Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Coronavirus highlights Venezuela's socialist failures – after Maduro, US can help them rebuild

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COVID-19 is a global pandemic affecting millions of people from China to Italy to the United States. No country is spared from the virus – over 600,000 individuals across the world have been infected and over 30,000 have died.

As more people become ill, each country's health care systems will be pushed to the brink in an effort to treat an increasing number of patients. Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is helping its citizens and small businesses with a $2 trillion rescue package. Our president also made the right call by shutting down all passenger air traffic with China and Europe, and fast-tracking desperately needed medical equipment and supplies to critical hotspots like New York. He has the right team in place to see us through this crisis.

The United States is better positioned than most to weather this pandemic. We have the best health care system in the world and our government and leaders in the private sector are working overtime to protect our citizens from the health and economic impact of COVID-19.  Other countries with broken health care systems and leaders who do not care for the safety of their people are likely to be particularly vulnerable.

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In a failed socialist country like Venezuela, hospitals cannot come close to meeting the needs of patients suffering through a pandemic. The combination of COVID-19, a deteriorating health care system, and a mismanaged government and economy at the hands of Nicolas Maduro’s brutal regime will likely exacerbate one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

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Hospitals in Venezuela are unequipped to support the needs of patients due to a lack of resources. A former Venezuelan doctor now working in Spain describes Venezuelan hospitals as, “overcrowded, dirty and lacking basic equipment and medicines. When I was doing my residency in Mérida, I often had to bring my own bottles of water in order to be able to wash my hands or face during shifts.”

Many of the country’s educated professionals, including doctors, have fled the country to seek a better life elsewhere. This has resulted in a brain and skills drain that will worsen Venezuela’s response to the virus since the country does not have the human capital necessary to treat patients.

In addition to a lack of resources, Maduro’s regime is cracking down on journalists reporting on the dire state of the country’s health care system. When a journalist highlighted the lack of medical equipment such as blood pressure monitors and syringes, local officials reported him and forced him to go into hiding.

When the Maduro government falls, Venezuelans will look to rebuild their country. Our presence there ensures that we will be poised to help the country rebuild after years of turmoil and failed socialist policies.

Recent numbers indicate that more than 100 people in Venezuela are infected with COVID-19 but officials suspect the numbers to be much higher as testing is limited. Maduro’s dictatorship – like Iran’s – will likely try to cover up its failures and the scale of human suffering in Venezuela in the coming months.

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But the United States does not need to stand idle watching Venezuela crumble; we can take action to help the country rebuild. The Trump administration just announced drug-trafficking charges against Maduro himself, a strong move to further pressure the dictator out. In addition, a select number of American companies are currently allowed to operate in the country. These companies symbolize the best of America; freedom, jobs and prosperity. They are the antithesis of the Maduro regime.

When the Maduro government falls, Venezuelans will look to rebuild their country. Our presence there ensures that we will be poised to help the country rebuild after years of turmoil and failed socialist policies. Without U.S. engagement there, others, like China and Russia, would be ready to pick Venezuela clean of any resources it still has left. Only we and our democratic allies are poised to help pick up the pieces of the Maduro regime’s destruction.

Several American companies operating in Venezuela can serve as a model for economic recovery and a return to prosperity when Maduro's corrupt government is ousted and a new, democratic government takes hold. Additionally, America's ongoing presence in Venezuela can help provide a safety net for the economy once Maduro's government finally falls. Using American industry and policies as a model, Venezuela can once again satisfy the basic needs of the people such as access to healthcare and education.

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COVID-19 will, unfortunately, lead to more death and misery in Venezuela. The state of their health care system exemplifies what we already know: Maduro and his cronies are enriching themselves at the expense of the Venezuelan people. When the regime eventually falls, Venezuelans will look to, and rely on America to help rebuild and provide a blueprint for success.

Our ongoing presence in Venezuela is key to bringing this once-prosperous nation back to health, in the midst of this global pandemic and beyond.

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