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The ‘Miracle’ of Cuba; Chavez Proposed for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves to the crowd during a political rally in Caracas on January 23, 2005. (Victor Johnson / AFP-Getty Images)

It was a normal quiet evening in the Rosales household in the barrio El Canton in Venezuela’s main port of La Guaira on the Caribbean coast. Mr. Gregorio Rosales Mujica was watching the baseball game between the Aragua Tigers visiting the Caracas Lions, which turned out to be one of the most electrifying and tense encounters of the season.

Mr. Rosales could not see the game perfectly due to his vision problems and suddenly, at precisely 10:00 p.m., during the sixth inning, the phone rang.

It was a voice that Mr. Rosales did not recognize and he was informed that the next day he should present himself at Simon Bolivar International airport, just down the road from where he lives, since he was being sent to Colombia.

Rather puzzled, Mr. Rosales hung up the phone and told his daughter, Ingrid, that some one from the government or the Health Ministry has called telling him that he was being sent to Colombia the following day on a Cuban Airlines flight. Bearing in mind that Mr. Rosales was born on the island of Margarita, in the state of Nueva Esparta, 84 years ago, his daughter, Ingrid, realized that her father had somehow mistaken “Colombia” for “Cuba” and that the call was to confirm that Mr. Rosales would go to Cuba the next day for eye surgery in the context of Mission Miracle (Mision Milagros), accompanied by his daughter.

Mission Miracle is one of the many humanitarian projects set up between Caracas and Havana to benefit the historically excluded and downtrodden in Venezuelan society, who could not afford medical treatment in the Venezuelan jungle of corrupt hospitals and the private mercantilist (mercenary?) system. In some cases, the medical treatment required was not available in Venezuela. Mission Miracle concentrates exclusively on restoring lost vision and tackles all type of ocular problems by sending the patients and an accompanying family member to Cuba for the corresponding treatment.

In the case of Mr. Rosales, he had been visited at his home in Calle Soublette, Sector El Canton, La Guaira in December by his local Cuban doctor working in the “Barrio Adentro” (Into the Neighborhood) primary health care program. It was the first time in his 84 years that Mr. Rosales recalled a doctor ever being in his home and it was a result of this visit and examination that the phone rang during the sixth inning of the ball game, at 10:00 p.m. on Jan. 18.

There was great joy in the Rosales family that the response to send their father to Cuba had been so swift, considering that the consultation took place in mid December, and double joy for Mr. Rosales himself as his team, the Aragua Tigers, won the ball game after a “grand slam” by Miguel Cabrera in the 8th inning.

Ingrid Rosales phoned her brother, Ubaldo, to inform him of the good news. Ubaldo works in one of the National Identity Offices (Oni-Dex) in the center of the country. He knew from his own experience that patients due to go to Cuba for medical treatment were issued passports in the context of Mission Identity, as well as one family member, to facilitate a prompt departure to Cuba when the long awaited phone call arrived.

Since Dec. 10, his I.D. office had issued a total of 150 passports to Mission Miracle patients and their family members, as they obviously receive priority over normal tourist or business applications. Thus, Mission Identity works hand in glove with Mission Miracle for the benefit of those most in need.

The fact that Mr. Rosales is 84 years old and has been sent so promptly to Cuba to solve his sight problem and improve his quality of life is just one small example of the non-discriminatory, humanistic quality of the social revolution taking place in Venezuela.

To be blunt, with his 84 years of accumulated youth, Mr. Rosales would have simply been thrown “on the scrapheap” even back in 1998, or at any time before President Chavez was democratically elected in his now legendary nine consecutive landslide electoral and referendum victories.

Ubaldo commented to me that my article on President Chavez being nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize really hit the nail on the head, when analyzing the humanistic missions being spread throughout Venezuela. He also said in an even more telling tone, that it is precisely due to social programs such as Mission Miracle, that the march on Jan. 23 will be an overwhelming success in support of President Chavez and in defense of national sovereignty.

It is an odds on bet, that the whole of the Rosales family will be marching in Caracas next Sunday, as will be thousands upon thousands whose lives have been touched by the Bolivarian Social Revolution.

Chavez Proposed for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize

Last November on Venezuelan National Radio (RNV) I learned that there are moves afoot to propose President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias as a leading candidate for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

For many people throughout the world whose information about Chavez is conditioned by mainstream news media, the immediate reaction to this news could be: “How could a ‘firebrand’ like Chavez ever be considered for such an internationally prestigious award?”

I can already imagine the radical opposition thinking this and cannot believe that such a thing could conceivably happen. The next stage will be gnashing of teeth and frothing at the mouth!

Readers will recall that, two years ago Chavez won the “Man of the Year Award” in an internet vote run by bbcmundo.com against all comers ... including George W. Bush.

The reaction in 2002 by opposition figures was to send thousands of   insulting and threatening e-mails to bbcmundo.com, accusing the BBC of rigging the outcome, and alleging ... without any evidence ... that the Venezuelan government had “paid” for the results.

This was just a non-scientific poll on the internet and not something as prestigious as the Nobel Peace Prize ... so why is Chavez a candidate and likely winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?

Looking at the Nobel Web site I see that the 2004 winner, Wangari Maathai of Kenya, was awarded the prize “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

If these three qualities are key to winning the Nobel Peace Prize then Chavez has all these in abundance and more ... he must be the world’s leading democrat having been to the polls nine times since 1998 ... he promotes peace by asking for troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, so that these sovereign nations can exercise self-determination and define their own path in the future.

Sustainable and endogenous development is one of the corner stones of the Bolivarian revolution — thus alleviating poverty medium to long term.

Other accomplishments which have been pushed by Chavez’ personal leadership in Venezuela are the Social Missions, all grouped under the humanitarian banner of Mission Christ.

The primary ones are:

Mission Robinson — teaching more than 1.3 million people to read and write in the space of 16 months, a world record in this field.

Mission Ribas — secondary education for just over 1 million people so far, who were denied this basic human right during the 4th Republic.

Mission Barrio Adentro (Into the Nieghborhood) — to provide free primary health care for more than 10 million people up to now, and who did not have access to health care in the past — unless they paid for it.

Mission Simoncito — care and education for pregnant mothers and their children from gestation to kindergarten, to ensure a healthy start to life.

Bolivarian Schools — integral schooling including free health care and meals, with the objective of inculcating patriotic, humanitarian values in the upcoming generations.

There may be other accomplishments I have omitted to mention, and am certain that opposition spokesmen will try to shoot down all these accomplishments in the usual manipulative format and with their well-known semantic bile. However, it does not matter what they think ... but what the Nobel Foundation in Oslo considers to be true and of real value to human development and peace.

The reaction of the United States and especially that of Condoleezza Rice will be interesting to observe. Let us hope that the Nobel Foundation with its 105-year history will have the courage and independence of thought to consider President Chavez for this world shattering accolade, without outside interference.

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