The death panels are real. And they’re spectacular.
A 65-year-old patient with heart failure entered his clinic — and urgently needed oxygen, he said. The tanks sat in another room at the ready, he recalled.
But he said his Cuban and Venezuelan superiors told him to use the oxygen as a political weapon instead: Not for medical emergencies that day, but to be doled out closer to the election, part of a national strategy to compel patients to vote for the government.
In interviews, 16 members of Cuba’s medical missions to Venezuela — a signature element of relations between the two countries — described a system of deliberate political manipulation in which their services were wielded to secure votes for the governing Socialist Party, often through coercion.
Many tactics were used, they said, from simple reminders to vote for the government to denying treatment for opposition supporters with life-threatening ailments.
The Cuban doctors said they were ordered to go door-to-door in impoverished neighborhoods, offering medicine and warning residents that they would be cut off from medical services if they did not vote for Mr. Maduro or his candidates.
Four of the Cuban medical workers said the government established “electoral command centers” inside or next to clinics, with Socialist Party operatives dispatching doctors to pressure residents.
One added that, on the day Mr. Maduro was elected to his first term, she witnessed officials opening ballot boxes and tampering with votes, including destroying ballots that chose the opposition. Another said she and others were asked to vote with false identification.
Doling out the little medicine that remained, the doctors now focused their vote-getting efforts on patients with chronic illnesses, who needed repeated attention, Dr. Arias said.
“The theme was chronic illnesses, the ones where you would die if patients didn’t get medicine, and that’s how they controlled people,” Dr. Arias recalled.
Before an election for governors that year, Mr. Arias recalled an epileptic patient in the hospital who needed treatment but had refused the homeland card.
“‘I don’t want anything to do with this homeland! I don’t want anything to do with Maduro!’” he recalled her shouting. She was sent away without medication, he said, “because she was from the opposition.”
There’s plenty more. All of it vile. And all of it inevitable in a welfare state going bankrupt whose government is wildly unpopular. That’s how socialism always ends up.
Medicare-for-All is really Medicaid-for-Party-Members.
The story comes from the New York Times. That almost makes up for the time that the New York Times urged other countries not to accept Cuban doctors who defect. Seemingly having forgotten that, the Times now runs a good piece about Cuban doctors so disgusted with their slavery that they are defecting.