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Perspectives on Chavez and his Cancer Treatment

Perspectives on Chavez and his Cancer Treatment

This month the world was shocked to learn of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ admission of being ill with cancer and his flight to Cuba to undergo an operation to remove a tumour. The weight of Mr. Chavez being ill has a great effect on Venezuela and all of Latin America because he is the voice of left wing populist leaders in the region and has the clout and funds to expand his ideology across the region. Over the last 12 years of his Presidency, Hugo Chavez has fought to remain in power and has increasingly pushed for the Presidential branch to have more power in Venezuela’s Constitution. Critics of Mr. Chavez say this increased power is placing Chavez in the position of being a permanent leader with absolute authority over the country’s resources and power. With an illness or death of Hugo Chavez comes a great shift in the direction of Venezuela and the continent as a whole.

Beyond the debate between leftists and opposition leaders in Venezuela regarding the effects of an ill Chavez, for anyone to have such a horrible affliction such as cancer should be regarded with some sympathy and respect for the difficulties the victim will have with the illness. In reality, research and treatments to help cancer sufferers, even if done in Cuba, helps the international medical community to treat patients in all countries as research and funding in Cuba does not solely remain in Cuba or Venezuela. Cuban research, like all research in the international medical community often contributes to research in Europe, the US and abroad to help all cancer patients internationally. Chavez response to his illness and his view of this illness as being one of the great challenges to his personal life may have a positive effect for cancer treatment in Venezuela and for others living within Latin America.

A few years ago Venezuela offered free eye treatment for many living in Latin America who could not afford the treatments. Treatments of eye illnesses has a great effect on the lives of those in the region as the loss of sight for poorer individuals is a massive burden for those who often have no support to begin with and suffer greatly from the effects of poverty. New technologies in eye care can provide quick and clean surgeries and can change the lives of many. It is possible that Chavez will focus a great deal of funding for cancer treatment as well, but it could be that the treatment could cost a lot more than the eye care program and health initiatives by Mr. Chavez. A broad treatment initiative without comparative budgeting often does not accord with the affordability of balanced medical system for those in Venezuela and outside of the country. Despite this, there is a good chance that cancer treatment and research will get a boost in Venezuela, signed off by the President himself. Whatever the outcome of Hugo Chavez’ Presidency and continuing Revolution, cancer and how it will be treated will become a part of the historic narrative of this time in Latin American history.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration