In Venezuela, where dozens of children are dying because of a shortage of medicines, and the majority of the population is poor, Nicolas Maduro’s encouragement calling on women to have several children, has caused controversy.
“God bless you for giving the country six little boys and girls,” Maduro told a woman who attended a televised government event on Tuesday March 3rd, praising a social program that promotes natural childbirth.
“Let the country grow,” Maduro said, annpuncing the March 8 Women’s Day celebration.
The comment was criticized by human rights activists and others who face the daily task of feeding, clothing, housing and caring for their children.
“We totally disagree with Maduro’s opinion in relation to encouraging or recognizing the value of women for their ability to procreate and have children and not for what they are worth as citizens,” said Oscar Misle, director of Cecodap, an organization that works to promote and defend the human rights of children and adolescents.
Misle added, “In what conditions would these children, these six children, come to a country where there is no guarantee of food, there are no medicines, where there are serious problems in education, where there is a total lack of security?”
According to the United Nations, more than 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 because of the crisis created by the Maduro regime.
“Doesn’t he (Maduro) know that children are going hungry, that they are dying because they are not treated in hospitals? You have to be very cynical to ask a woman to have six children,” said Magdalena de Machado, a 32-year-old housewife and mother of two, who makes her living working on a street market.
“We can only serve some meat and chicken twice a week. For years we delayed having children, we had them when we thought we were doing better; but in the last year we bought less and less food. I don’t know how we’re going to survive, if this situation keeps going from bad to worse,” she said.
In the midst of a deepening social and economic crisis, women and children are among the most affected. Despite the Maduro government’s promises to provide all women with access to family planning and to protect children, recent studies indicate that the deterioration of maternal and child care is deepening in Venezuela.
According to a recently released survey by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), one in three Venezuelans has difficulty putting enough nutrients on the table because of the severe economic downturn and the country’s long-running political crisis.
“A total of 9.3 million people, almost a third of the population in Venezuela are moderately or severely malnourished, and suffering from Food Insecurity” the WFP said in its report.
Food Insecurity is defined as a person’s inability to obtain basic dietary requirements.
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