Spot what's missing in an NPR opinion piece about Venezuela's morgues

If you have a strong stomach, you may find interesting an opinion piece in NPR entitled "His Dad Died in a Venezuelan Hospital. What He Saw in the Morgue Still Haunts Him."  The author, Gustavo Ocando Alex, is identified as a "freelance writer in Venezuela."  His article is about what he saw after his father died and he accompanied his father's body to the morgue.

I will not quote here what Alex saw in that morgue.  For those who enjoy graveyard horror movies, think back to the creepiest special effects, and then imagine that those effects are real and come complete with the full panoply of odors surrounding the recently dead in a hot country.  One can only feel the deepest sympathy for Alex and others like him trapped in that socialist hellhole.

And did I just say "socialist"?  Why, yes, I did.  As every honest economic chart shows, after Venezuela went full socialist under Hugo Chávez, with his successor Nicolás Maduro doubling down on that political ideology, the country's economy cratered:

What's striking is to see the short-term spurt in the economy when Chávez announced socialism in 2004 and poured government money into the economy.  Then you can see how the managed economy, one dependent on government, not on individual initiative, creativity, and energy, slumped lower and lower.  It's a graph of human tragedy.

And that's how you end up with medieval conditions in Venezuela's hospitals, as this video from June 2019 shows:

To explain what is going on, Alex mentions "the current economic crisis," but otherwise he focuses on the micro, not the macro.  He vividly describes the morgue's general problems:

The two freezer units used for preservation haven't worked for months, and the air conditioning is also broken, the source continued. So the temperature in the morgue rooms is close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the source said.

This situation has been going on for some time. In October 2018, the BBC's Spanish news site reported on the very same Venezuelan morgue I had visited: "Many lifeless bodies lay over dirty metallic tables. They should be there for only a few hours and always in cold, but most of them spend days there, even months." Photos documented the scene — which was identical to what I saw a full year later.

In a phone interview, Dora Colmenares, secretary of the Organization of the College of Physicians in Zulia state, told me about the animals that infest the morgue: snakes, cockroaches, worms, mosquitoes, cats and dogs.

He discusses general health care issues, not to mention the U.N.'s concern about human rights:

The tragedy in the morgue is only one manifestation of the health care issues in Venezuela, says Colmenares. The Universitario hospital where my father was treated, she says, can't perform X-rays because the equipment is broken and it doesn't have the proper supplies to do laboratory tests.

The Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said last July that the health situation in Venezuela was "dire, with hospitals lacking staff, supplies, medicines and electricity to keep vital machinery running."

And that's where Alex stops.  Not a peep about how the economy collapsed.

Perhaps Alex is as honest about things as a writer in Venezuela can be.  Maybe speaking about a generic "economic crisis" and the facts on the ground is sufficiently neutral that President Maduro will not turn a steely-eyed gaze on him.  I don't blame Alex for his reticence.

I do, however, blame NPR for its unwillingness to include a short statement before or after the article stating that Venezuela has a socialist economy.  For the uninitiated who reads this article, it's easy to conclude that it's just a "bad economy."  The Trump-haters might conclude that Trump's tariffs and border control contributed to it.  The emotional ones will want to invite Venezuelans in.

The bottom line is that unless the reader is either already informed or curious, he will never know why the Venezuelan morgue is the stuff of your worst nightmares.  NPR doesn't report news; it sells emotionalism. That absence of honest information is how you end up being Venezuela.

If you have a strong stomach, you may find interesting an opinion piece in NPR entitled "His Dad Died in a Venezuelan Hospital. What He Saw in the Morgue Still Haunts Him."  The author, Gustavo Ocando Alex, is identified as a "freelance writer in Venezuela."  His article is about what he saw after his father died and he accompanied his father's body to the morgue.

I will not quote here what Alex saw in that morgue.  For those who enjoy graveyard horror movies, think back to the creepiest special effects, and then imagine that those effects are real and come complete with the full panoply of odors surrounding the recently dead in a hot country.  One can only feel the deepest sympathy for Alex and others like him trapped in that socialist hellhole.

And did I just say "socialist"?  Why, yes, I did.  As every honest economic chart shows, after Venezuela went full socialist under Hugo Chávez, with his successor Nicolás Maduro doubling down on that political ideology, the country's economy cratered:

What's striking is to see the short-term spurt in the economy when Chávez announced socialism in 2004 and poured government money into the economy.  Then you can see how the managed economy, one dependent on government, not on individual initiative, creativity, and energy, slumped lower and lower.  It's a graph of human tragedy.

And that's how you end up with medieval conditions in Venezuela's hospitals, as this video from June 2019 shows:

To explain what is going on, Alex mentions "the current economic crisis," but otherwise he focuses on the micro, not the macro.  He vividly describes the morgue's general problems:

The two freezer units used for preservation haven't worked for months, and the air conditioning is also broken, the source continued. So the temperature in the morgue rooms is close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the source said.

This situation has been going on for some time. In October 2018, the BBC's Spanish news site reported on the very same Venezuelan morgue I had visited: "Many lifeless bodies lay over dirty metallic tables. They should be there for only a few hours and always in cold, but most of them spend days there, even months." Photos documented the scene — which was identical to what I saw a full year later.

In a phone interview, Dora Colmenares, secretary of the Organization of the College of Physicians in Zulia state, told me about the animals that infest the morgue: snakes, cockroaches, worms, mosquitoes, cats and dogs.

He discusses general health care issues, not to mention the U.N.'s concern about human rights:

The tragedy in the morgue is only one manifestation of the health care issues in Venezuela, says Colmenares. The Universitario hospital where my father was treated, she says, can't perform X-rays because the equipment is broken and it doesn't have the proper supplies to do laboratory tests.

The Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said last July that the health situation in Venezuela was "dire, with hospitals lacking staff, supplies, medicines and electricity to keep vital machinery running."

And that's where Alex stops.  Not a peep about how the economy collapsed.

Perhaps Alex is as honest about things as a writer in Venezuela can be.  Maybe speaking about a generic "economic crisis" and the facts on the ground is sufficiently neutral that President Maduro will not turn a steely-eyed gaze on him.  I don't blame Alex for his reticence.

I do, however, blame NPR for its unwillingness to include a short statement before or after the article stating that Venezuela has a socialist economy.  For the uninitiated who reads this article, it's easy to conclude that it's just a "bad economy."  The Trump-haters might conclude that Trump's tariffs and border control contributed to it.  The emotional ones will want to invite Venezuelans in.

The bottom line is that unless the reader is either already informed or curious, he will never know why the Venezuelan morgue is the stuff of your worst nightmares.  NPR doesn't report news; it sells emotionalism. That absence of honest information is how you end up being Venezuela.