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Monday, 30 November, 2020

Elderly siblings were found dead for hunger inside their apartment

The corpses of the two older adults showed signs of extreme malnutrition. Brothers Silvia, 72, and Rafael Sandoval, 73, had been dead for 24 to 48 hours when Caracas fire-men found them inside the apartment they shared.

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By Daisy Galaviz.

Silvia Margarita Sandoval Armas, 72 years old, and her brother Rafael David Sandoval Armas, 73, were found dead and in a state of severe malnutrition Monday, October 26, inside their residence in the Villa II complex, located in Puente Hierro, municipality of Libertador, Caracas.

Silvia and Rafael Sandoval are a tragic example of what detailed the Survey of Living Conditions (Encovi) 2019 – 2020 published in July. The report assured that Venezuela, in terms of malnutrition and poverty, may be compared to the poorest nations in the world since 79.3% of citizens get submerged in extreme poverty, and 96.2% are in poverty and do not have the necessary income to feed themselves adequately.

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According to the neighbors, Silvia and her brother Rafael David use to walk in the garden and common areas of the residential complex. When they went several days without seeing them, they looked for them in their house to verify that they were all right.

Neighbors went up to the apartment, located on the 9th floor of the building, and rang their doorbell. As they did not answer, they decided to call the Caracas Fire Department, who entered the apartment through a window using the rappel technique and found them dead.

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According to officials, Rafael Sandoval had been dead for approximately 24 to 36 hours, and his sister at least 48 hours old. Both presented signs of severe malnutrition, verified by the Bello Monte morgue as the cause of death.

Alone together

The siblings lived just by themselves and supported themselves through the Social Security pension, stipulated at 400,000 bolivars in addition to the Clap bag of subsidized foodstuffs.

Neighbors told El Pitazo that they never receive any visitors, not even from relatives. “They did not talk with the neighbors, always were alone. Like we knew they were alone, we used to knock on their door to give them some food. They said that the previous plate was good, but we are not sure that they ate it.”

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That is the testimony of Yvette Hernández, a neighbor of Silvia and Rafael. She told that since Monday, October 19, they were knocking on their door. During that week, all neighbors tried to know about them with no results. They thought that they went to the hospital, but they noticed a light. After a week with no signal, they went again to the apartment, and they felt a smell and decided to call the authorities.

The fire-men found Silvia dead in the living-room. Half of her body was on the floor and her face over a chair. Then, they looked for Rafael. He was lying on the floor in his bedroom.

The Sandoval brothers presented symptoms of malnutrition when they were found inside their apartment in Caracas. Photo: Daisy Galaviz.

They were workers

Rafael Sandoval was an engineer and worked in a private company until 2007. , Silvia worked in the Defense Ministry until 1989. Both could receive a total of 800,000 bolivars, less than two dollars at the exchange rate on October 30.

One of the neighbors told El Pitazo that in all the years that brothers lived in the building, they did not observe anyone visiting them, nor did they meet any relatives.

«We also think that the grandparents allowed themselves to die, that they surrendered to death depressed when they saw themselves so alone. They were very skinny, but we also believe that this had an influence,” she said.

The Movement Alianza de Lápiz (Pencil Alliance) called the death of Silvia and Rafael a genocide. The secretary of the organization, Eric Ondarroa, posted a video expressing his opinion about those dead for malnutrition.

How much hungry must a human being be to die? The indifference of those who got the power around these issues is outrageous. A responsible nation must guarantee that the last years of the life of those who built it are with dignity, and happiness, instead of hunger and misery,” expressed Ondarroa.

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