You did WHAT to free health and education programs?!!


“Created” them? Did you just say you created them?!

Watch me blow the rest of that gasket over on The New Republic.

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  1. But the revolution DID create flagship healthcare and education missions.

    Nowhere in the piece does he say none existed before.

    • Would that argument have the same impact if he had said it?

      “We created additional programs to the already existing universal, free healthcare and educational programs”

      Somehow, it seems now…. less dramatic…

      • Well, if he were going to mention the existing programs, the truth is that they left a very large chunk of the population with an extremely low level of education and inconvenient access to low quality healthcare.

        • Well, that’s true. For instance, the caudillo Chávez, even though he finished bachillerato de ciencias and started a PhD in history, thought mankind was just 20 centuries old…and the guy’s psychotic tendencies didn’t get treated.

          • If you’re honest, you’ll admit you just derailed our debate, rather than concede that what passed for education and health pre-Chavez was part of a general misery suffered by many millions of victims.

          • Yoyo, I always thought that the definitive argument for the improvement in quality of healthcare by Chavez under his government was that when it came to cancer, he sought healthcare elsewhere.

            If you spend billions of dollars, by your writ, to improve a healthcare system for El Pueblo, and then choose to not utilize it for yourself…well, we have a saying around hereabouts about putting lipstick on a pig.

        • they left a very large chunk of the population with ….inconvenient access to low quality healthcare.
          In looking at the gold standards of Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy, we see that for all the propaganda devoted to the so-called miracle of Chavista health care, Venezuela’s performance in public health under Chavismo is about the same as during the Fourth Republic, and not exceptional compared to other countries in South America.

          % Decrease in Infant Mortality
          1985-1998 Venezuela 10th in South America
          1999-2011 Venezuela 10th in South America

          Infant Mortality
          1998 4th in South America
          2011 4th in South America
          2012 5th in South America

          Increase in Life Expectancy
          1985-1998 10th in South America
          1999-2011 12th [last] in South America

          Life Expectancy

          1998 5th in South America
          2011 5th in South America

          These figures say that in terms of progress in public health, Venezuela under Chavismo has performed about the same as Venezuela did during the last years of the Fourth Republic.

          This destroys the Chavista narrative that “Things were SO BAD under the Fourth Republic and are SO GREAT under Chavismo.”

          World Development Indicators Databank(World Bank)

        • Synonyms for Yoyo from Merriam -Webster dictionary:

          berk [British], booby, charlie (also charley) [British], cuckoo, ding-a-ling, dingbat, ding-dong, dipstick, doofus [slang], featherhead, git [British], goose, half-wit, jackass, lunatic, mooncalf, nincompoop, ninny, ninnyhammer, nit [chiefly British], nitwit, nut, nutcase, simp, simpleton, turkey.

        • I don’t remember thousands of community doctors living right among the people who need them most, or remedial education for the millions who had been grossly underserved in their youth.

          • and if I recall correctly that health program you are referring to paid in oil to a foreign country to employ foreign doctors instead of employing venezuelan doctors. We are talking about the same thing, right?

            and to which educational program are you referring to here? To the one to get rid of illiteracy at a higher cost than previous programs but with less effect? Or perhaps to the financial aid programs that no social impact has actually been measured?

          • It bears noting that the “doctors” who came to Venezuela didn’t really have the education that real doctors have; we know this because Cuban med school graduates do very poorly on examins in Brazil and Chile, to say nothing of the US. They are able to work as nurses in these countries.

          • I think it’s really wrong and hateful to blame the Barrio Adentro mess on the Cuban health workers who get sent out. They’re much more victims than perpetrators in this whole scheme. In many ways, they’re victims of human trafficking.

            It’s impossible to know exactly, since the oil-supply deals with Havana are just so opaque, but by my estimate the effective tax rate they pay to the Cuban regime (i.e., the portion of what the Venezuelan government pays for their services that goes to the Cuban treasury rather than into their pockets) is North of 90%.

            These guys are being exploited with a ruthlessness most people can barely begin to grasp. And on top of that, they get demonized by the “pro-democracy” Venezuelans that should be championing their freedom.

          • Ouch!!!!. Not to mentioned that if for whatever reason you signed the presidential referendum, you are not eligible for the social programs even if you are poor. Now there is a “creation” they should claim in all it’s merit as a first in our modern history.

          • I’m sorry to disappoint you Yoyo, but Chavez himself recognized the health crisis back in 2009 when more than 2000 Barrio Adentro modules were abandoned ( More recently we’ve had the news about the high number of Cubans deserting from Venezuela. And, as a direct witness, I can tell you that the 2 Barrio Adentro I pass by almost every day are always closed.

            The CDI, on the other hand, do open and seem to work. But that’s basically the same healthcare level than the ruined Insalud ambulatories. What’s the point of having a few CDI working and a bunch of similar ambulatories technically closed? What’s the point of having a CDI or Barrio Adentro if you can’t treat Cancer, HIV, or have a simple blood test done because of lack of reactives, even on private labs?

          • The point is propaganda. By rebranding and relaunching previous initiatives they can lie and say they are new and they created them. The only new thing they created was the Barrio Adentro concept, which in implementing at the same time they neglected the hospitals the true backbone of public healthcare in Venezuela.

            Now in education they didn’t create anything new and mainly degraded what previously existed by politicizing the history books and eliminating the vaso de leche diario.

            I’m surprised “Maduro” didn’t mentioned that they nationalized the oil industry too.

            Anyway who wrote that piece???

          • To be fair the idea of bringing health care and primary education closer to barrio inhabitants cannot be criticized , it is a good idea in its conception , where it fails is in its implementation , in the inefficiency and waste, in the mismanagement and corruption and inordinate cost of its implementation , in the poor miserable quality of the ‘benefits’ it purported to render barrio inhabitants , in making it more a propaganda piece than an effective tool for improving peoples life on a lasting basis. We cannot fault the concept but we must fault the farcical way its been touted to be the first ever effort to better the life conditions of the poor in the educational and health care areas.

            From people who worked as medics in the barrios Ive heard many many stories of the horrors and mistakes perpetrated by the so called Cuban physicians and barrio adentro , Also stories from people who teach at Bolivarian institutes of higher learning about the awful quality of the education given there , and from true professionales of how graduates from those universitities have no proper right to hold the professional titles they are given ,

            And then there is the fact that while so much propaganda is lavished on those failed revolutionary institutions little or nothing is done to maintain or fund the activities of existing hospitals or educational institutions which have been practically abandoned by the govt despite the good that they do for the Venezuelan people . . .

    • Flagship? Rubbish. It was a repetition of what the government did before international oil prices went to the cellar and those missions have been the most inefficient in all of Spanish America. The same goes for healthcare.
      The reduction in illiteracy rate from 1999 onwards can even be explained by demographics alone: elderly dying out.
      El régimen es una gran farsa, Yoyo.

      • Not flagship for you or anyone else reading this blog, I’ll admit. But definitely flagship when you have doctors in your barrio for the first time in history.

        • These doctors (paramedics, should say) defected years ago. They are leaving by the hundreds.

          And i know them, one of them saved my life with an appendectomy for what i’ll be forever grateful. The guys simply come here to devise an escape plan which doesn’t involve fighting sharks or dying a mile short of Florida.

        • Please check the ’70, ’80s, and ’90s programs for medical residents of the School of Medicine and Dentistry of the UCV which required Venezuelan medical residents to go into popular areas to work in the so-called “ambulatorios” as part of their academic programs. These programs we’re hindered by the rampant violence and crime in those areas and dwindled through time, but they existed. Chavez could have chosen to support and strengthen those programs; instead he chose to bring ill-trained foreigners at a premium and created a whole academic parallel system of questionable quality and reputation.

    • No. José Toro is right, it didn’t “create” them; it just EXTENDED existing programs in a particularly bad, expensive, and highly inefficient. Mission Barrrio Adentro, for example, is only a preventive health program that charges to the Venezuelan budget ~12-15 times the cost of a local qualified 7-year resident in medicine, in exchange for a technician with a degree in “communal medicine” with or without experience. It is just a travesty to finance the decadent Cuban dictatorship and get a lot of money in a few pockets.

  2. Outside of Venezuela, background information about its history is abysmal. The regime invents a false past in which “the oligarchy” ruled Venezuela as merciless dictators who cared nothing for anyone but themselves.

    The consequence is that they cannot admit that Venezuela had decent social programmes and progressive education during the 4th Republic, if not before.

    These lies result from the need to create a false baseline from which to measure “their” achievements, and to garner sympathy among low-information outsiders.

  3. Nice you threw in about labour organizing rights in that piece. Sheesh. Venezuela’s record on labour rights is appalling!

  4. Great piece. It’s not only the blatant lies that they tell without a care in the world, it’s also that those lies want to reconstruct the country’s history altogether, to the point where they will say God Bolívar>Hell>Chávez’s Heaven. But wait, there is more! Not only did they not create it, because as far as improvements go, they didn’t do much either. I really don’t know about how the hospitals were before Chávez, but I can certainly tell they are in horrible conditions; and trust me, I go to Enrique Tejera Hospital 3 days a week. Everything is dirty, infrastructure is old, there is a certain lack of maintenance, patients have to be in rooms where there is an unforgivable heat, with “beds” that seem to be centuries old, people sporting pro-government clothes everywhere; and let’s not forget the lack medical materials. Everything is so crappy it could piss anyone off.

  5. PLEASEEEEEEEEE do not feed the troll. We want to have counterparts with whom to debate and use arguments with. yoyo is just trolling you and using your natural tendencies to be argumentative to his advantage.

    The whole NYT piece is pathetic. Period.

    Venezuela had though the 50’s , 60’s and 70’s close to the best development indicators in the world. Net immigration and net growth, social advance and world class programs. It got derailed, yes! it corrupted us and made us target for demagogues and populists! but please, do not waste time with yoyo.

    Cuban doctors are overpriced and under-deliver (as doctors).
    These days you may see them in fatigues or on top of brand new Chinese motorcycles showing off their real skill set. Not in barrio adentro…

  6. Sorry to dissapoint you, but we see Prieto Figueroa “estado docente” in aplication right now, as more a more state got control on education (yep, start with a little control on academic visions, a little on uniformity, a little on content and you will create a burocratic-ideologically driven monster). The same this is applicable on Healtcare, showing us that all left governments (social democracy and socialism+comunism+troskysm+plus another visions that made chavismo) believes in the idea that government supervision and control improves the quality of Healtcare or Education.

  7. OT: Heard a rumor that a new law is being discussed to force all foreigners to sell their property and leave Venezuela. Wouldn’t shock me… Anyone heard anything about this?

  8. The most ironic thing about Mamaburro posting an op-ed in an US newspaper is that an US president couldn’t do the same in El-Nacional, without having the government shut it down the next day.

  9. Francisco Toro piece, mostly fair, still has misleading bits. Yes it is aimed at an international audience with less knowledge of Vzla, but to waste so much words in a international news/ opinion outlet going back to Guzman Blanco…..well this is too much of….Forgive me for mot resisting the temptation….too Amos del Valle nostalgia…. Most to the core here: to say the health and education systems were overstreched and underperforming in Punto Fijo times is….sounds….just a rosy way to picture that. Two truths here: first, it was just a appaling, very bad, humillating, etc etc Second, we ( 99% contributors/ participant to this blog) never put our feet in a public hospital and most likely went to a private university ( myself, Yes to the 1st, but went to the USB when it was top class – a rare Punto Fijo feast). I know and have heard from people that DID depend on public services. And when you talk to them in Chavismo times they simply say …it was so so so bad that even with the current flaws they feel look after much better now than in the past. I am not in a position to question that feeling. I was not depending on public services and I am not now, so I cannot tell. Until we undertand much better that feeling, connect to that and be able to a) emphatise with them, b) show them that much more could have been / can be done with oil wealth to improve their lives and c) be credible to them ..then we will be able to unroot much of the basis that keep chavismo alive.

    • Opinador:

      Until we undertand much better that feeling, connect to that and be able to a) emphatise with them, b) show them that much more could have been / can be done with oil wealth to improve their lives and c) be credible to them ..then we will be able to unroot much of the basis that keep chavismo alive.

      your comments have the ring of truthiness to them. I’m afraid that, like chavistas respond to propaganda like trained Pavlovian dogs, the opposition relies too heavily on counter-propaganda and knee-jerk reactions, before critically thinking things through, if that skill were to exist in large measure.

      Having lived outside of Venezuela for years, in spite of my periodic visits and extended family in a few income ranges, I can’t really talk about the different health services — then and now. But I can talk about the differences in VZ consular relations. Under chavismo, or Roy Chaderton, there has been a marked improvement over the lackadaisical work ethic of yesteryear, in a few consulates. Things are not perfect. But they are better organized/managed, today.

    • I would like to reply based on my interpretation of Maduro’s (rather Eva Gollinger’s) contribution to the NYT, José Toro’ nice written piece, and your comments above. First, Toro’s reference to Guzmán Blanco is not nostalgic, it is argumentative to show that what is claim as an original achievement of “The Revolution” is not such, not even premiere for the country. Second, your reference to the shortcomings of the IV Republic in its last decades, which are true, is cherry picking. By focusing only in the ’80s and ’90s you ignore the outstanding achievements of the previous 2 decades. For example, just review history and you will find out that the very first surgery with laser for cancer performed in Latin America was in the Perez Carreño in the early ’70s by Venezuelan doctors. Compare that to what The Revolution offers today. Lastly, poor people tend to be conformists, even if you offer them menial things they will be happy. I know because I come from a “barrio” (Calle El Martillo, Guarataro, Parroquia San Juan) which is irrelevant. The important point is that Chávez also knew it.

  10. The sad thuth, even worse the trap that could have us in this very poor state for a long time, is the lack of balanced, faithful to facts, constructive discussion. We urgently need to neutralise radicals from both side and let reasonable people to raise to positions of influence. Otherwise escalation to the worse is what will happen.

  11. No cherry picking Carlos, it was the 80s and 90s that create the 2/3 of voters that brought Chavez to power. I agree the late 50s-60s-70s achieved great things but Punto Fijo elite resred in those laurels…or worst…were too busy ‘raspando la olla” petrolera. By the way, history ( most sadly!) repeats…the social gains Chavez made in the 2000-2008 years rapidly erased by a, again, boli-elite busy with themselves.

    • Perhaps you are right in their motivations but not in the argument. My opinion was not aim at justifying the shortcomings of the IV, but to highlight that what it is being presented as “logros” of The Revolution are not such (including the so-called social gains your referred to in the 2000’s, which are questionable), but at least I see convergence in your last paragraphs. We both want a better and more just country, I can see that and it is important. But it is also important to recognize that Venezuela has not always being a place of rampant corruption, inefficiency, nor a place where part of the country turned it’s back on the rest, as the Chavista propaganda stubbornly tries to portray all the time.

  12. Quico, thank you so much for finally debunking the lie that free healthcare and education started with Chavez. You have no idea how many times I’ve had to hear this from well meaning lefty friends and while I always tried to counter it, I didn’t have the facts to sound convincing. My fault for not doing my homework, but now I have the facts and a link to give out next time I hear the same lie.

  13. “Quico and co-authors created flagship blogs on Venezuelan politics, freely available to anyone with an internet connection”
    Can someone tell me what part of this phrase is incorrect?

  14. I guess many here know the challenge ….we need to get the heart and minds of some chunk of the chavismo base. Neither the bunch of graphs, statistics, UNDP figures here, WB numbers there…exquisite econometrics here and there, nice jargon ( pick your favourite ….development, economics, public policy, …) ..none of these things help to achieve that. So, yes let s keep blogging here, why not…but let us be clear to us: it s all preaching to converters.
    Then, going back to the Jacinto Convits of this world, to the Guri, Metro de Ccs , Teatro Teresa C, autopistas and flashy flyovers in Ccs -envy of our neighbours in Latin Ame, to the time the Ministry of Energy and Mines was a good and efficient regulator, Becas Ayacucho (although waste there was…but this another debate) …etc etc WON T make the trick either. These means nothing to that chunk. The real big mountain to climb is to break that emotional bond that keeps this chunk prefering Maduro/chavismo hoy even with their acute and evident flaws or fearing the lost of chavista patrons ( mas vale malo conocido q ….). All we do now should be with goal in mind. Anything impairing that (eg guarimbas, intolerance ) should be minimised/discarded!

    • You are going to get more results actually giving out flyers on barrios than just complaining about guarimbas.

      Because it appears to me that a lot of the “opposition critics” are, you know, not actually doing much except complain.

  15. A todas estas, which “flagship” universal educational programs did chavismo create? I can, perhaps, understand them saying that Barrio Adentro is a “flagship universal health program”, but in education? Neither Misión Robinson nor Misión Ribas are “universal,” and they hardly qualify as “educational.”

  16. Bottom line is those programs are not more than a façade for an elaborated system of extortion and corruption for political gain and ensuring political continuity. As reality already shows, these programs are not to educate people, eradicate poverty, or to mitigate social and economic inequality. Ask people in the barrios, they will tell you better. The challenge is to help these people in the barrios understand that a change of regime does not mean or imply “a jump back into the past”.

  17. Exactly Carlos, some of them fears that, some of them apply the Mas vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer, some are plain ignorant of the past , the options,,, It is not enough to tell them We will keep the misiones….the selling point should be more refined, we are going to do this and that, the old chavista mision is collapsing because this and that. Not easy. We are dealing with , in many case, an emotional part that needs to connect in that level…..C’mon, chavista media savvy-ness outperformed by large opposition messages for many years….you all remember the “viejita” enrolled in the Mission Robinson (literacy mission, not sure the name= with the broken voice saying how grateful of the Comandante she was…(myself, my eyes were wet …seeing this publicity bit). I am not seeing (admittedly, from afar) that LL+MCM et al are generating those emotions in that audience). In short, Guzman Blanco remembrance won’t get us there, I am afraid.

    (BTW, if we need to use something more familiar , something closer to our times, to highlight a good PuntoFijo education policy , I would chose Fundayacucho. Many hardcore Chavistas profited from that scholarship program , and I am sure even poor Chavcistas in barrios might have a family member -close or far – that did. That was a truly “affirmative action” type of program , that delivered lot of social mobility. Even if it was plagued with flaws, it delivered good results.

    • If I can summarize the thought process, I’d say this: the Oppo should consider creating, at an appropriate time beyond the current entropy, a few storyboards to peel back the layers of brainwashing. Given the target market, the videos should have an emotional component (Insert music), as well as an historical one — including the chavista years — before projecting a platform for the future that rings true, that makes sense, and above all, is free of political indoctrination. There’d be one on Education, another on Health Care, etc. In the one on Education, the storyboard would highlight ‘logros’, starting with a quick flashback to Guzman Blanco’s “free education” decree, the Fundayacucho program, and other logros, including those of the chavista years — the real ones, not the phoney ones, like the cosmetic paint jobs to the front of schools, prior to government tours for visiting journalists from abroad.

      Just some thoughts…

  18. Back when the Escuelas Bolivarianas thing was in full swing, in the early 2000s, I walked one day by my old kindergarden/first grade public school (I went there in the mid 1970s) and yes, sure enough, its name was changed to “Escuela Bolivariana …”.

  19. Wrong tack for me FT. The Chavistas can rightly claim to have ‘created’ lots of things. Whether these have delivered useful improvements is something quite different though…

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