It’s always difficult to face death alone. As the saying goes, we’re born alone and go out the same way. Normally a man’s family suffers along with him if he’s battling cancer. However, as important as a caring family can be to the cancer patient, a monumental ego requires more co-sufferers. It may even require a whole country.
Since being diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has provided his citizens with official updates about his battle. They were told the tumor removed from his pelvis in June 2011 was no big deal. Well, actually it was baseball-sized so while not a biggie for Hugo, it certainly qualifies as something the average Venezuelan wouldn’t want to cart around. Nevertheless, Venezuelans were told that no mere cancer would fell a man of Hugo’s extraordinary strength and determination. (Bet they could sleep at night then.)
Chavez, who has just returned to Cuba for his seventh round of cancer treatment, doesn’t want to face the inevitable alone. So, despite increasingly appearing to be a dead bully walking, he ran for his third term in October and beat his opponent Henrique Capriles by 900,000 votes. That makes him the longest-serving Latin American leader with 14 years at the helm. Bueno. Hope Venezuela is real happy that “Hugs” is still able to conduct state business while downing his meds and undergoing tests. Well, it is the Castro model if reports of Fidel’s declining health are accurate–but even he has handed over much of the burden to his brother Raul.
Now this week we find that Hugo’s back in Castro-land for treatment. (Michael Moore and Sean Penn must be proud. Not the Mayo Clinic…Cuba.) This time it’s for immersion in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber which has proven useful for burns but has not been documented as helpful for cancer. Oh well, it can’t hurt to breathe some fresh air after an election which included broken voting machines, lines of voters waiting for hours, and threats of violence should Hugo have to take it in the shorts and admit he lost.
Chavez could have stayed home for this as Venezuela also has hyperbaric therapy available, so it’s not clear if something else is up with El Presidente’s health. We don’t want to accuse him of grandstanding. Possibly there is other care in Cuba that he needs and those Havana cigars ain’t bad either.
Of course, there are always skeptics. The Chicago Tribune quotes one on-the-scene medical sage on Chavez’s condition:
“That man doesn’t have anything. He was never sick,” said motorbike taxi driver Omar Rivas, 55, surmising that the health saga was a ploy by the president to win public sympathy.
In the meantime, good luck Venezuela with your burgeoning street crime, government vote-buying, and lack of power to light your streets. We know it’s hard to sleep, but an update on dear Hugo’s health is probably coming on your state-controlled TV very soon.Follow @stephshar