After the Brazilian government news agency went out on a limb telling the world that Hugo Chavez was heading to Sao Paolo for chemotherapy,
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he’ll return to Cuba today to receive chemotherapy, ending rumors he was considering Brazil as an alternative venue for cancer treatment.
“I’m going to begin the second stage of this slow and complex process of recuperation,” Chavez, 56, said yesterday on state television. “The second stage will start with chemotherapy that has already been planned in scientific detail.”
He should be on his way right now,
Congress voted unanimously today to approve Chavez’s plan to depart for Cuba at 3:30 pm New York time.
That’s the Venezuelan Congress, who had to approve Chavez’s remaining in power while being abroad for extended periods of time.
Clearly, Cuba’s advantage over Brazil is total news blackout,
“In Cuba, he has the security that nobody will ever know exactly what he has,” said the former official, who added said that he had been told by a senior Spanish diplomat that two Spanish doctors will be attending Mr. Chávez in Havana.
Considering that the announcement from Brazil had to have been in the works for a while, and that Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo has traveled to Brazil for his own cancer treatment, Fidel may be the one calling the shots (emphasis added),
It is unclear what tipped the decision. From a technical point of view Chavez would be better off in Brazil, Venezuela or a country like Canada, the quality and size of cancer treatments in these three countries is considered to be much more advanced than that of Cuba, even if in Cuba, he could be taken care off by doctors of other nationalities. It is likely that in the end ideology tipped the decision Cuba’s way. I am sure that Fidel Castro and Chavez’ brother Adan put a lot of pressure on the Cuban choice. An isolated Chavez in Havana is much more under control than one in Sao Paulo in a private hospital. Those that have the most to lose, will now control the day to day life of the Venezuelan President and, indirectly, over the country.
Additionally, there’s the propaganda factor,
Analysts said Mr. Chávez may have decided to go to Cuba for treatment for political reasons more than medical ones. Seeking medical treatment at a private hospital in São Paulo could offend Mr. Chávez’s Cuban allies, Fidel and Raúl Castro, who have long touted their hospitals as a socialist success story.
While Mr. Chávez often lauds Cuban doctors, switching from Cuban to Brazilian care would have suggested the Cubans aren’t capable of world-class care.
Chavez is touting Cuba’s medical reputation at his own country’s expense,
Still, the fact that Mr. Chávez is leaving Venezuela to continue his treatment suggests that hospitals in Venezuela weren’t considered a serious option. That, analysts said, underscores the turmoil in both the public and private medical sectors during the Chávez years—and a deep animosity between Mr. Chávez and the country’s highly educated doctors.
A parallel network in Venezuela of free primary-care clinics, called Barrio Adentro, staffed by Cuban doctors, has provided quicker access to millions of poor. At the same time, it has pulled much-needed resources from the mainstream hospital system, says José Félix Oletta, a Venezuelan health minister under a previous administration.
Deteriorating working conditions coupled with notoriously low pay has driven Venezuelan doctors to jobs overseas, he said. “Venezuela medical professionals who are well-qualified are receiving very little money compared to other countries,” he added.
Despite the brain drain, top Venezuelan doctors say Mr. Chávez would get excellent treatment in Venezuela for all but the rarest sort of tumors. Although Mr. Chávez has attacked private doctors during his term in office, calling them mercenaries, his animosity toward them wouldn’t affect his treatment, doctors insist. “We are physicians,” said one prominent doctor.
While you can rest assured that the Castros will ensure that their pupil gets the best medical care Venezuelan oil money can provide, it would be ironic that Chavez’s undoing comes as a consequence of this decision.
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