Venezuela’s Chavez Enacts “Intervention” on Public Hospital in Opposition Stronghold

On Wednesday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed the formal “intervention” of one of the largest public hospitals in the opposition-governed state of Tachira.

By Juan Reardon - Venezuelanalysis.com

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The San Cristobal General Hospital, located in the state of Tachira (YVKE Mundial).
The San Cristobal General Hospital, located in the state of Tachira (YVKE Mundial).
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Merida, September 8th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Wednesday Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed the formal “intervention” of one of the largest public hospitals in the opposition-governed state of Tachira, explaining that resources made available by the national government to maintain the San Cristobal General Hospital had “disappeared” and blamed what he called “neoliberal” governorships for failing to attend to public needs, including hospitals, schools, and other social services.

The “intervention” places the hospital under the direct control of the Venezuelan Ministry of Health in Caracas.

According to Chavez, the San Cristobal General Hospital, also known as the Jose Maria Vargas Hospital, “is a disaster left by the regional government.”

“We send them the resources and the resources never appear. This is something the people must hear and see – the way in which local neoliberal governments abandon the hospitals, athletic fields, and the schools that they must attend to” he said.

“So, it is us who must take on the responsibility,” Chavez concluded.

The decision to intervene in the hospital comes a week after Venezuelan Minister of Health Eugenia Sader conducted a site visit during which hospital staff complained of working conditions and asked her to propose an “intervention” to the national government.

As reported by Venezuelan daily Correo del Orinoco, Sader’s visit was intended solely to evaluate progress made on remodeling and the installment of surgical material and equipment provided to the hospital. After the visit, Sader told the press that a full investigation was underway to better understand “what is going on” and affirmed that the hospital “should have all of the medical equipment and inputs needed to provide free medical care to the population.”

Earlier this week hospital staff protested inadequate working conditions at the hospital as well as the failure on the part of hospital administrators to increase their pay as stipulated by recent laws passed at the national level.

In July of this year, Chavez decreed a 30% wage increase for doctors working in the public health sector. Nurses and other hospital staff were also guaranteed wage increases which they say have not been met at the San Cristobal General Hospital.

Tachira state governor Cesar Perez Vivas, presidential hopeful of the opposition’s Christian Democrat Party (COPEI), called the intervention “a demagogic measure,” accusing the Venezuelan president of “violating the Constitution and the authority of regional governments.”

Vivas said he “challenged” Chavez to compare the quality of the San Cristobal Hospital “with the hospitals in Caracas” and said the national government was “walking over the people of Tachira” by forcing the intervention on the hospital.