Repression and neglect kill three people in Isla de Toas, western Venezuela

People in Isla de Toas say that with the arrival of the pandemic, the most vulnerable families go without food for days. Only two days after a 17-year old got shot and killed in a gasoline protest, two residents died after eating a poisonous fish.

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Residents of Almirante Padilla protest by the lack of food, and gasoline amid COVID-19.

By Eira Gonzalez, additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.

Three inhabitants in the Isla de Toas, an island, once a touristic place located in Zulian state, died tragically in a matter of days, victims of an ongoing crisis caused by food and gasoline shortages.

Joe Luis Albornoz Paz, 17, died July 17, demanding gasoline in a street protest in Isla de Toas. Local media reports say he got killed by the National Guard. Only two days later, a family of nine caught and ingested a poisonous toadfish, since they could not find anything to eat. Two of them died -Joel Adrian Rodríguez, 27, and Franklin Rodriguez, his son of only 12- while the rest of the party remain ill but alive as of this writing.

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The situation in Isla de Toas is desperate. Even the water is scarce. And Zulia state, where the island is, has 25% of all the known Coronavirus cases in Venezuela.

The inhabitants of Almirante Padilla municipality, in the state of Zulia, denounce the daily hardships they are experiencing due to the lack of public services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On the Isla de Toas, families say they have not received food programs, a situation that aggravates hunger in the homes of the town.

The citizens say they only get drinking water every 20 days, blackouts are an everyday occurrence, garbage collection has not done for months, and even internet and cell-phone signal is spotty. Besides, fishermen cannot get fuel for their boats.

Mario Moran, a resident of the island, said that hunger had generated malnutrition in children. “The thing is ugly, people crying from hunger, we dedicate to fishing, but we have had problems with the supply of fuel.”

Moran said that in the last few days, a 19-year-old boy protesting the lack of gasoline got killed. “After that murdered, they started selling the fuel. How long are we going to live in this injustice?”

Currently, the people of Almirante Padilla municipality suffer from “hunger, laziness, and forgetfulness of the government of Nicolas Maduro,” they told El Pitazo.

“Here, the people are without water, without electricity, it seems like a no man’s land,” said one resident.

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