Socialism of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela
It's hard for middle-class professionals who care about the poor in Venezuela, to leave the country. Two young professionals go to centers to see the socialism in action.
Socialism of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela
Host: Back at the children’s hospital. For an oil-rich country, the public
hospitals here can seem very run-down. Yurani is doing her rounds
she loves working here, but worries that some patients suffer
Yurani: I feel sometimes that people who shouldn’t die dies. People who
could be rescued, they are not. And I can’t do that anything for
that, I feel that I can’t do anything because I don’t have the
medicine, I don’t have resources.
Host: But today Yurani has good news for one of her patients, seven
month-old Lina here with his mom, Lina. Lina is well enough to go
home picking Lina baby up her mom Betty. Betty fled the troubles
in neighboring Colombia. She’s now a Venezuelan citizen, thanks
to a Chavez reform. Stories like hers, a strong argument for doctors
to stay. Betty lives in a squat in Caracas with her six children, her
grandchildren, her husband, her sister and her nephew. She’s learnt
to read, thanks to a Chavez government scheme, and her family
now has more free healthcare. She has high praise for doctors like
Yurani, and the service they provide.
Betty Roblez: My grandson was in the children’s hospital for 13 days and he
received good attention, like the tests which were done and his
food. The doctors were taking good care of him and doing the
follow up, interacting with the relatives to know how the baby was
doing. He got his treatment without interruption. In my opinion it
has improved 100% because now there are things that we didn’t
Host: Betty’s daughter says it’s Hugo Chavez who has helped improve
their lives so much.
Linola Fontalvo: I don’t see him as a bad president but a good one. Nothing is
perfect, but I wouldn’t say that everything is falling apart either.
He has done many good things for us, for all Venezuelans.
Host: Betty and Lina aren’t alone in supporting Chavez it's rare you hear
a word spoken against him here in the barrios. The rich, with their
dollar accounts and Miami villas, find it easy to leave. For middle
class professionals who care about the poor it’s a tougher dilemma.
So could Yurani and Florencio be convinced? We brought them
along to see socialism in action. Supporters say places like this
community centre in Caracas’s biggest slum bring much needed
services to the poorest. Yurani and Florencio get a full guided tour
and some hard-sell on how Chavez is making life better for the
people. Built on a derelict site, the centre houses a modern health
clinic, workers’ co-operatives, adult education classes and a
subsidized supermarket. It's all funded directly by a Petroleum
Ministry rich on high oil prices. The director, a former teacher, is a
Omar Orsini: Until not long ago all that oil money was used to benefit the rich,
they enjoyed all the resources and the majority could only see the
leftovers or small bits of that wealth. What we want is to have a
society where everyone improves.
Host: Alongside the free services and training, there are classes on
socialism. And there are Cuban revolutionaries here too. The nurse
leading the morning exercises for the elderly, for example, and this
doctor, one of over 3,000 in the country. And these textile workers,
according to the government, are ‘combat troops’ in the ‘battle
Omar: Sometimes we use some expressions more linked to the military
field than to the political field. However, that is not surprising
because we believe that politics and the military share the same
ground but that politics is just another means to achieve our goals.
That is part of the war that we have.
Host: Our two doctors are impressed with the Centre. But there are
Yurani: Good they have nice clinics they have resources very clean, very
pretty. Why, I don’t understand, the government can do this with
these new clinics and they can’t do the same with the hospitals,
with the old ones where I work, where Florencio works.
Host: For Florencio, the worry is that centers like these are as much
about indoctrination as education.
Florencio: For example, when I was talking to them, then one fellow started
to argue with Yurani, and he said, well, because we have white and
you have black those are the only two conditions you are against
the revolution or you are for the revolutionary persons. And I don’t
think that’s quite real. Life is made of grey tones.
Host: It’s not all regurgitated Castro here. Chavez supporters say they’re
trying to find a ‘third way’, a distinctly Venezuelan response to
globalization their model not so much Castro as Simon Bolivar, the
man who liberated much of Latin America from Spanish rule. His
former house is one of Venezuela’s big tourist attractions with
around 400,000 visitors a year. According to curator Bertha
Vasquez, Bolivar is as much a part of the present as the past.
Bertha Vasquez: Bolivar creates a link with our past heroes’ ideas. He has brought
us back to our Venezuelan roots, helping us understand that before
Bolivar there were nationalists and independence ideas.
Host: Bolivar’s image has escaped onto the streets, where it’s almost as
prevalent as that of Chavez. The government cites him often as
inspiration for its policies.
Andres Izarra: The ideals for which Bolivar fought are pretty much well alive.
We’re still fighting for social justice, we’re still fighting to be
equal, we’re still fighting to be independent, and we’re still
fighting to have sovereignty over our own natural resources. And
the same with the struggle to be able to come to a united Latin
America, United South America, that can stand itself up in front of
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