Venezuelans protest before PAHO in Caracas to denounce health crisis

    14 de junio de 2018

    Caracas, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- Dozens of Venezuelans suffering from HIV and Parkinson's gathered Thursday in front of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) headquarters in Caracas to denounce the country's health crisis as PAHO director Carissa Etienne visits Venezuela.

    The protesters want "them to listen to the reality of the Venezuelan people and the affected people ... they are people who are trying to survive in Venezuela, ... but neither the Health Ministry nor any other public authority is paying attention" said Eduardo Franco, the representative of the Venezuelan Network of (HIV-)Positive People.

    In the presence of reporters, the protesters - most of whom are HIV carriers - demonstrated in various ways to the PAHO the "humanitarian emergency" the country is experiencing.

    The patients, who were accompanied by doctors and relatives, placed on the walls of the PAHO building some of the names of people who, they said, had died from lack of anti-retroviral medications, and they demanded - via signs and slogans - "no more deaths."

    "That's enough deaths in Venezuela. That's enough of the government acting crazy and being complicit ... in all this genocide that's happening (here) with so many people dying each day," continued Franco, who also said that the Ombudsman's Office had received "many complaints" about these cases and the institution "has said absolutely nothing."

    "The medications are effective in the stomachs of the patients, not in planning," he said, calling on Health Minister Luis Lopez to "stop being a coward" and "show his face."

    Franco said that among the demonstrators were people from the states of Lara, Portuguesa, Yaracuy, Amazonas, Bolivar and Caracas, Carabobo and Aragua.

    Meanwhile, seamstress Sarai Sebrian, who is HIV-infected, told EFE that it's been 12 months since she was able to take the medications she needs because, even if she manages to find some, she cannot buy them because they're too expensive.

    The PAHO director is in Venezuela and on Thursday is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.

    On Wednesday, the Venezuelan government signed an agreement with the PAHO to guarantee the availability of medications and medical supplies.

    After the meeting, Etienne told state-run television channel VTV that the PAHO is committed to improving the situation for the Venezuelan people.