For the last two years Norma Camero Reno has been shipping a steady supply of desperately needed medicines from the United States to Venezuela. Reno and other members of her nonprofit, Move Foundation, pack painkillers, cold medicines and other supplies to be distributed to hospitals, health clinics and churches throughout the beleaguered nation.
Two weeks ago, however, that all changed.
Reno, a Venezuelan-born, Tampa-based lawyer and founder of the foundation, said that for years her organization faced very little pushback from the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro when sending packages of food and medicine to the country. But when she arrived in the small, Venezuelan coastal city of Barcelona two weeks ago, Reno discovered that none of the recent medicine shipments had made it to her contacts in the country.
While the group has in the past had to deal with Venezuelan officials confiscating food shipments, this was the first time that medicine has been stopped from being delivered.
“They are stopping everything from going in,” Reno told Fox News. “They are taking everything for themselves.”
Venezuelans have struggled in recent years to get their hands on all types of medical supplies – from over-the-counter painkillers to infection-fighting antibiotics – as the country grapples with widespread shortages and soaring inflation rates brought on by economic mismanagement from the socialist government in Caracas. The lack of equipment like respirators has become so dire that babies are dying in maternity wards from commonplace infirmities that are now considered life-threatening.
Social media has erupted with pleas from many Venezuelans for groups to send prescription medicines to fight illnesses from diabetes to cancer.