Caracas asks UN for help with medicine shortages

By Jorge Rueda, AP

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has asked the United Nations for “help” boosting medicine supplies as he struggles to combat crippling shortages.

“I’ve asked for support from the U.N. to help treat economic and social injuries that have hit our people caused by the economic war and the sharp fall in petroleum prices,” Maduro said in a televised appearance Friday.

He didn’t provide any details about the request except to say that the U.N. has the expertise to normalize the supply and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs in the country.

But just acknowledging that Venezuela needs outside help is a telling sign of how far the nation sitting atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves has fallen under Maduro.

Maduro’s socialist administration prides itself on being a provider of humanitarian aid to poor nations around the world. Even as he called Friday for the U.N.’s assistance, his aides were hosting a business forum called “Venezuelan Powerhouse” and the military was dispatching two cargo planes of emergency supplies, including some medicine, for victims in Peru of that nation’s worst flooding in two decades.

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the U.N. about the Venezuelan request.