Desperate Venezuelans last night pleaded with the failed socialist regime to let humanitarian aid into the country as they struggle to survive.
Seriously ill patients and parents of hungry children begged stubborn president Nicolas Maduro to allow the truck-loads of medicine and food stockpiled in Colombia to cross the border and relieve their suffering.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to open a humanitarian corridor into the country.
But the bridge that would carry the aid to those who need it most is blocked by the army who remain loyal to the socialist regime.
Parents of hungry children begged stubborn president Nicolas Maduro to allow the truck-loads of medicine and food stockpiled in Colombia to cross the border
Kidney-dialysis patients, poor families and a hospital doctor last night made an emotional appeal to Venezuela’s leaders to let the international community help
However kidney-dialysis patients, poor families and a hospital doctor last night made an emotional appeal to Venezuela’s leaders to let the international community help solve the country’s chronic economic, medical and social crisis.
‘The people are sick, the children are hungry, [President] Maduro, I beg you, let the aid in!’ cried Sonia Gonzalez.
‘Nine-five per cent of the population need help. Please let the humanitarian aid into the country. Let us live!’
Ramon Sanchez, another dialysis patient, added: ‘We have had 20 years of suffering. What has happened to this country is a catastrophe.
Seriously ill patients and parents of hungry children begged stubborn president Nicolas Maduro to allow the truck-loads of medicine and food stockpiled in Colombia to cross the border and relieve their suffering
‘We are shouting and screaming for help. For God’s sake let the aid in.’
The patients must undergo 12-hours of dialysis every three days. But the clinic is starved of resources and is at risk of closing.
Patient Aurelio Galan said: ‘If we don’t get dialysis we die.’
His wife Luz Marina Martinez added: ‘More than Maduro, I appeal to the military leaders to let the humanitarian aid in because they have the power to allow the food and medicine that we need through.
‘I urge the military leaders to look into their hearts. We all have families, we all have children, we all have relatives who have fled abroad.
‘We need the aid for the people who are dying. The world must know the truth of what is happening in Venezuela’s healthcare system.’
Opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to open a humanitarian corridor into the country
Opposition National Assembly President Juan Guaido attends a church service in Caracas on Sunday
A desperate appeal for help dying 15-year-old boy Miguel Alvarado, from Guanare, by buying basic medicines to treat his blocked intestines, posted on social media, in Venezuela, went viral this week.
Families with hungry children joined the call to allow the aid into Venezuela.
Grandfather Luis David Contreras said: ‘We are all waiting for the humanitarian aid to come through.
‘We are ready to make a human-chain to pass the food and medicine to the people who need it.’
Mr Contreras, 53, a businessman from San Cristobal, has to go to Colombia to buy the food this family needs.
An aerial view dated shows the blockade of the Tienditas bridge – the bridge that would carry the aid to those who need it most is blocked by the army
A man sells painkillers in Cucuta, Colombia,near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge
A nurse shows the medical items the patients must to buy to receive treatment in an aid dialysis clinic
Father-of-one Jesus Estrada, 29, a professional football referee from Falcon, said: ‘We are all desperate for the humanitarian aid to come.
‘My aunt died from stomach cancer two months ago because she could not get the medicines she needed.
‘Everything we need for my daughter – nappies, milk formula and medicines – we have to go Colombia to buy. You just can’t buy it in Venezuela.’
His wife Anriamis Delce, 24, added: ‘We have bought medicine for my relative who has high blood-pressure.’
Street-vendors Antoni de Jesus, 28, and wife Maribel Pinango, 23, and their two children Abismael, 5, and Arismael, 2, cross the border to Colombia every day to eat at the United Nations refugee camp.
Mr de Jesus, from border town San Antonio del Tachira, said: ‘We are so poor we can hardly manage to feed the children. My son Abismael has spina bifida and needs hospital treatment.
‘I have asked the government for help but they have nothing for us.
Meanwhile at the rubbish tip on the mountainside overlooking the Colombian border men sift through the filthy to try to scrape a living
Workers earn five times a hospital nurse’s salary recycling plastic and tin cans
‘We are desperate for the aid to come through especially because of our son’s condition. We can hardly afford to eat and have nowhere to sleep.’
Meanwhile doctors at the San Cristobal Central Hospital fight a daily battle to find the medicines and equipment to treat their patients.
Medical Director Dr Diego Soler Gomez said: ‘We don’t have 95 per cent of the medicines we need.
‘When a patient comes into hospital we have to ask their family to provide everything we need.
‘This includes the anesthetic, surgical gloves, syringes, sutures, everything need.
‘If they cannot afford to buy these we pray to God and we treat them the best we can.’
Among them is Virgilio Quintero, who lives at the stinking dump, who makes up to $10 per week from recycling plastic and tin cans that are thrown away
He leaves the bundles of bank notes as they are less than worthless in the country
The hospital has been forced to close one intensive care unit because 75 percent of the nursing staff have left as they could not afford to live on the paltry salary of just $7 per month.
But the medical director said his staff were committed to do everything they can.
‘It’s like working in a military field hospital.’
Dr Soler Gomez added: ‘We are not political. We will accept aid from whoever offers it to us. We just want to treat our patients.’
Meanwhile at the rubbish tip on the mountainside overlooking the Colombian border men sift through the filthy to try to scrape a living.
Among them is Virgilio Quintero, who lives at the stinking dump, who makes up to $10 per week from recycling plastic and tin cans that are thrown away – five times a hospital nurse’s salary.
But he leaves the bundles of bank notes as they are less than worthless.
He said: ‘President Maduro can say that the country does not need any help from abroad, but this is the reality.’
Dialysis patient Sonia Gonzalez added: ‘I’ve lived in Venezuela before and after this socialist revolution. For the past 20 years I’ve known nothing but misery.
‘It’s time that people understood what has happened to our country. I was one of the people who made the mistake of believing in this socialist revolution. But now I know the truth.
‘I want the children to have vaccines. I want the milk for the children because their bones are weak. I want pregnant women to be able to give birth with all the care they need. We need proper healthcare for the whole of Venezuela.’
Guaido, who declared himself interim president, greets supporters after attending Mass at a church in Caracas today
Guaido holds his daughter in front of the altar as he waves to the crowd during the mass on Sunday