Air-conditioned rooms with satellite TVs, private bathrooms and a well organized, computer-based record keeping system, all carefully guarded by a small group of nurses in olive-green uniforms. A doctor with military badges on her coat stands beneath countless portraits of Chávez and Maduro on the walls.

That’s Mérida’s Hospital Military Ward, a sharp contrast with the overcrowded rooms across the rest of the building, where five patients must share a single bathroom with the sole distraction of Maduro’s voice on state TV.

Military Hospitals and Military Wards are health centers independent from the Health Ministry, managed by the Defense Minister through its General Direction of Health. Contrary to what you’d expect, these institutions aren’t meant for war-injured soldiers; they have pediatrics, internal medicine and obstetric services, to help officers and their families. They date back to 1931, but their role during the Revolution has changed.

Last Friday, while speaking on national TV, Nicolás Maduro inaugurated the new Military Academy of Medicine building, one of the seven academies of the Military Bolivarian University of Venezuela, meant to train doctors for the Armed Forces. Although the Academy officially exists since August 2014, it functioned in the upper floors of the Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital, in Caracas. Students will now go to the new building in Fuerte Tiuna.

In his speech, Maduro assured that Venezuela will finally have “medics with ethics and human values”, because those of us taught by Universidad de los Andes since 1805, or by Universidad Central de Venezuela since 1827, are a bunch of unethical monsters.

Could this be a last shot to guarantee soldiers a better healthcare than that of everyone else?

The institution offers its almost 500 students housing, food, clothing, transport and even laundry, a tempting offer in times of sky-high inflation, and pretty much all the services autonomous universities have been forced to halt in different degrees, after their budgets got crippled, increasing the dropout rates around the country.

Entry requirements for the Military Academy aren’t that different to those in Venezuelan universities (some conditions, like a minimum height, are mandatory). The Academy also requires its students to “renounce any political militancy, to comply with the norms stated by the Constitution to be part of the Armed Forces”; a funny thing to ask of a university whose motto is “Chávez vive, la patria sigue.

But the really interesting part of Maduro’s speech was when he mentioned the thousands of Integral Community Medics (MICs, for its Spanish acronym) graduating every year from government-aligned universities. The President hopes that the Military Academy provides more, although cadets of the Military Academy have an entirely different pensum from that of MIC’s (consistently deemed as deficient). The Military program is very similar to the one I’ve been studying in ULA, if you ignore subjects like Basics of War and Protracted People’s War. Tellingly, graduated officers (who, according to the Academy itself, are expected to provide health services to military officers and their families) will be recognised as Médicos Cirujanos Militares (Military MDs), not MICs.

It’s like MICs are good enough to treat peasants, but insufficient for the military elite.

With thousands of Venezuelan doctors fleeing the country, and MICs slowly taking their place, could this be a last shot to guarantee soldiers a better healthcare than that of everyone else?

One thing is clear: The crisis is unavoidable and it will reach the military too.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Mao set up a system where the ordinary population had access only to a subparr medical system including semi trained ‘barefoot doctors’…while the elite’s health was attended to by the best trained professionals ( trained outside china or in elite medical schools) with access to the best facilities .The regime apparently is beginning to adopt the Chinese model (depending on the quality of the training which is imparted in the military medical institutions) . We tend to knock off the Venezuelan military , but sometimes they have built really high quality educational systems ….

    Have a relative who was a career academic of high standing in Central University and he tells me that contrary to common notions UNEFA (the army sponsored educational institution) , many years ago had a reputation as one of the best institutions of its kind in the country , the the UCV itself had a hard time meeting the exacting academic standards that characterized that Unefa , and saw it as a model in many aspects !!

    Maybe this initiative represents an improvement over more recent regime practices , maybe at long last they are following the Chinese practice of creating elite meritocratic institutions that actually deliver on their promise. Not likely but hope stirrs eternal !!

  2. meanwhile, the front page of Ultimas Noticias says today “Cero porno en medios impresos”… People losing more and more weight, the highest inflation of the world and this branch of chavismo is worried about porn… surrealism in Venezuela never ends

    • Yes Kenny, Venezuela is real socialism in action. All the promises of utopia have dissolved into the truth of poverty, dictatorship, and human right abuses. All socialist countries have the same results. Ask Bernie Sanders to go live in socialist Venezuela- he will run like hell.

        • A great video, thank you Ronaldo! I remember in the ’70s some dumbass lefty college kids in the USA with their little red books of Mao thought.

          I predict in the near future you will see VZ prohibiting skilled citizens from leaving, just like Cuba and all the others. You want to leave, you will have to shoot your way out.

          • No they will let them go, there are planeloads of Chinese and Middle Eastern Doctors who will be happy to have the chance to live here. No matter how bad it gets here remember that it’s 10 times worse in China. Here everyone enjoys better quality of life. For now… Anyway, they need all the intelligent people to flee. At last no opposition, just dumb uneducated votes, farmers in the fields, grateful for finally having food in their bellys.

        • The numbers of the mass murders are higher, and the numbers lost to incompetence are higher still .. then you add the numbers who were made miserable and poor with inadequate diets and little hope for anything much more than making it through the day, the week,m the month, the year …. Add those who were persuaded to betray their own family members.

          Man does not want to look at evil. It is frightening, it is hard to look at, hard to conceive of, hard to understand, and perhaps it reminds Man of himself, like looking into an abyss, confused, not having answers, not knowing which way is up. How can one practice love and forgiveness for evil? When is it necessary to take arms against it and defeat it, and do the evil man a favor by stopping him?

          When will the world recognize and label Karl Marx as the most horrible, abominable, mass murderer ever to walk the Earth? That is not philosophy by any paint, it is a condemnation of life itself.

  3. “One thing is clear: The crisis is unavoidable and it will reach the military too.”

    I too said something to that effect yesterday in a comment. So my question is when will the military get off the Maduro’s Crazy Train. The loot is getting slim.

  4. a university whose motto is “Chávez vive, la lucha sigue.”

    Wow! I spit out by coffee this morning reading that. Is that a joke?
    I went to their website. I don’t see that motto. I see “Al servicio de la vida”.

  5. I once knew a young GNB recruit, he joined because he was very happy to get a meal everyday and a uniform because he could not even buy shoes and clothing.

    The “son or daughter who joined the military” is often the succes story in the lowest income families in barrios who never have obtained an stable income or gotten respect or benefit for doing anything.

    If they at least can live in the cuartel and not be an expense to the houshold they and their familias are the happiest and most grateful that someone can be.

    You greatly understimate how much deeper into shit this thing can go before they even feel a breeze in regards to a change of standards . I would not count the military living and societal standards as a factor in Venezuela, not ever

  6. “With so much chaos, someone will do something stupid. And when they do, things will turn nasty. And then Sutler will be forced to do the only thing he knows how to do.” — Inspector Finch

    Reading the above story, I am reminded of this scene from V for Vendetta. In the not too distant future, I fear, some people are going to get tired of the misery Chavismo has wrought and will do what people do who have nothing to lose.

    Maybe I have watched too many movies. But I can assure you, that if I had nothing to lose, my family was starving, and my future held no hope, I’d take out as many of the enemy as I could before they got me.

    • ElGuapop – There’s a better way to do right. It requires courage, but your life is not on the line, and you can do it every day. Speak the truth and do not acquiesce to idiots who lie thinking that lying is smart. Study up a bit on logical fallacies, for example, and do not let people argue them at you and get away with it. Explain consequences of socialism. Don’t be bullied by the guy whose argument is false, but who stands up and moves closer to impose himself, or pretends to be hurt. Don’t accept groundless accusations of your friends, trying to persuade you they are not your friends. Always look hard for the truth until you find it, check it out, kick it around, then stand for it. Almagro is a good example of someone who is preempting and attacking lies. Do it every day and people will not only come to respect you, but will come to see what you are talking about. All this and more is much safer than giving ground, giving ground, and then only at the last moment seizing a weapon in a heroic last stand. Socialists have been steadily lying and deceiving for decades, even centuries. Be smarter, and stop them where they stand. No need to be rash, just let them know you are smarter. If it ever comes to it, I would rather die right, than die wrong, but it is better to live right.

      • I consider myself well versed in logical fallacies. We used to play a game during election season when the kids were in high school, called, “Find the bull-shit”. It was easy enough to play, because I swear that politicians think the average voter has an IQ of 80. ANYWAY, my high school age kids blurt out whatever logical fallacy (or their analysis) that gushed forth from the TV or radio. Smart kids. They get that from their mom. (VZ expat)

        An example? There tend to be a lot of commercials here about “(Fill in the blank)% of American kids struggle with hunger.” Of course, that one sentence is full of subjective information…

        Where did these sky high numbers come from? An “advocacy group”, or an objective, impartial source?
        What age group are the “kids”? Everyone under age 18? 21? 26 year olds living in Mom’s basement?
        Define “struggle”? (where to begin with THAT definition?)
        Define “hunger”? Are they starving? No butter on their biscuits? No prime rib this week?
        How often are they hungry? Do they miss meals? Are they never satiated?

        I’m in no hurry to pick up arms. I’m pretty much a live and let live guy. I was being rhetorical, more than anything. But there does come a time when words lose their meaning, and only action is left. I don’t wish anyone any harm, but I think many Venezuelans are being pushed into a corner and it isn’t going to end well. (Just my sideline assessment from the safe confines of the United States)

        • I see … I forgot you’re in the U.S.. Coincidentally, here’s an article – a bit heavy in Latin – https://panampost.com/jose-azel/2017/11/03/how-mainstream-media-creates-dangerous-echo-chambers-with-flawed-arguments/ you might find interesting. Power to your kids, man – logic is powerful.

          My thought was that anyone struggles with hunger … I did, waiting for steaks to be defrosted and cooked enough to eat. Agony. And it happened all the time! I learned to endure eating Ritz crackers I snuck out of the kitchen.

          A dictatorial regime just plays with words to the population, “democratic, elections, talks with the opposition, illegal actions not permitted, the good of the people, ending favoritism for the rich” but with a dictator, it’s money and guns, pushing all that is necessary into a corner.

    • “2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of my favorite movies. I saw it in a drive-in theater just off the autopista from Las Mercedes to Prados with a great friend of mine. She cried during the movie. Could it possibly be that all this worldwide turmoil is only rats squeaking and running from the dawning of an age of truth unlike any?

      • No, it’s simply the result of the discovery of early humans, until then herbivores living peacefully side-by-side with peaceful leaf-munching Danta-type animals, that bashing in a Danta’s head with a stone, then eating its meat, gave them greater strength/development/aggressive tendencies, resulting in subsequent wars/weapons of mass destruction/AI/over-population, and, yes, the bone-in-the-air of space travel, not launched in time to save the planet/humanity from human-caused destruction….

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