Friday, October 21, 2011
Venezuelan doctor who suggested poor prognosis for Chávez is forced to flee
I posted about Hugo Chávez' poor medical prognosis four days ago (Oct. 17). You can read it here: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/hugo-chavez-given-dire-prognosis-by.html. Since that time Chávez has returned home, and yesterday he spoke in glowing terms about his health, saying that Cuban doctors have determined that there isn't a trace of diseased cells left in his body.
But what surprised me, as it probably did many of you, was the fact that even a prominent Venezuelan surgeon would have the guts to stick his neck out by offering such a dire assessment of Chávez' medical condition. Moreover, he did it in the most public of ways, by granting an interview to a widely read Mexican magazine.
Today brings news from Caracas that the surgeon, Salvador Navarrete, has been forced to flee the country. In an open letter published in the electronic edition of an anti-Chavez newspaper (one of the few), Navarrete said that he and his entire family had been "required to leave the country abruptly, although we didn't want to do so and certainly hadn't planned to do so." He refused to reveal where he is today.
Navarrete revealed that earlier in the week, shortly after the article was published, he was paid a visit by Venezuelan Intelligence Service agents. The doctor did not disclose details, but it appears that the agents had something more in mind than offering him free tickets to an upcoming baseball game.
Although emphasizing that any medical prognosis is presumptive, Navarrete stuck by his original interview remarks, saying they were based upon information furnished directly to him by members of Chávez' immediate family. Navarrete has not been involved in Chávez' cancer treatment, all of which was carried out by Cuban doctors in Havana, but he claims to have been part of the Venezuelan president's medical team in the past.
In his letter to the newspaper Navarrete said, "I'm not a traitor to my county, but my country is not one and the same with its president (Chávez); the country includes everybody -- our children, our families, our friends and our enemies."
In a nation openly toying with police state tactics -- which is exactly where Venezuela has arrived under Hugo Chávez -- ordinary people like Dr. Salvador Navarrete can forfeit all of their material possessions in the twinkling of an eye. But he could have lost a lot more.
Update 5:00 p.m.: Further details have emerged on the story this afternoon. It appears that Navarrete's clinic on the outskirts of Caracas was searched by security forces, and that computers and patient files were scoured. The clinic was shut down, and at least two other physicians who practiced with him have had their licenses temporarily suspended.
at 1:50 PM