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Venezuela: definition of hell

By Alexandra Beech,

Here’s one definition of hell: you’re a Cuban doctor sent by Castro to work in a poor Venezuelan neighborhood. This is your chance to escape the misery of Cuba, though Venezuela is ten times more miserable. So you kidnap a journalist and his cameraman and force him to drive you to Colombia, where you plan to seek political asylum. Only a few miles from the border, the journalist asks to go the bathroom, and instead seeks help from Venezuelan National Guardsmen, who promptly arrest you.

You know it’s bad when you run away from Cuba and Venezuela to seek a new life in Colombia. That’s called desperation.

That is exactly what happened to Cuban doctor Ulises Bernal, who was sent from poor Cuba to the poor country of Venezuela, for the win-a-referendum social program, “Into the Neighborhood,” which has streamed thousands of Cuban doctors into poor neighborhoods throughout Venezuela. But Bernal says that the medical assistance program is not as effective as both governments claim. Fearing for his life, Bernal said that the Cuban doctors don’t cover the number of patients that they report they do.

In other words, business as usual in the Chavez regime, where things are not what they seem.

Where an African Venezuelan is a candidate for the opposition, as African American activists call the opposition racist; where the opposition is divided, yet agrees to one democratic solution to the country’s worst modern political crisis under the norms of one umbrella group called the Democratic Coordinator; where Chavez is a “man of the poor”, yet poverty has only grown during the past five years; where Chavez is also a man “of the people”, yet so many people want him out of office that it took the governments of six countries, the Organization of American States, the United Nations, and the Carter Center to help the government agree to a democratic and constitutional solution to the crisis which is still avoiding to pursue at any cost; where Chavez, a tried and convicted coup-plotter with blood on his hands, calls the opposition “coup-plotting” for planning peaceful marches and demonstrations; where a president that hates and denounces “American imperialism” cuts sweet deals with American oil companies and multi-nationals to deny jobs and opportunities to his own people; where the news media is biased, yet no one has produced a list of the events it has failed to report in the past five years; where the government distributes “scholarships” before building universities; where the middle class is the “oligarchy” and the real oligarchy complains but shirks all responsibilities; where Cuban doctors heal the sick as Venezuelan doctors languish in unemployment; where foreigners take the government tour through the few schools and clinics that work, ignoring the real tour where thousands of children sleep on the streets; where a democratically elected president who can constitutionally only govern until 2013 repeatedly claims he will be in office until 2021; where the president is advised by the one remaining and ruthless dictator in the Western Hemisphere; where a constitution allows a recall referendum, yet the government is doing everything it can to delay it; where democracy is fascism, and fascism is democracy; where a revolution is peaceful, and people get shot protesting; where Cuba is a “sea of happiness” and Colombia is the land of the free, even as people are willing to risk their lives escaping Cuba, and Colombia has turned into a nightmare for those willing to remain within its borders.

I hope that Dr. Ulises Bernal gets justice. No one deserves to rot in a Venezuelan prison, such as political prisoner General Alfonzo Martínez, and no one deserves to die before a Cuban firing squad seeking freedom.

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