By Carlos Suniaga.
No gasoline for the hearse. No money for the coffin. And no crematory ovens. As the economic crisis in Venezuela intensifies, families can not give to their loved ones a proper burial. In the poorest sections of Venezuela that the body spends two or three days inside the house until the local government or a charity helps the grieving relatives out.
The sad smell of death wafted over the main street of the Francisca Duarte neighborhood in San Felix. The body of Marcelino Romero, a 79-year-old man, spent three days inside his house, his daughter Yuraima Malave told El Pitazo.
The country has been in a continuing economic downturn since 2014, with hyperinflation now entering its fourth year and successive devaluations reducing the monthly minimum wage to $0.90.
The story of Marcelino is the second known case in a week of a family not being able to afford a funeral in the state. In the Francisca Duarte neighborhood of San Felix, neighbors said that there are stories of bodies spending two or more days inside a house due to lack of resources of the relatives but, most of these stories are not known because the mourners avoid talking to journalists.
Yuraima tells about it and breaks down. “I was carrying him to put him on a chair, and he died in my arms,” she said. At that moment, she remembers, she substituted tears for concern. There was no time to cry because the important thing was to know how she was going to get an urn or at least get the body of her dad out of the house to a place where they could help her.
The first thing she did was go to the nearest police station, the Francisca Duarte Police Coordination Center. Maduro regime police were not much help. “At the police station, they told me to make a hole in the backyard of my house and bury it, that they could not help me,” she added. She returned home and discarded that recommendation from a regional police officer.
“My father already had green flies…it was too hard to see him like that,” she said. Twenty-four hours after the death, Yuraima’s husband, Victor Mota, borrowed a bicycle from a neighbor and rode it to the military base La Chinita, located in the rural area near the community. The officials told him that they had no gasoline, that they could not help him either.
On the third day, on the same bike, Mota arrived at the Mundo Sonrisas, a dependency of the local government. “There they called a colonel, and he said to go get the coffin, and then, they came to look for my father-in-law,” he said.
Regarding the cause of death, Yuraima explained that old age, lack of food, and the precarious quality of life his father was leading, accelerated his death. She admits that she rarely took him to the doctor to find out if he had any illnesses because she did not even have the money to pay for a bus ticket.
“He died with sores in his mouth, he didn’t want to eat anymore. He got paralysis in his legs, the last days, he was vomiting and had a high fever,” he explained.
A small piece of land where they plant vegetables, and the bonus (a stimulus plan that the opposition says is social control in disguise) that Maduro gives them, are the sustenance of Yuraima and his husband, Victor. They also eat at a local kitchen, where they are given a plate of rice or pasta without protein.
The case of Marcelino Romero is similar to that of Alberto Juvenal Murillo, a retiree from Sidor, whose body also spent three days in his house due to lack of resources. Both were neighbors of the Francisca Duarte neighborhood and suffered from the same economic situation.
So far, in the quarantine, El Pitazo has documented three cases of corpses that have decomposed for several days inside their residences in the state of Bolivar.