article from June 30, 2011
By Jamie Douglas
Once again, a well-known politician is refusing to acknowledge his true medical condition, fearing that showing vulnerability to common ailments will tarnish the carefully nurtured image of invincibility. This time it is the usually robust and verbose President of Venezuela. During his recent tour of several Latin American nations, Hugo Chávez suddenly needed an emergency operation while in Cuba to take care of a “pelvic abscess,” a relatively rare occurrence, but one that obviously manifested itself with such speed that it was thought best for him to have immediate surgical intervention in Havana, which no doubt has some of the finest medical facilities in the hemisphere.
That, in spite of his being no more than three hours from an operating room in Caracas, with equally fine medical care. Ever since the usually hyperactive 56-year-old Venezuelan leader was hospitalized in Havana on June 10, the rumors have been flying about all the possibilities of his real condition – rumors ranging from cancer of the prostate to complications from previous cancer surgery. And rumors are exactly what they are, mixed in with some very wishful thinking by his opposition.
A pelvic abscess, of course, is a serious condition, as it involves a deep infection that, if undiagnosed and untreated, could continue to fester, wreaking inner havoc while outwardly just displaying some symptoms of discomfort. Treatment usually involves making an incision in the affected area and draining the abscess, while maintaining the surrounding area sterile to avoid onset of sepsis, which may be fatal.
So, knowing what we do about this condition, it may very well be what ails President Chávez, forcing him to recuperate slowly while he is visiting with his good friend Fidel Castro, who also suffered an undignified illness of the lower intestine, but one with much more serious consequences and a much lengthier recovery time. He was afflicted by diverticulitis, and emergency surgery is normally required when the affected area bursts, again leading to sepsis. Recovery periods may last for months, particularly in elderly patients such as former President Castro.
There is no doubt about the seriousness of President Chávez’s condition, as we are only a few days from when he is to host a regional summit of political leaders, as well as the bicentennial celebration of his country’s independence. Should he fail to make a showing for these events, he must be very seriously incapacitated, presenting a situation that may lead to an internal power struggle within the Bolivarian nation. Already, bond traders are exploiting the possibility of regime change to, hopefully, a more business-friendly (read pro-US) administration.
Meanwhile, his brother Adán Chávez, a reserved former physics professor, made some rather puzzling statements during a prayer meeting in Barinas, where he addressed an audience of several hundred supporters, stating that “both arms and the ballot box may be used in support of the Bolivarian revolution.” Invoking the legendary Argentinean-Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Ché” Guevarra, he repeated the famous Hero/Mass Murderer quote: “It would be inexcusable to limit ourselves to only the electoral [process] and not see other forms of the struggle, including the armed struggle!”
I, for one, feel that enough blood has been shed on this beleaguered continent, and sincerely hope that armed conflicts can be avoided. It is for this reason that I wish President Hugo Chávez a speedy recovery – from whatever it is that he needs recovery from – and a speedy return to his homeland, where events will hopefully unfold in as orderly a fashion as is possible in this part of the world.
San Rafael, Mendoza
Where the Malbec Wine is always Fine!
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