‘There is no soap’ and the challenges of washing your hands in socialist Venezuela

On Tuesday, I had a chat with Miguel Henrique Otero, President & Editor of El Nacional in Venezuela. His grandfather founded the newspaper in the 1940’s and was recently forced to go online because the Maduro regime stopped supplying it with paper.  

Miguel is convinced that it had to do with their coverage of allegations that President Maduro and pals were involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Miguel is now living in Spain along with other newspaper principals. 

During our chat, I asked Miguel about the coronavirus in Venezuela.  This is what he said: 

Well, the first thing I have to say is that coronavirus has been in China, Korea and these countries, at the moment in Europe and the United States and then at the moment in the developing countries that is starting to happen.  I mean, if we analyze what is happening, what is going to happen in Mexico to Chile it’s a terrible situation with coronavirus because we don’t have —any of our countries— don’t have the system to combat the coronavirus. Half of the people live in shanty towns. I mean, this in under developed countries.

So what we see is going to happen in these countries is that if you go to Venezuela things are worse because people don’t have water, there is no medicine. I mean people have, in terms of nutrition, people don’t have anything to eat. I mean, the situation in Venezuela is twice as bad as it is in Colombia.  

When we see the numbers, I mean, I would never believe that coronavirus doesn’t exist in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua and it exists in all the other countries. They just don’t let the numbers to go out.  

Then he added this:  

In Venezuela it’s starting, that’s a point but what we preview that is going to happen in Venezuela is something terrible.

We don’t have hospitals, the hospitals don’t have water or electricity, like the middle ages.And you have the repression.

Right now, Maduro says that the operation “Tum-Tum!” The Operation “Tum-Tum!” is that they go knock on the doors to take all the opposition people into jail! So they are taking to jail a lot of people.

And they are in the shanty towns, Venezuela right now, 85% of the people live with less than 5 dollars per month! That’s terrible!

And they are trying to block all these shanty towns, well what is going to happen there is that people are going to die of hunger!

Maybe we die of coronavirus…  

Then I asked about the lack of water, or a necessary ingredient to wash your hands and he said:

There is no soap! 

Yes, it’s hard to fight the virus without running water and soap, a common problem for many living in what was once one of the most prosperous and richest countries in Latin America. 

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.