[Marxism] Free Healthcare in Venezuela Regardless of Class

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 27 09:48:09 MST 2006

(An exceptionally significant report with many implications for
the political and medical situation in Venezuela, Bolivia and
beyond. What a mistake it would be to simply limit medical care
to certain sections of the city or the society. The idea that
medical care is a right for all people is a solid principle to
be understood widely and, hopefully, emulated elswhere as well.

(It's a good thing that Venezuala isn't wasting any money on any
foreign wars and occupations, and with the price of oil on the
uprise, the country can afford to provide this care to everyone.
It will, furthermore, help to undercut opposition to the Chavez
government and the Bolivarian process generally. Keep in mind
that the private fee-for-service model of medical care bitterly
resents the competion from those who believe healthcare should
be a right, not a privilege for the wealth and something which
the rest can get if they are poor enough to quality for charity,
and then only if those wo give to charity give enough. 

Strengthening the working class by providing free health care,
since many don't get it through their jobs, and at the same
time winning the support of as many in the middle classes as
possible by also cutting the cost of medical care can help to
undercut support for the Venezuelan opposition as well, which
is certainly not about to go away. So not only does this give
a practical demonstration of what a socialist government can
do, but it shows an astute sense of political strategy, too.

Compare the Venezuelan experience with the Honduran:

(This is one readers should spread far and wide.)

December 27, 2006

[not yet posted in English]

Free Healthcare in Venezuela Regardless of Class

Ronald Suarez Rivas 
and Alberto Borrego Avila (photos), 
special envoys

MIRANDA, Venezuela.- The doctor's office in the community of La
California Norte was inaugurated amid the protest of people beating
pots and pans and a shower of stones. In fact, the first patient that
same morning was a woman whose head was split open by a piece of dry
ice that somebody had thrown.


"They are communists, soldiers disguised as doctors who are coming to
brainwash people," some of the locals said of the Cuban doctors who
had come to serve at the new clinic as part of the Barrio Adentro
initiative in Venezuela that provides free neighborhood healthcare.

While among Venezuela's poor communities the program has been
received with enthusiasm, in this middle class neighborhood of the
state of Miranda it seemed that it would be impossible to establish.

To begin with, the Barrio Adentro clinics had been set up in the
poorest neighborhoods, but having a free and trusted healthcare
program was a request of all Venezuela and the clinics are starting
to spread to middle class neighborhoods.

"The Cuban doctors? They are very good. Whenever my children are sick
I bring them here for treatment," said Yolanda, a resident of La
California Norte.

Vitta, another local, suffers from high blood pressure and visits the
clinic on a daily basis to monitor her condition. "Before I had to go
to a drugstore, now I come here because I like it better, they take
good care of me and don't charge."

Despite the prevailing opposition to President Chavez in this
community, becoming part of the Barrio Adentro program was an
important step for several of the residents who came together to
create a health committee and support the project.

On May 12, 2004, when the health clinic opened, Dr. Marisol Pelaez
had already been serving the people of La California Norte for eight

"In the beginning we provided our services at a resident's home [.]
and tried to become familiar with the community to become accepted.
The first days were really hard. We barely received two or three
patients, sometimes the same people came more than once so that we
would not be sent elsewhere because of a lack of work."


But as time went by, the doctor's office turned into an essential
element within the neighborhood.

Carmen di Tercio owes her life to it. An aspirin she took caused an
adverse reaction while she was shopping at the Petare Market, and she
asked a taxi driver to take her to the Cuban doctors.

"When she arrived she was unconscious. We immediately injected her,
did an intravenous connection and she regained consciousness within a
few minutes," said Dr. Pelaez.

Yudith Silvera frequently brings some of the 20 children from the
children's nursery where she works.

Before she had to go through an insurance company, "The service was
slow and very expensive, but here they provide care to us immediately
and they are excellent."

Fear? Dr. Pelaez says, "Our commitment with Fidel, the importance
that the Venezuelan Revolution advance because of what it means to
the world and the protection afforded by so many friends made it so
we were never afraid.

"We were always accompanied by members of the health committee, who
came to protect the clinic. Many of the people that were banging the
pots and pans were just misled and confused. They had been told that
we were bringing weapons and were going to preach communism, but
little by little they were able to see the reality. They have even
apologized to us.

"Our secret is to do the best work possible and demonstrate the human
qualities of Cubans. People thank us on a daily basis for what we do
for them, the courage to be here and for leaving behind our families
to come and help them."

Everyday in the waiting room there are both Chavez supporters and
detractors, they sit together and talk while waiting for their turn.

"Before, this type of thing was impossible, without a doubt this is
part of the change that Venezuela is going through," Dr. Pelaez says.

Recently, a rehab clinic opened next door. During its inauguration
there were no pots and pans banged or stones thrown, instead there
was lots of excitement.

Fernando Roca, one of the regular patients, comments: "There are
still people who want to make life impossible for the Revolution and
even for us who live here. The mass media has poisoned them. But we
will continue struggling to make the process advance and so that what
has been built lasts."

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