Venezuela (PanAm) – Without Food, Children Are Dying from Malnutrition at Increasing Rate
When 18-month-old Royer Machado died from malnutrition in Zulia, Venezuela, the authorities did not arrest his mother.
The child had gone more than 72 hours without eating, but his mother lived in extreme poverty and couldn’t get the resources she needed; that was just the nature of Venezuela today.
The boy’s mother told officers she ran out of money, and then out of food. The baby continued to cry, so she wrapped him in a rag, gave him water and rocked him to sleep. After several days, the crying stopped. He was no longer breathing.
Officers interrogated the boy’s mother, looking for any sign of violence or mistreatment, but there was none.
“She really had no food,” one officer said.
This isn’t the only case of malnutrition taking the life of a small child over the last two months.
Ligia González, 8 months, and Elver González, 2, died from critical malnutrition in Guajira, on the west side of the country.
Hospitals in Venezuela are struggling to handle the amount of malnutrition cases coming through their doors.
At least every four days, a malnourished child arrives unconscious to the Central Hospital in San Felipe. Others tell doctors they no longer eat three times a day.
A survey conducted earlier this year by Venebarómetro showed that almost 90 percent of Venezuelans buy less food than before, and 29 percent of them are fed less than three times a day.
The study also revealed 70 percent of Venezuelans assess their economic situation as “bad,” while 89.7 percent do not have enough money to dress themselves. Seventy-nine said their income is insufficient for buying food and medicine.
Seven protests for food took place just this last July, adding to the 209 for the year. That’s an increase of 70 percent compared to July 2015, according to a study of the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.
This report prepared by Sabrina Martín for PanAm Post.