Death by asphyxia in Venezuela

August 25, 2005

Daniel and I never posted jointly before, we talked about this, I
looked into some details and he wrote it. To me this is too important
an issue, not only the tragedy, but the defense by the Mayor blaming
everyone but his administration. The truth is that this had never
happened before and it happens because of neglect as Chavez is on the
12th. day abroad, giving away our money and our oil right and left.

Death by asphyxia in Venezuela

To
all the diseases that we once thought were all but eliminated in
Venezuela but who in this past 6 years seem to be making a come back
(Malaria, e.g.), add a new one: death by asphyxia in Venezuelan public
hospitals. Yesterday the big news was that in the night of Tuesday to
Wednesday four people died of asphyxia at the Magallanes de Catia hospital as
the supply of Oxygen run out. A media firestorm erupted. One side
blamed the victim and the suppliers of gas and the other side blamed
the total anarchy of Caracas
public hospitals administration and the huge debt accumulated by the
state to its doctors and providers; these can only be expected to hold
the hat for so long until they just cannot provide their services
anymore.

There is no point in arguing this case as the
guilt of the state is only too obvious, such incidents multiplying fast
as the collapse of the radiotherapy services in public hospitals
reported in recent weeks demonstrates. It seems that all intentions and
cash go for Barrio Adentro, the public relations program touted urbi et orbi
for propaganda purposes while the hospitals infrastructure and services
keep degrading. Unfortunately for Chavez, his propaganda tool of Barrio Adentro,
for all its possible virtues, cannot go much more past some aspirin and
simple stitches: it is a basic primary health care and it cannot
perform the complex functions of hospitals, or even “half way”
hospitals such as our “ambulatorios”.

But let’s look at the government excuse of budgetary constraints. Two characters to examine.

Barreto, mayor at large of Caracas,
claims that the monies are not coming through (for which declaration he
surely will be reprimanded severely!) This admission of how the
Venezuelan budget has become Chavez personal purse where the states and
cities cannot even get the share imposed by law shows the evil of
centralized power. But even if we were more than willing to grant
Barreto this excuse, the way he uses the monies that reach him are
simply abject. Last July Barreto was involved in some totally
un-transcendental dispute about the true name and foundation date of Caracas. This made him order a few paid advertisements in Caracas
newspapers, including even a FULL FOUR PAGES in El Nacional, on August
2 if memory serves me well. I regret that I have not saved it or taken
a picture to use it today as it could not be found in El Nacional.
However, Miguel did send me this picture attached which shows already a
half a page paid add. By the way you can observe just by the
composition the pamphlet nature of the ad.

or this other ad where the Mayor touts the “win” by the Chavista, paid by the municipality.

This picture by itself cost, I am told, 6 million
bolivares. The four pages which were at national level cost at least as
much. And there were more, in more papers. So, let’s not be nitpickers
and say that all his little campaign for massaging Barreto
pseudo-intellectual ego cost Caracas
town hall 15 million. I am told that the oxygen bottle that were
missing cost 400 000 each. A simple calculation shows that Barreto’s
ego trip could have bought 37 oxygen tanks. How many people could be
saved? The reader can draw its own conclusions.

But some might
say that I am unfair with Barreto, the mayor of such a large
metropolitan area cannot be bothered with oxygen tanks inventories. So
let’s look at Asia Villegas, the one in charge of medical supplies in Caracas town hall. That woman, instead of looking into how many Band-Aids were needed for Caracas hospitals did manage to pick up a feud with the US embassy. The reason? She was refused a DIPLOMATIC visa to go to the US for some women’s right conference. The embassy quickly pointed out that since she was not a national government employee she was asked to justify the reasons to demand a special visa when
she could apply for a normal visa like this blogger would do. She
preferred to make a big stink out of it, probably considering that as
the sister of the ambassador to Mexico
and of the star anchor man of the state TV, VTV, she should be treated
like royalty. Such a revealing glimpse into the mind of chavismo!

There is no conclusion needed, the reader’s intelligence is enough to decide.

PS:
This post although written by me has been researched and discussed by
Miguel and myself. It is thus signed by both of us and will later
appear in Miguel’s blog. The outrage must denounced in a single voice. You are invited to copy and paste in your own site and add your signature.

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