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Boy's death outrages Venezuelans in South Florida

Second-grader Oliver Sanchez dies due to medication shortages, mom says

ARIANA CUBILLOS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ARIANA CUBILLOS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – Venezuelans were expressing outrage on social media after the death of an eight-year-old boy who has become a symbol of the dire economic crisis in the oil-rich country. 

Oliver Sanchez, a second-grade student, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer. His mom said doctors interrupted his treatment, because of a shortage of medications.

He died on Tuesday and the wave of outrage made it all the way to South Florida on Thursday, as his funeral was being held. His family was in mourning in Mamporal, according to Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional. They weren't alone in their pain. 

"I cried and cried," Macarena Suarez, who has never met the boy or his family, said in Spanish. "I'm a mom and can't imagine feeling that powerless. My grandmother is sick. We send what we can."

Suarez, who lives in Miami-Dade County's Doral neighborhood, remembers Oliver from images of a protest in Caracas, Feb. 26. He was part of a group that included doctors, nurses, medical students and other patients, who were outraged after Dr. Jose Diaz died. They blamed it on a lack of antibiotics. 

Many Venezuelans who were blaming President Nicolas Maduro's economic policies for the shortages were also blaming him for Oliver's death on Thursday. 

"One of our boys died begging for medical help, while millions are being spent on threatening military exercises," attorney Blanca Rosa Marmol said on Twitter Thursday. 

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