This is another story for those of you who like to read about Venezuela’s day to day struggle in medical regards..
Myriam (not her real name) is a third year surgical resident struggling to get her diploma in the final run of her grad school voyage in an overcrowded, understaffed, and understocked hospital in Caracas, working under the hellish conditions of the public health system in Venezuela can really take out the worst in you, as I have told in previous accounts, but Myriam, being the kind soul she’s always been keeps her cool until her cool boils to the point of total armageddon, but that’s another story.
One day, after she finished the rounds, she was approached by a thankful patient whom she had treated for an ulcer in her calf, resulting from the chaotic mixture of diabetes, poor circulation, and not being able to find the appropriate medication. The woman, in her forties thankfully gave Myriam as a token of her appreciation her CLAP bag, CLAPs are Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción, government mafias that distribute food amongst the hungry masses in this expaís.
The bag contained two Harina Pan corn flower packs, a pack of pasta, two bags of rice, four rolls of toilet paper, a tube of toothpaste and a pack of black beans.
Myriam told the woman that she was giving her too much, but the woman insisted and our resident carried home a prized possession.
On her way back home, a couple of blocks away from her apartment building complex, there was a huge ruckus, a truck was distributing CLAP bags, scores of people surrounded the truck and thuggish national police officers and national guards, wielding their guns, cocked them and ordered the crowd back to face a wall. A group of police officers surrounded Myriam and asked her where did she came up with that bag, and demanded she presented her ID, a receipt and the corresponding Libreta de Entrega, a sort of euphemism from its cuban predecessor Libreta de Racionamiento. A card that gets a stamp by a people’s commissar every time someone gets food from a CLAP.
Myriam told the police officers that her bag was a gift, one of the female officers violently grabbed her by the arm and shoved her behind the squad car, Myriam yelled and cried for help, the officer took out her retractable metal baton and smacked her in the knee, making her fall to the ground and impounded her CLAP bag.
That’s right dear reader. The national police robbed a surgical resident a bag of corn flour
Except from the bruises, and the indignation, Myriam went home with a big bruise to her knee to rest and tell her family about her ordeal.
A couple of ibuprofens, and several ice packs later, her knee still hurt, but she managed to heal the pain. But not the humiliation.
Myriam is the type of person that doesn’t forget a face.
A couple of days later, in a busy Friday night shift, Myriam gets a heads up from a security officer:
-Cops got shot in an ambush, two on their way here, one male, one female.
The male got a gunshot wound to the abdomen. So he required an exploratory laparotomy, a surgical procedure in which they open the abdomen and search the small intestines for tears or any vascular damage. That’s a couple of hours, Myriam thought, but the second cop, the woman, who got shot in the thigh with an exit wound near the groin, looked all too familiar.
– Coño, es ella!. she said as she pointed her finger towards the woman lying in the gurney and said to her fellow residents that she recognised the female police officer that beat her up and robbed her a bag of food.
The female officer was crying for help, and Myram approached the officer.
-How the fuck could I remember you? Fix me up, don’t let me die.
Myriam examined the woman, and realised that her wounds were just superficial, but quite painful.
-Where does it hurt?
-My knee still hurts sometimes, you know? Did you take that flour home? And as Myriam said these words calmly, the jaw of the police officer dropped, and she looked as though she had seen the Grim Reaper straight in the eye.
-Did you take the food you impounded me for yourself?
-Yes, I was just following orders, my Commanding Officer said I could keep it.
As this happened, Myriam’s finger poked the hole the bullet had produced, sending jolts of pain to the officer’s thigh and the ensuing cries followed.
You see, I have to check for the trajectory of the bullet, since your thighs are fat, this might be just a flesh wound, after all, I believe you’re eating my food.- Myriam said as she leered at the officer.
By this point, I think that you, dear reader know what happened after. The cop, being taught a painful lesson, apologised to Myriam and a few days after being discharged, a courier showed up at Myriam’s post with a bag containing food.
Myriam took care of the officer and the officer was taught a lesson.
Although Myriam did cross some ethic boundary at causing her pain, the fact of getting a freebie food bag, losing it and recovering never happens. And that’s the reason why I share this with you, dear reader.
Many people in my country get robbed by thugs, and by police officers, the same ones that the National Assembly wants to give a social security bill with ridiculous and impossible to pay benefits, the same ones that kill students, kidnap demonstrators and police food lines.
They’re also the same ones that live this tropical Holodomor as much as the rest of us do in this expaís.