I also couldn’t find, after a few searches on Google, any information about a Venezuelan aid ship being turned away by the US government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Whether or not the story is true, it is an interesting hypothetical. It is one thing for the US government to decline an offer of assistance from Cuba, a country towards which the US already has insane policies. But it would be another thing altogether to decline assistance from a country just because its President happens not to share the same ideological views as the currrent US President. US-Venezuela relations are still much friendly by comparison.
For example, the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program has been helping over 400,000 Americans keep warm every winter for the last seven consecutive years. As far as I know, the US government hasn’t tried to have it shut down. In fact, former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy actually appeared in a television commercial promoting the program!
The problem is that Chavez has imosed a disfunct medical care system that his citizens must use
First of all, if this were true, the fact that President Chavez has “imosed” [sic] a medical care system–of any kind–means that he has already done more than his predecessors to make healthcare accessible to all citizens.
But it’s not true “that his citizens must use” the publicly funded medical care system that did not exist in Venezuela before President Chavez made it a priority for his government to create such a system. Today both public and private helathcare services exist in Venezuela. Private, for-profit healthcare is not illegal in the country. Those citizens who can afford to pay for medical treatment at private hospitals and clinic are free to do so.
The only change that Chavez has made is to make healthcare accessible to those who couldn’t afford it.
Second, it might be considered hypocritical if President Chavez made a special exception for himself by traveling to Cuba to receive medical treatment, if he denied his own citizens access to that same quality medical treatment. But this is not the case either. Over the past few years, Venezuela and Cuba have both benefitted from an exchange program whereby Venezuela sends cheap oil to Cuba, and Cuba sends its doctors to Venezuela. Over 10,000 Cuban doctors are currently serving in Venezuela, of 30,000 health care specialists, training new medical professionals and bringing free quality healthcare to the poorest neighborhoods. So the Venezuelan people do have access to the same healthcare as Chavez.
But is it unfair that Chavez can go to Cuba, but Cuban doctors go to Venezuela? Not exactly. Venezuela and Cuba have also launched a joint program whereby low-income citizens suffering from eye diseases receive free surgeries in Cuba; patients receive free air travel, lodging and food while in Havana, courtesy of the Venezuelan state, and they receive VIP medical treatment provided by Cuban doctors, treatment that is not yet provided by doctors in Venezuela. In 2007, Cuba celebrated the arrival of its millionth patient through this program.
Third, is it a problem, in your view, that President Chavez receives medical care from Cuba, even though–despite making Cuban healthcare available to all citizens –he has not decided to create a Cuban style health care system in Venezuela? Are you suggesting that, in order to avoid being a hypocrite, President Chavez should impose in Venezuela the same system of healthcare that he benefits from in Cuba?
If Chavez’s goal is to nationalize everything, then he sure is taking his sweet time! At this pace, he’ll have to beat cancer, and then live as long as Fidel Castro to even come close to reaching his goal! For twelve years now, ever since he was first elected President in 1998, the opposition has been spreading unsubstantiated rumors and fears that Chavez’s supposedly secret agenda is to impose a Cuban-style communist, totalitarian regime in Venezuela.
Chavez has nationalized some important industries in Venezuela, but these nationalizations have taken place in a slower and more strategic manner than in Cuba, where all banks and foreign-owned companies were nationalized almost from the start, immediately after the 1959 revolution. By 1966-68, the Castro government nationalized all remaining privately owned business entities in Cuba, down to the level of street vendors.
By contrast, in Venezuela, after twelve years in power, President Chavez, while ordering the nationalization of a few firms and threatening others, hasn’t really touched the largest banks and monopolies in the country; key sectors of the economy remain in the hands of the same bankers, landlords and capitalists as before.
Statistics: in 2011, the state’s share of the GDP was the same as it had been in 1998, under President Chavez’s predecessor! That’s right, despite a number of state takeovers, the private sector actually ENLARGED, to keep pace with the public sector! This is confirmed by none other than FOX NEWS: “the private sector still controls two-thirds of Venezuela’s economy—the same as when Chavez was elected in 1998, according to Central Bank estimates”.
My point is that ‘nationalization’ and the ‘threat’ of it is NOT A GOAL but rather a means to an end. Chavez employs somewhat similar means as previous revolutionaries, but towards different ends. What ends?
The late Christopher Hitchens once asked Chavez, “What’s the difference between you and Fidel?”: > Chavez answered “Fidel is a communist. I am not. I am a social democrat. Fidel is a Marxist-Leninist. I am not. Fidel is an atheist. I am not. One day we discussed God and Christ. I told Castro, I am a Christian. I believe in the Social Gospels of Christ. He doesn’t. Just doesn’t. More than once, Castro told me that Venezuela is not Cuba, and we are not in the 1960s. […] Venezuela must have democratic socialism.”
Opps, I also wanted to comment on how inspiring it is to see Chavez and his democratic majorities in the National Assembly successfully wield the rule of law as a weapon against powerful elite interests. I’m too exhausted to elaborate right now, but I just want to ask you for examples of the “many things” that Chavez has supposedly declared to be crimes, which you think it is “impossible for men to live” without… I think that if you gave examples of these laws, it will be clear to readers that it IS possible to live without breaking them.
That’s your right. BTW, I did a google search of my own and found this excellent post.
the idea that Che was some sort of homicidal maniac who killed people on a whim is rather amusing because it ignores conditions in Cuba at the time of the revolution.
Fulgencio Batista not only had the support of the US, but he had been repressing the country for years. It is widely believed that Batista and his men killed 20,000 Cubans during his final reign. Yet this is never quoted anywhere. Meanwhile Che’s list of verified executions is around 200. Even if in the end he had a hand in the death of a possible 1,000 people, it’s still 1/20th of what Batista did during his reign on Cuba.
Look, it’s a sad fact of life that [Revolutions] cause a lot of casualties. When you are replacing one regime with another there are going to be some broken eggs. Is Che a saint? No, but who is? Morals are an interesting shade of grey, especially when it comes to overthrowing a dictator who is willing to kill so many of his own people. I’m sure George Washington had people executed during the revolutionary war. For that matter there were many men who were executed for leaving both armies during the American Civil War.
In a vacuum, yes, Che’s crimes are reprehensible. But the reality is that this isn’t a vacuum. If Che had been a renowned liberal democrat, trying to spread democracy in the Carribean, would this be brought up? Most likely not. Most Americans for that matter don’t even realize how many brutal dictators the United States supported in Latin America and South America who would kill their own citizens by the thousands.
Well, speaking for myself, I do agree with Castro’s Obama criticism. In many ways Obama has not lived up to his expectations as “the most progressive candidate to the U.S. presidency” (in Castro’s words). That said, it’s not like Castro hasn’t been fair to Obama. In 2008, while remaining neutral in the election, Castro praised Obama’s “great intelligence, his debating skills and work ethic”. Elsewhere he wrote that Obama was “without doubt more intelligent, cultured and calm than his Republican adversary [McCain].” Castro’s views seems quite fair. > “I feel no resentment towards him (Obama), for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favor. I have therefore no reservations about criticizing him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.”
I am already aware of the problems in present day Venezuela. And I even agree with you that the problem of inflation and food scarcity, while not entirely the fault of the Chavez government (but also of hoarding and speculation on the part of some capitalists), has been exacerbated by the foolish decision to institute price controls on basic food items (regardless of the good intentions of this government–in contrast to those under the Punto Fijo regime). Also, you’re correct that this is one way in which Venezuela has, in fact, imitated Cuban model. You mention the other similarities too, but the similarities are just that: In Cuba the revolution nationalized the banks and other keys sectors of the economy almost from the start, and then in 1966-68, all remaining private businesses, down to the street vendors. By contrast, in Venezuela, after twelve years in power, President Chavez, while ordering the nationalization of a few firms and threatening others, hasn’t really touched the largest banks and monopolies in the country. You and I both know that key points of the economy remain in the hands of the same old bankers, landlords and capitalists as before.
But I’ve allowed you to distract me from my main point, which is that the Bolivarian revolution is unfolding according to its own, unique path. It is not yet known where it will lead; this will be decided by the political struggles of today.