22 students brought home from Venezuela

Saint Lucian students who were awarded scholarships to study medicine in Venezuela are back home, the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development has said. A statement issued by Permanent Secretary Esther Brathwaite said the students had to be brought home because of existing conditions in the Spanish-speaking nation. “The welfare of our students at any educational institution is priority for the government of Saint Lucia,” Brathwaite asserted. She disclosed that the ministry is exploring other options.

“Once the students satisfy the matriculation requirements of an accredited university, the students will be able to pursue higher education,” the PS disclosed.

Riot police clash with residents of La Vega, a low-income neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela earlier this month. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Riot police clash with residents of La Vega, a low-income neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela earlier this month. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Venezuela is suffering the worst economic crisis in its history. Ordinary people in the oil-rich country are regularly going without food. Three-quarter empty supermarkets are being ransacked by angry, hungry mobs. The government has declared a state of emergency, food is now being transported under armed guard, and basic necessities are being rationed. People have to queue for hours and sometimes overnight on their assigned days to receive staples like rice and cooking oil.

The shadow of hunger, the desperation of the crowds and the spread of unrest and criminality threaten the government of Nicolás Maduro, three years after he was bequeathed power by the dying revolutionary strongman, Hugo Chávez. The opposition has launched a drive to canvas signatures for a petition for him to step down. That will be a difficult task in the face of a state-run electoral system determined to thwart it, but the state may implode even if the recall referendum fails.

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