The chatty doctor


I had never heard the name Salvador Navarrete before. A Venezuelan doctor, I now learn.

Navarrete was all over the news yesterday.

In a wide-ranging interview (in Spanish), Dr. Navarrete was quoted as saying what everyone has been murmuring for the past month or so: that Hugo Chávez is gravely ill with a pelvic sarcoma – a retroperitoneal sarcoma – and that he has, at best, two years to live.

Navarrete claims he was the President’s personal surgeon until earlier this year, and that his information comes from the family, as well as from consultations with other doctors. He says he has not personally evaluated Chávez’s condition because the President has switched to dealing exclusively with Cuban doctors. As a curious side note, he confirms that the President is manic-depressive.

I have no way of knowing if Navarrete is right or not. His claim that he was the President’s doctor has not been challenged, but if he has been treating the President’s health all these years, he must be “wedded” to Chavez’s revolutionary project. He claims to have been a part of the President’s (extinct) MVR party.

In other words, this is no opposition doctor.

Initially, I thought this item blasting the messenger but not denying the content was the official government response. However, I have not been able to find the original source, so I don’t know if the government has said anything about Navarrete’s claims.

Regardless, there has been no official response denying these claims. Until now, there is no counter opinion, no real dispute over the facts, and no attempt to reinforce the President’s message that he “has no cancer.”

I don’t know what all this means. What I do know is that someone in the opposition has to begin talking about this publicly. Obviously, it can’t be the Presidential candidates, but pretending like Chávez having a terminal illness is not a game-changer is, frankly, nuts.

Up until now, Venezuela’s government has relied on three things: the President’s overwhelming popularity, his control over the Institutions and the Armed Forces, and the sky-high price of oil. It’s the vaunted three-legged stool supporting the regime.

A terminal disease challenges two of these three. The outcome could be one of two: either the stool collapses, or it’s replaced by another, more repressive stool. Either outcome is bad for us.

Then again, the good doctor could be wrong, and Chávez could rise from his illness like the proverbial Phoenix.

It’s a tricky situation for the opposition. Discussing the ills of your political opponent can make you come across as callous and insensitive. But I’ve always believed it’s best to talk about things than to ignore them. And right now, there is a big, fat, red elephant in the middle of our public-sphere living room.

We need to – sensitively – begin discussing the transition away from Hugo Chávez more openly, because it’s a real possibility. It might not happen, but it very well might, and it does us no good to ignore this possible outcome.

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  1. Salvador Navarrete (father) is a well know medical professor with high credibility within the venezuelan medical community. The question lies on the fact: are these his words? Or is it a rumour “said” to come from him. The retroperineal sarcoma diagnosis however, would be under Dr. Navarrete’s field of expertise.

  2. The whole thing is very strange. Why would a serious and respected doctor put his personal deontology on hold and start spreading his patient and his patient’s family medical history in the media?

    Bizarre to say the least.

    Unless, of course Chávez gave him explicit permission….

    • He certainly sounds like a respected physician. Regardless, maybe he feels this is something the public needs to know, and disagrees with the government’s continued denials.

      I spoke to a pathologist friend of mine and he told me he agrees. Based on the little we know and the type of treatment Chávez claims to have been receiving, he thinks that’s the right diagnosis. He also says it must be advanced.

      So, the questions that beg asking: what happens? What happens if Chávez doesn’t make it to the elections? What happens if he does, but he’s ill and dies afterwards? What do we do about the Cubans? About the Armed Forces? Who is going to replace Chávez?

      Is it right for opposition politicians to simply not talk about this?

      • Sorry, I can’t trust a Doctor that discloses private, confidential medical info/diagnosis.

        Someone is making a profit of this, either economical or political

        • maybe he was acting under chiabe’s orders who knows?? like an indirect way of spreading the word? i wouldn’t put anything past the manic depressive managed by the castros.

        • If someone discloses the president’s sexual orientation, what he likes to eat, watch, read, whatever, I don’t care. And yes, that person is doing something wrong, because the president has a right to a private life.

          If Chavez has the flu, he has a right -I think- to be left alone. It’s his personal life.

          If he has a dissease which could lead to his passing, I (yes, “I” ) have a right to know!!! the guy is not a monarc!!! he is the president, and has certain powers until his periods ends. If there is a posibility that he won’t make to the next election, or he may be unfitted to do so, I HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW.

          I honestly don’t understand why this is not clear. If I’m CEO of a company, and get cancer, and that company is public, that should be public. It probably is by law in some countries. But no, Chavez has to pay respect to no one.

          It’s the people’s taxes that will pay the whole mess that can come out of it, like elections and so on.

          Someone should had come out -or should come out- and say what’s really going on. These whole secrecy just reinforces my opinion of what chavismo is: a cult. Any other political party would be discussing what to do openly.

          • padova,
            I love your comment. You are 100% correct. In fact, you bring up an interesting issue: who is paying for Chavez’s trips to Cuba? Well, we know the answer: we are. But that shouldn’t be allowed. Hugo Chavez’s personal health bills are not the taxpayers’ problem. He should reimburse the State for the use of the Presidential plane to go to Cuba to get treatments he could very well receive back home.

          • sorry juan that’s being absolutely optimistic, expecting chiabe to pay for his med bills… (lol) my god, this guy nos clava with $12.000,00 a month for shampoo and sundries- which i may state that obviously now he isn’t using. does he return it to the state? no…
            what about cadivi, does he go thru the stupid pain in the neck 3 folders with an inverted clasp to get money for his travels? does he make his ministers and reps go thru cadivi when he sends his 100 + entourage, his feathers and music circus to geneva? no…. he thinks he is beyond the law of the land.
            although i agree with you. jobs resigned when he couldn’t be apple’s ceo anymore. but here we are talking about a narcissitic manic depressive with a power adiction, not a responsible citizen. he obviously goes to cuba, because the cubiches keep his med records etc secret.
            what stroke me most about the chatty dr.’s interview was how he described the discussion he had with chiabe about being politically irresponsible about his health, when he didn’t go through with the suggested double endoscope exam way back when. and his distrust of anything coming from vzlan drs. i surmised that afterwards he stopped treating chiabe. what you describe and wish for would probably happen in the usa, nordic countries and /or kico’s canada. i think…

          • Look to Paraguay for an example of how a President with cancer can be handled responsibly. The President is not a private citizen, so the normal confidentiality clause becomes a guideline rather than a rule. You don’t need to know if your fearless leader had a manual prostate exam, but you need to know if he could keel over, since such an event could really impact your life.

          • Excellent! Dr. Navarrete has not violated any law. He did something unethical. But it is also unethical not to reveal the details of Chavez’s disease. This secrecy is bad for the country because it engenders more and more uncertainty and this is unethical too.

            I wouldn’t over think the intentions of Dr Navarrete. He probably was in a dilemma (like many other doctors) between shedding light on Chavez disease (by violating his moral code) and letting the country stay in this state of confusion. My guess is that he is putting pressure on the government so that they release a medical brief

  3. Dr. Navarrete is either a good citizen paying a service to the nation, in the absence of an official Medical Report on the President or he is an unethical doctor violating the doctor-patient privacy relationship.
    Or both.
    But this is academic. What is important is that the cat is out of the bag. Dr. Navarrete is no quack. Look at his C.V. He knows what he is talking about.
    Other possible scenario:
    The interview Is planned misinfomation by a chavista doctor, designed to promote sympathy for Chavez and gain him votes for 2012. I give this illogical scenario a 5 percent probablity since Venezuela is not a logical society.

    • I hadn’t thought of that. I guess sometimes we forget we are dealing with conniving, evil people.

      However, most signs point to Chávez being very sick, don’t you think?

      • NO. I give the conspiracy theory a 45% chance, not a 5%. If a red elephant fell from the skies and hit the road in front of me on the Panamericana I would just be relieved it didn’t hit me, I wouldn’t be surprised.

        As I mentioned earlier: we had on average a magnicidio report every 4 months since 1999. Later in 2010 people started to make more and more fun of it and Chávez said several times it was shameless for the opposition to deny those reports.
        And then he has cancer.
        Perhaps he does. Perhaps it is a minor type and they concocted this.

      • Juan Cristóbal, you have to consider that they could perfectly be using the truth in their conniving, since not only lies are weapons… Usually they use these techniques to pull some strings in the public’s perception about the president or the government, or to bury an issue beneath a ton of scandalous non-issues. Maybe the’re trying to bury an issue beneath something that is true. I which case I would wonder what the issue is that they’re hiding, apart from the fact that we currently don’t know who the heck is governing the country.

    • The interview Is planned misinfomation by a chavista doctor, designed to promote sympathy for Chavez -ABSOLUTELY. It is full of praise of Chavez in every possible way -a superhero-blah, balah blah. B.S. -See it for what it is!!!!!
      Conviently released when Chavez goes back yet again to Cuba..
      more later…

      • I should have put quotation marks around the first sentence.-from Mr. Coronel.
        (All respect to Mr.Coronel-one of my most favorite true heros whom I agree with wholeheartedly)

  4. It’s going to be a mess Juan. He should all pray that Chávez makes it and then he is CLEARLY defeated in the elections. Any other scenario is not good news.

    On the other hand. I had cancer 12 years ago, and here I am….

    • First off: Congratulations, survivor!

      About your other point, I wouldn’t be so sure. I mean, obviously, defeating Chávez at the ballot box would be ideal. But if God has other plans, it might just work … Yes, the uncertainty will be heightened, but as they say, “muerto el perro…”

      • i don’t think que se acabó la rabia… unfortunately. muerto this perro se forma la san pablera unless he loses the election. i would love to see him tried in the intl court of law. and pay for his treasonous crimes against his country. even if he’s sick like our political prisoners are in jail and sick.

  5. Dr. Navarrete seems to exist… I googled his name and the story and curriculum do match. The man specializes in what is commonly known here as reducing the size of your stomach, which in turn makes you thinner.

    He graduated from the Luis Razetti Med School, UCV. My mom remembers that her obstetrician in the 60’s was one Dr. Navarrete, at the Luis Razetti clinic. Could be his dad.

    Having said that, it remains a mystery to me as to why did he speak so openly. Either he’s a very, very brave man or just playing us as a fiddle.

  6. What I found most interesting was the comment the Dr. made about the militars taking power. That’s probably how they are looking at it, they are not thinking about the constitution that says the vicepresident takes over and calls for an election.

    We have several scenarios, if he dies before the election or if he wins the election but dies shortly after. It will be an interesting situation and yes, we should be prepared, but I don’t know if that debate is going to happen openly. But if we do talk about it we should focus on the constitution, that was the mistake with Carmona. If he dies we should be ready to defend the constitution and get the vicepresident to call for elections. It will be tricky, but I think it’s our only chance.

    (SN: Ese escenario tiene dos opciones: uno con Chávez candidato y otro sin él. El Presidente puede morir y los militares tendrán que tomar el poder por un tiempo; o, si su enfermedad le impide ir como candidato, el oficialismo perdería las elecciones.)

  7. I am a retired venezuelan physician and I beleive Chavez is in a dire health situation with a very low probability of surviving more than a few months. But the unethical conduct of Dr Navarrete has no excuse, the Hipocrates Oath should prevail even in the case of an expatient.

    • Manuel,
      I agree this is very unethical (I am no doctor but have quite some physicians in the family), but tell us: what are the possibilities that he is just faking it, that he may be ill but they are making out of a treatable disease something that looks terminal?

      I know this would be weird but then it’s Venezuela.

      • Kepler: even that de exact diagnosis is a gamble he seems to be very much affected by the treatment, so is very unlike that he’s faking it. I presume he REALLY has a psoas sarcoma due to the symptoms and the secuence of them (leg pain, abcess, at least two surgeries), with four courses of chemotherapy -is very unusual unless is very malignant form or cancer- and he’s receiveng high dosis of steroids (cortisona like) due to the cushing he’s developing.
        It may be that he will not be there for the next election!

    • Manuel, I would agree with you unless someone thought that it was a choice between 2 different evils.The he would have to pick and choose.We can follow a good rule only up to the point where the rule serves an ethical purpose.

      • Firepigette, an oath it’s not a rule….sombody says rules were made to be broken…
        It is said that Navarrete belongs to a comunist family and has been with Chavez since the start, so, I do not think he has a dilemma between two different evils.
        He broke his oath, and the reason must be political, I do not understand what can he gain with his words! as he will be attacked by his fellows unless he was ordered to say it by a “superior” .

  8. What the hell is M Semanal? How the hell does a story this big get out through a Mexican magazine nobody in Venezuela reads!? I dunno, that doesn’t really add up for me. If I’m Navarrete I go to the BBC with this, or to a big Colombian paper, or to the Nuevo Herald. M Semanal!?? Don’t get it…

    • It is propaganda.
      My favorite part is the history-why Chavez would not let Doctors insert a camera in his rear-end in Vz.. Finally -in Cuba (at a party with Raul and Evo…?) Chavez let someone probe him-I rolled on the floor laughing at that… now- Chavez keeps returning to Cuba- ..go figure.???

      • Put it the other way, Victor Flores Garcia, the Journalist that interview Doctor Navarete knew him from its time in Venezuela as AFP ‘s chief editor of the Caracas bureau, so it was the one getting the story from the good doctor. Victor Flores Garcia is a veteran journalist, with 12 years sting in Agence France Presse-AFP, he now writes out of Mexico for various Central American newspapers and magazines, he is Mexican correspondent.

        • But this is not about a journalist. This is really amazing that a physician
          spills the beans like that. It is simply NOT done.
          And then there is that letter Canuck showed. What are they concocting?

  9. I’m so skeptical of this story…the guy, when you read this:

    SN: No es un tumor de próstata. Es un tumor que está muy cerca de la próstata y que probablemente invadiendo su vejiga. O es un tumor que se origina en la vejiga y que está invadiendo la pelvis. En todo caso, es un tumor que se origina en la parte de abajo de la pelvis, que es considerada la región anatómica que está dentro de las caderas. Atrás de esa región están los músculos psoas ilíacos, que es el músculo que, insertándose en la columna lumbar, levanta el fémur hacia arriba. Es el músculo que permite levantar la rodilla estando sentado. Por eso pensamos que el tumor es de naturaleza muscular, que está alojado y originado allí; lo digo porque, antes de ser sometido a la intervención quirúrgica para extraer el tumor maligno del tamaño de una pelota de beisbol, el Presidente resintió un problema en la rodilla: un dolor referido. Por eso estamos casi seguros de que se trata de ese tipo de cáncer. Esa es un información que por el natural interés público la hemos ido integrando, construyendo poco a poco. Soy el cirujano de la familia y me reuní con otro de sus médicos (de la familia), compartimos la información disponible y coincidimos plenamente en este diagnóstico que estoy haciendo.

    is doing the same thing we’re all doing, hilvanando teorías en base a información fragmentaria. It’s not like he has a leaked medical report or a biopsy lab result he’s working from, or any kind of privileged information, really. Just a hunch.

    I just don’t think this is a scoop, this is a guy speculating out loud…

    And, again, M Semanal?!??!?!??!?!??????!??????

    • Well, not quite. He used to be Chávez’s physician, and he claims he got his information from talking to the family. That’s more than any of us can say. Is he talking out of his ass? Maybe, but if that’s the case, where are the denials?

      Truth or gossip, the fact remains that everyone has picked up on this.

    • Maybe he moved to Tacoland…I just read the comment section under the article and had a ball!!! It’s noticiero digital over there!!! But I dunno… some people do not speak well of the good Doctor ;=)

      • “had a ball!!!”

        Ditto. Loved the woman who complained of schizophrenia in the Navarrete family, because she married that one. To which another commenter said, anyone who marries a schizo has to be crazy. Jajajaja.

        • Syd- I think this doctor Navarette-made a pass at Chavez- and Chavez turned him down- then ..well. we knowthe rest of the story. (Chavez was not lying when he whispered to Raul that
          he was a virgin..-jajaja)

          • I don’t buy it. But there could be some revenge issues involved of a different nature..

            By my calculations, SN only attended Chavez for about a month as his doctor. ..

            Formó parte de un equipo de 3 médicos, y en conjunto fueron a evaluar a Ch en Marzo 2002. Luego del “golpe”, Ch. se puso en manos exclusivas de los cubanos, aún en cuestiones de salud. Poco después del “golpe”, SN abandonó la militancia política, pasó a los “cuarteles de invierno” como asesor del gobierno en áreas de salud, y por fin se retiró en julio 2011. Ahora se dedica plenamente a la actividad médica y académica. Pero sí sigue siendo el cirujano de la familia. Se reuníó con otro de sus médicos (de la fmlia), y ambos compartieron la información disponible, coincidiendo plenamente en el diagnóstico.

            Ojo! Ni uno ni el otro es oncólogo. Ni uno ni el otro tiene información privilegiada, a menos de que un miembro de la familia soltó un hilito. Pero un mero hilito tiene que haber sido. The G2 probably even has the Ch family on a short leash.

            The only thing that really interested me was SN’s deduction of a cancer with a muscular origen, given the short history of Chavez’ symptoms and SN’s knowledge of muscular anatomy. As for SN’s public discussion of an ex-patient (Ch), I’m beyond horrified. In fact, it disgusts me. So, too, does SN’s hiding his political agenda behind a lab coat.

            Me da un asco.

    • the problem is that sometimes always crying wolf keeps people from believing , but there is always that time where the cry is based on truth and our job is to discern the difference which admittedly is not easy

  10. Also-the part about the psychiatric treatments- this is all a propaganda story
    to try and make Chavez “understandable” as a superhero -to el pueblo…

  11. I am on Kiko’s camp on this one. The content seemed to open, to detailed. The timing unreadable, why now?, and the medium, an Nicaraguan journalist on a mexican magazine….???

    I don’t know much, but it smells fishy! We will see how its plays out.

    It’s all about keeping the audience’s eyes where they want, not on the magician’s hands when he does his trick!!! we are being played stupid, everyone’s eyes are on this clown and the real puppet masters keep embezling the country dry…. Who cares about Chavez, he will die, everyone does, my issue is with Venezuela, no one seems to notice? distraction distraction and more distraction.

  12. Using the doctor’s flaws (no ethics! flimsy magazine!) as an excuse to simply refuse to debate the issue is insane. Yes, maybe Chávez is not sick, but what if he is? Will we only begin considering / preparing for what comes next after his burial?

    “Como vaya viniendo, ¡vamos viendo!”

    • I’m just saying that this is being treated as an “inside track” when it isn’t – we don’t know anything after reading the interview that we didn’t know before reading it, cuz this guy doesn’t have access to the actual clinical data any more than we do.

      • He says he spoke to the family, and he has intimate knowledge of the President’s previous health and routine. Ideal? No. It’s not a certified medical report or anything. But it’s inside track-y enough for me.

  13. Dr. Navarrete is a disgruntled Chavista. He has been talking about Chavez’ cancer in private for a while. The funny thing is that he is fuzzier in what he said to this paper. In private he says it is bladder and 12 months tops. I think he wants Chavez to choose a successor and not leave it till the last minute that is the whole point of blabbing publicly.

    I have been betting in my blog that Chavez will not be around for my birthday (I am Taurus). He has been very sick from day one, He almost died in June. What is really new? Look at the baloon face, do you think that is normal?

    • His balloon faced is caused by bloating brought on by steroids to control the side-effects of the chemotherapy drugs.

      One thing I’ve learned over the last year is that Common Sense “just look at him” approaches do NOT work with cancer, much less cancer being treated this aggressively. At times people who look terrible are just showing side-effects to treatments that are curing them. At times people who look fine have months to live.

        • Right, but notice what’s just happened…we’re again going-back-and-forth speculating between alternative explanations on the basis of no hard data whatsoever. Elucubra-Nation

          I agree that we have a right to know what is happening. But we don’t. And M Semanal is NOT the place we’re going to find out.

          • I agree on what you say, all I am saying is that Chavez was really sick even before Navarrete spoke, is nothing new. I was told in May he was really sick and everything that has happened just confirms it. There has to be a reason for not saying specifically what it is, but what we are told is lies. No cancer like that gets 4 chimio sessions and that’s it. He could last years, it happens with many cancers, but he does not seem to be getting better. If it is bladder, he will not last. But Juan is right, Chavez dissapearing from the scenery is a very true possibility before Decemebr 12 2012, why not talk about it? I worry about it. A LOT.

          • It’s on my mind, too. a lot. And I expect we are not the only ones. Glad you earlier provided forums for discussion, Miguel. Good to see Quico now following suit.

      • Absolutely.
        Surgeries combined with intense chemo and pain control drugs, plus drugs to counter balance chemo’s side-effects will make anyone look very sick.
        After living for a year in a hospital’s cancer ward, where all patients are severely ill, the one thing I learned is with high grade cancer there are NO certainties. Death can occur at any point during the treatment but chances are it will occur in the years that follow the end of the treatment. Then again there are the Brunis that 12 years later are alive and kicking!

        • Bruni did not keep it secret.

          If it did not have a bad prognosis, Chavez would have his doctors bore us to death with how well he is doing. That’s his style.

          And yes, even bladder cancers sometimes go in remission for no reason.

          • Miguel, as you I believe chances are Chávez will pass during the following 24 months. And yes, we need to plan ahead and not be caught by surprise. In fact, I’ve been following your blog closely since all this started because you’re constantly reminding the opposition to be prepared.
            What I find unproductive is to go on speculating about the disease without a medical report. Anyone going through such intense cancer treatment is at high risk of dying soon, regardless of the specifics. I believe we should focus less on the cancer and more on the thinking ahead.

      • Thank you Manuel. I knew there had to be a label for the abnormal, smooth expansion of the face, scalp, and neck, these being the only body parts, other than the hands, which are exposed and visible to us. It certainly didn’t look like fatty tissue, which too would have been abnormal in such a short period of time.

  14. I think this is fishy.
    I’m almost certain that we’ll see Chavez playing ball again on Sunday or so, dismissing the doctor by making fun of him, just how he did it a couple of weeks ago with the rumors of the dialysis.

  15. Yes- and how the doctor “conviently” stated- if Chavez dies, the military will take over-
    as if this is “written in stone”…Hello?

  16. From what I gather I think that he is sick, and I could even buy into this “2 years tops until he kicks the bucket”. But I also think that this is a smoke screen, something that has been orchestrated from within chavismo. It may not even be Chavez the guy behind this. It might be someone well positioned right now as an heir apparent that got jumpy at the prospect of being left out. He just steps on the gas and precipitates everything. Why a mexican magazine? I guess he wants to cover his tracks.
    what I don´t beleive is that the good Dr. just decided to go public all of a sudden with this. I think he was either manipulated into it, or paid handsomely for it. There is more to this than meets the eye.

  17. Miguel’s explanation that this Dr. being Chavista feels that the cause is better served by choosing a successor in time, than the uncertainty created that Chavez might die without any preparations having been made.This is the most convincing motive I have heard up to now.

  18. JCN said: “…maybe he feels this is something the public needs to know,”

    You know that was my 1st reaction when I read the article yesterday.
    Now, after reading all the comments I just don’t know.

    Maybe it is a set-up but with the references to his mental state I tend to fall back to my first reaction.

    If this was just a ploy to gain sympathy then why bring up the info on his instability?

    I firmly believe, like Miguel, that he’s very sick. Things have to change & this would be one solution. The closer to the elections the better. If Miguel is correct & the window is April/May that would be perfect, IMHO.

      • If Chávez were to die, or was physically unable to run, and the opposition were to win, our victory would be no less legitimate than any other. We play with the cards we’re dealt with.

        If chavismo wants to doom itself by placing its political survival on the actual survival on a single person, that’s their mistake.

    • You don’t know how long it’s been since he examined Chavez. The article doesn’t say.

      Regardless, the post is not about whether or not Chavez has terminal cancer, but about the importance of discussing the possibility that he does.

      • Here’s my two cents:

        Some of the things regarding this relevations by Dr. Navarrete, like the alleged source of the interview or the fact that he decided unilaterally to disclose private medical info of his former patient. However, the point that JC makes is key: Hugo Chavez is not an ordinary citizen, he’s the head of state of a nation and ergo, his health is a matter of public interest. The way the whole issue has been dealt with since the news broke out has been embarassing. The truth about any president’s health is a matter that can not be kept secret from the citizens. This bad soap opera just leaves me exhausted and bittered.

    • It’s OK to be skeptical because it makes you critical. But being over skeptical doesn’t lead to rational thinking and makes you a cynic.

    • He hasn’t examined Chavez in years but just the fact that he once did gives him a certain air of credibility. Let’s look at the facts. I really don’t think this is Chavez somehow trying to muddy the waters like some posters have claimed. That would be as dumb as the assertion that he somehow made up this whole cancer thing to score popularity points. (The assertion was made often when he first announced his illness) Chavez is not some mastermind pulling strings from behind a curtain. This illness has shown us that he really isn’t in control and that the vultures are circling as soon as it looks like the guy might keel over. Also, how does a doctor that no one has ever heard of get an extensive interview in a respected Mexican newspaper? It strikes me that someone had a vested interest in spreading this news, most likely someone outside the country with the media connections to make an interview such as this possible.

  19. I just went to ND to read some of the other comments in Spanish to see if there was anything that might apply to our reasoning here.

    Someone posted this link:

    This interview was done in May, 2010 & indicates that this doctor is involved in a political movement called “De Frente Con Venezuela”.

    Among other things it proposes a candidate other than HFC for the elections of 2012.

    This now puts a whole different light on his motives & would indicate to me that there is a political force behind his declarations & that he has chosen this time to reveal this info to push his own candidate’s agenda. This would also lend a certain amount of credence to his comments.

    • Here’s part of their manifest:
      “(…) proponemos al pueblo venezolano la participación en las elecciones presidenciales con una candidatura propia, distinta de Chávez y de la que presente la oposición, capaz de unificar a los venezolanos patriotas, que están o han estado dentro del gobierno, con grupos y personas igualmente patrióticos, quienes fueron empujados, por la gestión gubernamental actual a respaldar a las fuerzas opositoras existentes. Se trata de construir una república contemporánea, reto muy a propósito en este momento cuando nuestra Patria se apresta a conmemorar el bicentenario de su nacimiento como república.

      Que nadie se deje chantajear con la acusación de ser traidores y de haber abandonado viejas posiciones. Los traidores están en otras partes y los fracasados, de ayer y de hoy, también. (Camilo Arcaya, Josefina Baldó, Elizaine Calatrava Armas, Franklin Fuenmayor, Luis Fuenmayor Toro, Marcos Gómez, Alirio Martínez, Salvador Navarrete, Oscar Noya, Sergio Otero, Luis Carlos Silva, Fermín Toro Jiménez, Rubén Vargas, Federico Villanueva, César Villarroel, siguen más firmas.)

  20. TSJ says LL has all of his political rights, just has adminsitrative sanction, sentence is not “executable”…legal yadayadyada

  21. A family member is in surgery right now with this doctor (bad choice and bad timing, I know).

    Two things I learnt. There is a Barinas connection not only from him but from other doctors that work with him. And clearly he did not just say this and pack his bags.

    So it is either planted information or this is a shot in the internal chavista war.

  22. Why is Chavez so afraid of LL? He would not have ordered the TSJ to ignore the IACHR sentence if LL were not a real threat. Maybe he knows something we don’t know. Now we have to wait and see if there will be international repercussions. Given the strong network of supporting countries in the region (also known as “los tiramealgo”) my opinion is that there will be hardly any immediate consequences. In the long term this undoubtedly represents another blemish in the already damaged image of Chavez and his government around the world. In Chavez’s chess game, he exchanged his pawn with the opponent’s bishop. He knows he is losing on the reputation side, but he believes this move guarantees him wining next year’s election. From that perspective it looks like a good move…

    • I don’t think it’s about LL alone. Letting him run for office would deprive the government from using the comptroller general to ban strong opposition candidates in the future. There’s about 800 banned politicians and there’s probably going to be a lot more in the future.

    • Virtok,

      Very good point you have here!

      Chavez, being such an ego maniac, he judges others by his own standards, and only feels threatened by someone with a strong personality and charisma .He believes that when the chips are down that the Venezuelan people will be swept away through their emotions instead of opting for someone whose appeal is mostly about reason and efficiency ( like Capriles).

  23. tambien muy interesante sera ver que tiene planificado y que ejecuta LL et al. Because, lets face it, they knew the TSJ was not going to accept the ruling…. (I wish they have something planned that is, Eudomar Santos aside)

  24. @puzkas says:
    En pág 37 de la sentencia se aclara que @leopoldolopez tiene garantizado todos sus derechos para participar en elecciones de VP o de la MUD

    No entiendo…

  25. So, in short, we end up as we began. Not knowing about the seriousness of Chiabe sickness… will he last, will he not…
    The only comment that I do not agree at all was Moctavio writing “No, I hope he runs and loses, make it legitimate, not God playing another joke on Venezuela.” I think the only two jokes god has played on venezuelans are ourselves or Colon discovering us Instead of the british or dutch… we have been blessed with everything and blew it all away.

  26. JC, addressing the main point of your post, regarding what to do with chavez gone, I suggest having set of quotes of his at the tip of the opposition’s tongues that can be used to base suggestions for actions. For example, chavez siempre habló de eliminar la pobreza; esta propuesta elimina la pobreza. Trabajemos juntos…

  27. I agree with Quico, JC and Miguel. There is no new revelation from this doctor. He’s just speculating the same as many other have done and keep doing. The fact that he once had Chávez as a patient briefly in the past doesn’t give him any more relevance or credibility specially because he himself recognizes he is merely speculating. In that sense he is not violating his ethical obligations. Although when he reveals medical details from 9 years ago when he saw Chavez he is in fact violating his ethical obligations. I’m guessing he is doing that to make it seem like he has privileged information and give bloated importance (no pun intended) to his declarations. In that sense he has succeeded.

    On the other hand I do believe Chavez has a high probability of dying within 2 years and that should be discussed like JC says. So let’s discuss it, what are the proposals?

  28. It seems that every fortnight a rumor mill on the President’s demise is turned on… I’m sure this is a red herring: a long article from someone with no real journalistic contacts in an obscure Mexican outlet, providing both medical factoids and political dictums (“the military will take over if Chavez is not the candidate”, or something to that effect)… And it appeared first on a note by AVN which Noticias24 copied verbatim and some people tweeted. Then the mainstream media reprinted the story, in all its stenchful glory.

    Who wins? The government can portray itself as the aggrieved party (the doctor’s behaviour is sketchy, at best -he’s no Brutus-) and then cash in some sympathy on the deniability stories, on the good-will towards an ailing (or convalescent) President, and on the perceived “necrophilia” by the Opposition and the media. I disagree with JC: if I were an opposition spokesman, I wouldn’t touch this piece of news with a ten foot pole, and so far, give or take a few exceptions, there has been discipline on the matter.

    The Unidad’s message on the President’s disease is clear: this is a serious issue, the government is taking it lightly and, by being opaque, it has actually worsened the condition of the President and the institutional checks on the matter. The opposition is smart enough not to play into the government hands (whether it knows, exactly, how serious the President’s condition is: strategic advantages meet principled stands).

    • I couldn’t find the AVN note. There is nothing in the AVN site, nor in the MINCI site. Noticias 24 reproduced a bizarre chavista note, but there was no source to the original. If you have a link to the original story, send it, ’cause I couldn’t find it.

  29. I think we should walk away from Dr. Navarette’s story.Just a
    repackaged spiced up same story….
    Meanwhile “back at the ranch”-work to be done…

  30. The only important thing is to run the hardest, most active electoral campaign for 2012. To move, move and move. To produce a serious challenge to this sick regime and sick man.

    Give the sick man a real race where he has to run. If he dies for it, he killed himself. If he doesn’t want to die, retire!

    If not, still there’s a very difficult election to win and the chavistas in government will make it as uphill as they come.

    To hell with Chavez and his health and all the speculation. He is a dangerous liar and a pro at obfuscation. He is sick and still spewing hate. Die already or retire!

  31. dr navarrete is being held at the DIM… says N24. so….the plot thickens. by the way, a friend tweeted referring to LL’s sentence:” it’s as if caldera had said ” you’re indulted, but can’t leave yare” same same i guess…

  32. Juan:
    You write:

    “Up until now, Venezuela’s government has relied on three things: the President’s overwhelming popularity, his control over the Institutions and the Armed Forces, and the sky-high price of oil. It’s the vaunted three-legged stool supporting the regime.
    A terminal disease challenges two of these three. The outcome could be one of two: either the stool collapses, or it’s replaced by another, more repressive stool. Either outcome is bad for us.”

    I cannot believe that a Venezuelan patriot such as you can look forwad only to a WORSE outcome as the result of a major disruption in your chaotic “business as usual”!

    Pehaps this lies at the heart of what I yell at you and Quico for: ignoring the development and promotion of a just legal architecture for a post-Chavez Venezuela. You have become so used to the routine of reporting how bad it is, that you can’t see how much bettter it can be! It has nothing to so with Hugo’s illness – he will be gone some day, REGARDLESS. WHY NOT PLAN FOR IT? If you good people can do better than he did, when will you start?

    That said, I admit I’m only a casual observer, and I hope I’m wrong – that somebody like Capriles has an idea what do to besides rail at Hugo the Horrible Hopeless. Hugo the Will-go will go; what then?

    Is it wrong to ask journalists to help formulate visions of justice to guide future policy, or is it enough to complain and predict only the worst? Once again, let me mention that when – not if – Hugo goes , the army will be in charge of maintaining order. Do you believe that all of the officers are born-again 19th century Marxists? – That none of them want a liberal Venezuela? NO, they will do as they TRIED to do in 2002 – find a civilian willing to take charge at Miraflores. Who will be standing there this time? A defeatist democrat or an opportonist caudillo?


    Best Regards,

    • Is it wrong to ask journalists to help formulate visions of justice to guide future policy,

      Yes, it’s way wrong. Journalists are reporters (what, with one year of J-school?), not lawyers, or the like who are better trained/equipped to navigate what can be sticky terrain.

    • Deedle, I guess you’re right in that the collapse of the stool would not be a bad thing. Uncertain, yes, but probably not bad. As a friend said to me when I expressed misgivings about this outcome, “una muerte prematura de Ch sería lo mejor que le podría pasar a la oposición.”

      Her words, not mine.

  33. Quico,

    I agree that one of the reasons LL was chosen for elimination was that it would cause maximum damage to the opposition like you describe in your post, but this does not necessarily negate the fact that LL is also the candidate they are most afraid of. In fact they kill 2 birds with one stone – creating havoc in the opposition and eliminating the most charismatic candidate.

  34. Folks,
    I think you’ve been cutting the salami too thin on Dr. Navarrete and his motives. Just google “Chavez Sarcoma” and you’ll see that the exact same “diagnosis” SN disclosed had been leaked from a medical congress in Germany (and tweeted by a Colombian journalist). Several sources, including the Clarin in Argentina had been talking about it for weeks before SN’s interview. So, it appears Navarrete just used his vantage point (as former Chavez’ family doctor) to emerge as the legitimate whistleblower. Why?. Maybe to push a political agenda within Chavismo, as someone suggested, but must likely out of pure ego. I happen to have met SN briefly about 20 years ago and he never came accross as a “Nángara”. He’s more of a “sifrino”, “big ego”, “know it all” type of guy (although he does come from a family of old comunists…his dad was a well known “cabeza caliente” obstetrician). So, the idea that he’s a true Chavista is just odd to me…he’s probably just an oportunistic “coleado” like there are many within chavismo. But, anyway, notice he dignoses Chavez’ on Oncology, Psychiatry and Psychology, non of which he’s a specialist of). He also ventures into political scenario anlysis, talks about electoral poll figures, you name it. All very congruent with with someone who wants to give a “tubazo” and gain notariety. .

  35. 1. I feel that the simplest way to think about this is: Hugo Chavez is an employee of the people, and the people need to know if and when Hugo will be ready to go back to work! Period.

    2. Hugo has said to his employers that the cancer cells were gone many weeks ago. So, my assumption as an employer is to believe that he should be back to work any time now.

    3. Well, he went back to Cuba for another course of chemo. O.k. I suppose this is extra precaution, and I can live with that. So, can I assume this will be the last course of chemo? Can I assume that the treatment is finished and the round face will soon be back to normal? You know, I am the employer and I need to know this…. it is my RIGHT!

    4. I’m going to take a position here, as an employer, that if there are two more chemo therapies, then you are lying to me. The cancer is not gone!

  36. Reaaaaaaaaally old post, and I really don´t care about anybody’s illnesses … Just three, very important, words… DOCTOR – PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY… we cannot forget about that, it is one of these INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT principles, like CLIENT-ATTORNEY PRIVILEGE and journalism’s SOURCE PROTECTION, not to mention secreto de confesión, people, for those Catholics out there. You infringe on those, you should lose your license -in this guy’s case, his ability to practice health.


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