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August 25, 2005

What's Chávez up to?

From the Christian Science Monitor...

Chávez, whom Christian televangelist Pat Robertson says the US should assassinate, has been traveling the hemisphere offering preferential oil deals, barters, and loans to leftist and left-of-center governments. In the past 30 days, the leader of the world's fifth-largest oil exporting country, has inked deals with Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Thirteen Caribbean nations signed a deal for cheap oil in June. And since April, Cuba has been getting almost all of its oil from Venezuela in exchange for doctors and gym teachers....

"Chávez is a man with a mission. He is determined to use the enormous windfall from record oil prices to pursue his Bolivarian Revolution on the regional stage as aggressively as possible," says Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington, D.C. "He is intent on building a counterweight to US influence in the Western Hemisphere."...

Carlos Granier, an economist at Cedice, a Caracas think tank, says that the 13-nation Petrocaribe group formed by Chávez, is described as a "nonprofit political enterprise" of strategic importance by Venezuela. "This peculiar jargon hardly conceals the pretense to use "oil as a diplomatic weapon," says Mr. Granier.

Ricardo Hausmann, an economist at Harvard University's Kennedy School and a former minister of planning in Venezuela says, "There is no economic rationale in these deals.... It is a political investment." The opportunity cost of the deals - a loss of payment at market price - is clear, says Professor Hausmann. "What is less transparent is what Venezuela is going to get in return - is it good will? Is it Latin American support for the day when Chávez decides to radicalize his revolution, prompting an international reaction?"

BusinessWeek reported in March...

Venezuela, once a dependable American ally, has become a thorn in Washington's side. The White House takes a dim view of Caracas' sales of subsidized oil to Fidel Castro's Cuba. It's also none too thrilled that Chávez is using petrodollars to outfit his army with Russian-made Kalashnikov rifles, combat helicopters and MiG fighter jets.

VenezuelaAnalysis also reported in March...

As Chavez began to export cheap subsidized oil to Cuba, Fidel Castro sent over 13,000 doctors to Venezuela. Today, the doctors are spread throughout the Andean nation and have access to over half the population, a first in Venezuela’s history. Chavez’s move to bring in Cuban doctors was one of many factors regarding his rule that provoked Washington.

While Venezuela exports somewhere around $5 billion a year in oil, the average per capita income is around $5,000 a year. As with most Central American nations, health care for much of the population is virtually non-existent. While hundreds if not thousands of Americans, including my wife, make an annual trip to Central America to provide free medical care for rural Central Americans, the media rarely notes such actions. Meanwhile a sudden (albeit temporary) influx of such a large number of devoted Communists into the Venezuelan countryside will undermine the concepts of freedom an liberty that the United States has been desperately trying to instill on foreign nations.

There is no real military threat to Venezuela, yet while his people lacks the basic necessities of life Chavez pumps $1.6 billion a year into the Venezuelan military. Propaganda efforts such as the Cuban propagandist influx is how Chavez manages to stay in office, in spite of repeated coup attempts, and close elections.

While the MSM whine about Pat Robertson's mythical powers over the Bush Administration, they ignore the fact that Robertson's fear were legitimate, only his suggested solution was flawed.

....meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports Cubans are suffering even more from Castro's propaganda war...

The Cuban doctors program is wildly popular among Venezuela's poor. But Cubans have begun to object that the exodus of their healthcare workers is taking a toll on medical care for Cubans. Most people interviewed would speak only on condition that they not be identified or asked that just their first names be used, for fear of reprisals.

A 45-year-old nurse in Camagüey province said she has worked without a doctor in her primary-care clinic for more than two years since the physician was transferred to another clinic to replace a doctor sent to Venezuela....

Castro recently raised medical workers' salaries so that a doctor with two specialties earns the equivalent of $23 a month, according to Granma, the communist party newspaper. The pay, which doesn't stretch to buy shampoo and other essentials, is one reason health workers are attracted by the extra $186 monthly stipend on average they earn in Venezuela.

Josefina Jimenez, 61, a retired Havana teacher whose son was recently hospitalized, complained that ''there are too many students doing the job of doctors, because so many physicians are in Venezuela."

Maria, a Havana dentist, said her clinic now has six instead of 16 dentists, a reduction that has ''affected quality." Danilo, 29, a Havana hospital nurse, said his overnight rounds have increased to nine from six times a month because of colleagues going to Venezuela....

Meanwhile, medical training in Cuba has been trimmed by two years, from six years of study and a minimum four years of residency, a change that will bring more doctors into the system faster. Medical school enrollment and graduation rates are up from last year, according to official figures.

Twenty-three dollars a month?!? You can make more than that off writing a blog...well, not a whole lot more.

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 25, 2005 07:03 AM

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» Pat Robertson and Hugo Chavez from T. Longren
The fact that blogs and the news are covering this freaks me out a little bit. I’m sorta disappointed in the blogosphere for continuing to cover this…I’ll just add to the pile. I remember having to watch Pat Robertson on The 700 Clu... [Read More]

Tracked on August 25, 2005 08:58 AM

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