Alexander Gonzalez is a convenience store manager in Rio Chico, Venezuela. Like others around the world, the 36-year-old is dealing with a quarantine. But it is not Gonzalez’s first experience. Because of the country’s overall danger and rise in crime, he has spent a lot of time stuck in his home with his family.
On March 16, the Venezuela government took severe measures to ensure that everyone remains home during this time to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Since then, Venezuelan citizens have been prohibited from traveling to other states and must wear masks and gloves when driving. On March 25, U.S. prosecutors indicted the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro, for narco-terrorism and international cocaine trafficking. The country, which is suffering from a U.S.embargo, is also on a shelter-in-place order; those out for non-essential reasons can be arrested or fined.
Alexander feels the government has locked down not because of concern for the safety of citizens. Instead, officials understand the country lacks resources to deal with COVID-19.
Alexander is an essential worker and must keep his business open. However, even with protective measures, he is concerned about what could happen if the virus continues to spread.
Here is his story:
“My biggest worry during this pandemic is that someone in my family gets it. Due to the Venezuelan crisis, our hospitals do not have enough equipment or medications to help cure those infected with the virus. If it continues spreading the same way it has been in other countries, it will be a disaster in Venezuela.
“I also feel that many people in our country cannot afford being tested and that the government is hiding a significant number of those who have tested positive for COVID-19. I’ve had family members in Spain die already due to the virus, and it’s just devastating. One thing is watching the news, and another is actually realizing that this is happening and it’s killing people all around the world. I just hope that everyone understands the importance of staying home.
“The government has asked everyone to wear masks and gloves at all times when working or being out doing essential things. They have also shut down all the borders and have not allowed international travel from Europe and Colombia. Maduro’s government has also proceeded to cancel all public events to ensure social distancing.
“You can tell the streets are emptier. In our small town, you only see people out if they are buying groceries or basic necessities. People here understand the situation but there are always people that don’t care. As a business owner, I have reduced the number of employees that come in and help me. I have also made sure that everyone is six feet apart and wearing gloves and masks at all times. No one is allowed without them. Our small staff now consists of three people max at the store and we are constantly working on disinfecting surfaces that are commonly touched by people.”
Alexander expresses his concerns for those around him.
“Everyone looks worried and scared, and we should be. This is serious and if we can’t even find basic medications now, imagine being struck with this huge pandemic. We wouldn’t be able to handle it. There are insufficient beds and medications now. Hospitals would collapse. It would be total chaos for the country.”
Alexander says that everyone must take precautions and just be understanding about the whole thing.
“This is something that clearly affects everyone, and we must do what is best for everyone, which in this case is to stay home.”