Original story: 03/05/13
On March 5, 2013, Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela died of cancer. Briefly, Chavez came to power in 1998 when he began his first (six-year) term as president. He remained so through a 2009 referendum that removed term limits for all elected officials including presidents. Source: BBC: Profile: Hugo Chavez
Nicolas Maduro became the new the president of Venezuela on 4/14/13. He vows to continue the spirit of Chavez alive. As Venezuela descends into economic chaos, many wonder if he can prevent the country from sinking further into despair. Source: BBC-Radio 4: Profile: Nicolas Maduro
Update: 8/20/16: Toyota restarts production
After six months, Toyota has restarted its factory. Production ceased because of material and shortages. The models that have restarted are the Corolla, Hylux and Fortuner. Source: Reuters: Toyota restarts production in Venezuela after six months
Update: 9/17/16: Child starvation
Venezuela’s children are suffering from severe malnutrition. The cases in Caracas have doubled and the consequences are irreversible for a child’s first 1000 days of life. Many of the children are being treated at J.M. de los Rios Hospital which is Venezuela’s main pediatric hospital. Due to the rampant inflation and socialist economic policies, parents cannot afford milk formula. A survey conducted by a Venezuelan University showed the 76% of Venezuelans live in poverty and 49% in critical poverty. Source: Daily Mail: Horrifying photos show how children are dying of hunger as half the population lives in ‘critical’ poverty in socialist Venezuela
Update: 9/20/16: Venezuela is buying U.S. oil
Venezuela’s oil industry funded everything from housing to education is spiraling into disarray. Oil workers barely make enough to eat while gangs steal assets from the oil sites. For many years, Chavez dumped oil profits into the country’s social programs; Maduro is now the president and conditions have become worse. Add to the the fall in global oil prices and Venezuela is beyond the brink. Oil was Venezuela’s global identity and the US was a large market for its oil sales. Today, the US ships oil to Venezuela which helps Venezuela prepare its own oil for export. Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, is struggling to pay for the foreign oil, crumbling under crippling debts, and running out of resources to pay its debtors and its own employees. Source: NY Times: How bad off is oil-rich Venezuela? It’s buying US oil
Update: 10/19/16: Corpses exploding
It was one of the more macabre stories to emerge out of socialist Venezuela.
In a hospital morgue, a bloated corpse exploded.
The morgue’s barely functioning cooling system was to blame – hardly a surprise in the oil-rich yet impoverished nation whose health-care system has collapsed under the socialist government. Decomposing for two days in the tropical heat, the corpse finally exploded in a spray of toxic fluids and gasses. The ghastly incident earlier this month necessitated the partial evacuation of the hospital, University Hospital Antonio Patricio de Alcalá, located in Cumaná — a city of 825,000 in eastern Venezuela. Patients in nearby rooms and corridors were sickened to their stomachs by the stench.
“It’s not the first time that a body exploded,” a hospital employee told a Venezuelan media outlet. “It has already occurred two times since the middle of September.”
The hospital was not always a house of horrors. It was once regarded as one of Venezuela’s best public hospitals — a standard-bearer for health care, according to the Venezuela news site La Patilla. Recently, La Patilla sent a reporter with a hidden camera through the facility: it revealed patients unattended in hallways and the emergency room, shortages of essential equipment, and a lack of air conditioning in wards. Source: Front Page Mag: Corpses ‘exploding’ in decrepit Venezuelan hospitals