Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Venezuela Shortages: Half Glass Full!

We're starting to see stories by reporters sympathetic to the Venezuelan government that acknowledge the huge problems facing the country, but downplay them. Shortages in hospitals? It sparks innovation!

Another way they have sought to overcome shortages is by developing a barter system with other hospitals in Caracas, keeping tabs on who has what and swapping where they can. Last month, Zayra Medina was briefly arrested by police detectives after she was stopped transporting boxes of medicines in her car. There have certainly been cases of corrupt doctors and hospital administrators diverting drugs onto the parallel market where they can sell them at a big profit, or siphoning them off to the private clinics where most of them also work. Medina insists that this time it was a misunderstanding. She was taking the drugs to the University Hospital where a colleague was in urgent need of them. Both the police and her staff seemed to believe her. Several of them tell me she is an inspired, and inspiring, leader.

This is true in Cuba, where innovation in the face of extreme scarcity is legendary. But it's a model of desperation rather than development. If hospitals are engaged in bartering, then you're in serious crisis.

And remember, this is a Telesur article, which is putting the most positive spin possible on the situation.


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