I found the above-linked piece on Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, written by Professor Riggirozzi, to be particularly interesting.
I will start by saying that social and health issues have always attracted my attention. This is in part because, in my view, the effective access to essential and social services – and among these education, and health care – represent a significant element in evaluating the actual level of equity, rule of law and democracy in a state.
Given that, in the context of the Venezuelan crisis, I totally agree with Prof. Riggirozzi in perceiving women’s situation as particularly dramatic.
Now, I would like to lay emphasis on just a few data points highlighted in the quoted work.
First and foremost, the rise of sexually transmitted diseases is quite alarming, particularly HIV, due to the 90% fall of the country’s stock of contraceptives as reported by the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation.
This is not to mention the new plague of illegal abortions and even sterilisations.
Moreover, according to Amnesty International, between 2015 and 2016, maternal mortality in Venezuela increased by 65%.
This also means a catastrophic regression in the field of human rights is occurring and women are the main victims.
One of the most painful things to think about is that, in the region, Venezuela had been an advanced country in terms of social welfare and health care … For instance, the well-known programme “Barrio Adentro” comes to mind.
Furthermore, in the context of the exceptional scale characterizing the sudden Venezuelan economic crisis and general downturn, the precipitous fall of imported goods has triggered a dramatic situation for food insecurity which is affecting the vast majority of the Venezuelan population.
However, the worst thing is that it is extremely hard to imagine comprehensive solutions addressing, simultaneously, all the levels of the above-described multidimensional crisis.
As far as I am concerned, the International community should start by cooperating, with the purpose of tackling the current humanitarian disaster even before attempting to find a path to settle all the relevant economic and political issues at stake.
I can’t help but think that the European Union, as a trustworthy third party, would virtually be able to positively influence the scenario.
Nevertheless, as underlined by so many scholars and analysts, the overall constructive but erratic and fluctuating relationship between the EU and the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region remains relatively weak in terms of true strategic cooperation and without doubt below its potential.
We cannot overlook mentioning that e.g. the FTA with MERCOSUR, initiated in 1995, remains under negotiation.
Summing up, to find an effective exit strategy from this horrible scenario, we must join our efforts to build up strong partnerships. These must be inclusive of state and non-state actors, deeply committed to helping Venezuelan people, and with a genuinely common agenda.
In this context, I sincerely believe that the EU can play a positive role at the diplomatic level.
However, broadening our vision, I do hope that the International Community as a whole will not opt for only a punitive posture at the economic, political and diplomatic levels.
Instead, the International Community should chose a path of pragmatic dialogue. The priority should be securing humanitarian corridors for vulnerable groups – such as pregnant women, children and elderly people – and ensuring a constant arrival of food and basic resources for the benefit of the civil society stuck in this dramatic situation.
I think it is important to reaffirm, at all the levels and in every circumstance, that essential goods such as food and medicine should never be used as political tools.
Hence, I will conclude by quoting Eduardo Galeano: «Son secretas las matanzas de la miseria en América Latina; cada año estallan, silenciosamente, sin estrépito alguno, tres bombas de Hiroshima sobre estos pueblos que tienen la costumbre de sufrir con los dientes apretados.» (Las venas abiertas de América Latina)