Archive for August 23rd, 2006

Death and health in the revolution

August 23, 2006

—-El Nacional has
a terrifying article
today about how paid assassins have killed over 100 union
workers in the construction sector in the Guayana region in the last couple of

What are these deaths about? Easy, who gets jobs. As simple
as that. In a region with 65% unemployment, mafia-like gangs want to control
who gets and who does not get jobs by scaring people away from the gates of
construction sites. If they do not get scared away easily, or unions send them
to those gates in order to show the force of the unions, they simply get gunned
down by paid killers in their “carriages of death”. Reportedly people get paid
as little as Bs. 100,000 to shoot down these union workers, well below the “national
average” of Bs. 500,000 to kill someone.

And the Government? I
have no clue and apparently neither do they as the article says that the
Vice-President of the police for the state of Bolivar said the killings will
continue as long as the people are not disarmed.

—Seven years ago Hugo Chavez promised to restructure the Health
sector and asked for an enabling law that included that reform. Nothing was done then, little is being done today. We all hear
about the wonders of Barrio Adentro, which curiously was not started until five
years after Chavez got to power, clear proof of the improvised nature of the so called revolution.

But how do you justify that with the huge
windfall the country has been having in the last few years, with Barrio
Adentro, infant mortality has barely budged in these years? Shouldn’t there be
an improvement. Marino Gonzalez
in today’s Tal Cual
shows statistics that are and are proof that this
country has become simply organized chaos. Infant mortality has barely improved
since 2000, malaria cases have increased from 16,686 in 1999 to a staggering 45,300
in 2005 and dengue cases have gone from 26,716 in 1999 to 42,199 in 2005.

Given that malaria had a full department in the Ministry of
Health since its creation in the 1930’s, this is something that can directly be
blamed on the Government. Venezuela
was never able to eradicate malaria completely, but its many projects to
control and contain it made it a model country until Chavez took over.

What changed? For one, Chavez began replacing everyone in
the Ministry of Health with people loyal to him, discarding decades of experience.
used to have experts on everything from attacking the problem, to preventing the
problem of malaria. They were mostly gone by 2001 and it was only when statistics began
looking bad that there was the suggestion that there might be a problem. Because
in the end, politics is the priority and malaria is not a problem for all, but for
the 40,000 plus people infected every year and neither Barrio Adentro nor the Government’s
emphasis in health, does deal with the problem, it has become simply another
fragmented part of the fragmented Venezuelan health system.

Meanwhile Chavez gloats in China that Venezuela is consolidating itself as an “intermeditae power”. Whic simply shows that power and politics is all that matters in the revolution, not the well being of the citizens. But the wealth of a society is not measured by its weapons or power, but by the health, education, rights and well being of its citizens.

Dr. Barreto by Teodoro Petkoff

August 23, 2006

Dr. Barreto
by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

Yesterday the metropolitan
Mayor, doctor Juan Barreto, victim of one of his proverbial hydrophobic attacks,
starred in a deplorable spectacle, insulting and assaulting his colleagues from
Chacao and Baruta, the middle class in general, which it considers “putrid” and
“brutalized by money” (We don’t know if he was referring to those whose soirées
he goes to with pleasure, to have his pictures taken for the society pages) and
finally he launched, for the nth. time, his threat to expropriate the golf
courses of La Lagunita, to build “popular housing”, with the incredible added
commentary that if he feels like it, he could expropriate a whole municipality.
Never had doctor Barreto barked so loud, after all, under his management he has
not bitten anyone and has starred in a colossal failure as metropolitan burgomaster.

Perhaps therein lies the
explanation for his cheap bully attitude. The failure; the horror in which he
has turned that part of the city in which he mostly exercises his mandate, with
the aid of his rival Freddy Bernal- who, by the way, complains that doctor
Barreto perturbs his management with constant useless and inefficient
intromissions- and which contrasts with the clamor in those parts of the
metropolitan areas where those assaulted by him carry themselves out much more
efficiently. The insults and violence were a compensation mechanism for his
ego, damaged by his own incompetence and incapacity for doing anything

But that is not all. Doctor
Barreto is also an expression of the worry and concern that has begun to go
around some of the corners of power, given the perspective of electoral results
that no longer ratify the triumph of the ten million votes and of the two
extended hands to symbolize those numbers. Chavez already gave us a little
“discount” and reduced it to six million. They are going to have to saw four
fingers off the two little hands, which leaves five on one and one on the
other, in that classic position in which hitting both hands, with the index of
one between the index finger and the big finger of the other, Venezuelans are
saying “Six million? No way!” the perception that the space is narrowing, that
the opposition appears united and with a visible face, while the internal
fights within MVR and between that and its partners are corroding the campaign,
is beginning to create desperation. Those that can not control their nerves,
like Juan Barreto, incur in those brutal and regrettable blunders, with which
they believe they can manipulate the
popular sectors that trusted them before and that no longer even believe even
in the Creed. Caracas,
especially in its two extremes of the East and the West, is a social powder keg
that has completely overflowed the mayors of officialdom and doctor Barreto.
They can’t handle that load and the people perceive it each day more clearly.

That has doctor Barreto
uncomfortable; he can no longer control himself. What makes us curious is to
see how he is going to expropriate a whole municipality. It would a historical
landmark of a the universal scale.