people who regularly have dialysis, as many as 2,500 died due to breakdowns or shortages of equipment, contamination or the need to close down medical facilities.
Only four out of 25 radiotherapy units are currently operative. Due to Venezuela's total dependence on imported medicine (95 per cent of medicines were imported from abroad), its consumption fell by 93 per cent. As many as 92 per cent of medical institutions and hospital wards report deficiencies in basic and relatively cheap drugs (e.g. aspirin).
Economy hits rock bottom
Considering the total collapse of the country and the serious humanitarian crisis, it is not surprising that the economic reform, which has been in preparation for months, has been ruined. The link between the Bolivar and a cryptocurrency dependent on the price of oil has ended in a complete failure.
Three months ago, 60 new bolivars (6 million old ones) had to be paid for the dollar. For only a few days the black market rate was close to the official one. Now the American currency costs 250 bolivars, i.e. over four times more.
The situation of the fuel sector in the country is also worsening. Although in Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, petrol is still practically free, it is starting to run out of resources. Bloomberg agency data show that refineries are working below 20% of their production capacity, which is mainly due to a lack of investment and personnel. Media reports also reveal long queues at petrol pumps.
It is possible that a shortage of fuel, even more than the problems connected with healthcare, electricity or water, will contribute to the fall of the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. This is probably why the authorities tried to keep the country's fuel supply at a relatively high level, cutting spendings on all other public goods and services.