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In Venezuela, Tens of Thousands of HIV Patients Have Received a Death Sentence!

by Lucien Spee in Columns & Opinions , 09 juli 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Just thirty minutes sailing from the former Dutch Antilles Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, you will find a president who not only lets his people starve, but also die from infectious diseases that are completely treatable, such as HIV.

After years of declining infection and mortality rates, these rates unfortunately are rising since 2015. Now, in 2018, we can almost speak of a nation-wide execution. Treatment centres have raised a massive alarm and report that, due to a lack of medicines, a large proportion of their patients have become resistant, with more than half of them at risk of dying of opportunistic infections. The situation of most patients is similar to that of thirty years ago and, according to Martín Carballo, director of the University Hospital in Caracas, perhaps worse.

This kind of news is always shocking, but even more so when it comes from the homeland of your husband. As I am married to a Venezuelan, I have an above average interest in news from that country, and in recent years have become accustomed to dramatic news. What still makes me very angry every day is the indifference of the Dutch.

I am deeply ashamed of our attitude and cannot explain my Victor why the Netherlands do not care that his family is almost starving, that a simple flu was the cause of his aunt’s death, and that thousands of HIV patients have developed AIDS and are dying. It is impossible for me to explain why our government is still doing business with a dictator, even helping him to oppress his people. I can explain, however, that it is impossible to accommodate a few million Venezuelans on the Antilles, but how do I explain why my government sees them as “fortune-seekers” who actually have nothing to complain about? How do I explain why my government feels legitimized to deport these “fortune-seekers” without the right to a decent asylum procedure and to hand them over to their dictator, only to immediately lock them up as traitors in dilapidated prisons and without contact with the outside world.

Minister Hugo de Jonge (CDA) openly wondered how it was possible that 120,000 children in the Netherlands were the victim of domestic violence in the talk show “Jinek.” He said he did not understand why their surroundings do not report suspicions if their neighbour neglects or abuses his children. Unfortunately, I do understand. It is the same indifference with which our government looks at what is happening in Venezuela. Looking away is simply in our genes. If possible, we remain neutral and where it suits us, we respect the sovereignty of our neighbours.

This month, thousands of scientists and politicians gather in Amsterdam to defeat AIDS in unison. The fast-track strategy even wants to achieve this by 2030. This is of course a wonderful objective, and if it were solely up to resources and medical professionals, it would indeed be achievable as the knowledge and therapies to do so are available. But as long as the Netherlands remain indifferent to the problems in Venezuela, and some political parties continue to be conflicted about condemning this left-wing dictator, I do not foresee the solution coming from this country. If it were up to the Netherlands, there will be new fire outbreaks, and complete indigenous cultures will continue to die out, as is already the case with the Warao Indians.

I therefore sincerely hope that I am wrong and that Aids2018 will be the next step towards the political realization that humanitarian aid for Venezuela is not only needed to help the starving and suffering people there, but also to fight the spread of the virus in South America.

   Lucien Spee is general director of the Foundation Amsterdam Pride, for more info see



published Aug 2014       

published May 2019       

published Oct 2016       


In the New Issue of Gay News, 335, July 2019

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