The price of oil has been steadily climbing this year, but Venezuela's financial situation remains as dire as ever.
And in the latest sign of just how desperate the country's people are for basic necessities like food and medicine, Breitbart reports that police in Venezuela attacked patients and doctors outside Venezuela's Health Ministry in Caracas on Wednesday as they were demonstrating over the collapse of the country's socialized health-care system.
Demonstrators also demanded to meet with Health Minister Luis Lopez, but he refused to see them (though the vice minister did meet with a handful of demonstrators).
Local media reports described police pushing and shoving the demonstrators, many of whom were suffering from a debilitating illness.
Similar demonstrators took place around the country, as patients demanded more be done to supply hospitals with the supplies they need to treat sick patients.
After they tried to gain access to the building, local police responded by engaging in a "shoving match" with the protesters, many of whom are patients suffering from diseases such as Parkinson’s and HIV and are now failing to receive their required medication provided by the government.
The Vice Minister of Health Jessyca Aleman met with some protesters, including Francisco Valencia, the head of the medical NGO Codevida, who confirmed that the government simply lacked the necessary capacity to respond.
"The government just does not have the response capacity in the face of the magnitude of what is happening with the medicines’ shortages," Francisco told NTN24 following the meeting.
"We will have to go to Miraflores to demand solutions from President Nicolás Maduro," he continued. "Enough with all of the deaths! The government has the solution in its hands by activating international cooperation mechanisms."
Similar healthcare demonstrations also took place around the country. The NGO Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict recorded protests over the medical crisis in all 23 states.
The situation inside the country is growing so dire that stories of patients being asked to bring their own gauze, bandages and other supplies abound.
Shocking reports from inside the country include cases of patients being asked to bring their own bandages, gauze, and medicine, while the chronic lack of medicine has led to a rise in amputations of infected limbs, more mastectomies due to a lack of cancer treatment, and a spike in HIV diagnoses and teen pregnancies due to shortages of contraceptives.
Last December, Venezuelan outlet El Nacional published an in-depth report titled "Venezuela’s Health Holocaust" to bring attention to the severity of the country’s health crisis that included cases of mothers being forced to forego their medicine in order to provide their children with breast milk.
"The reason we refer to the health crisis as a 'holocaust' is that the government has kept hospitals in a precarious situation, not placing as the necessary amount of medical supplies needed for emergency care," said Douglas León Natera, president of the Venezuelan medical association on the report’s publishing. "It sounds a bit harsh but this is the reality."
The health-care system is a centerpiece of former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's socialist vision. During his reign, Chavez enshrined government-provided health care in his version of the country's constitution. Now, the country's authorities cannot provide even the bare essentials needed to keep it running.
And the people for whom the system was set up to help - aka Venezuela's poorest and most vulnerable residents (a group that now includes most of the population) - are the ones who are seeing the most negative impact.