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Venezuela Gov Denied “Universal Health Care” to Political Opponents

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.

Read the full story from Front Page Mag

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