Sunday, May 8, 2011

Waking Up

After three years of hibernation, Venezuela notes is waking up!

First, I'd like to announce the publication of my new book, Revolutionary Doctors: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World's Conception of Health Care, which will be available from Monthly Review Press at the end of this month (May 2011).  To accompany the book, a new blog, Revolutionary Doctors ( will be appearing online; I hope it will be useful for expanding the discussion of the accomplishments of Cuba and Venezuela in the field of medicine and other areas.  Their persistent efforts to pursue progressive change in peaceful ways are under constant attack from the North, where the pattern of military/capitalist conquest is still enthusiastically promoted by the so-called centers of Western Civilization.

Those who have never read Venezuela notes before can gain some insights into what has been taking place in the Bolivarian Revolution by reviewing the articles written in 2007-2008.  I've found a few small mistakes to correct as I re-read them, but in general I feel that their depiction of Venezuelan reality is far more reliable than what has been called "news" in the North American and European press over the past decade.

The scarcity of accurate information and the production of disinformation concerning Venezuela in the transnational media is more than matched by its antagonistic coverage of Cuba, which has endured constant media attacks as well as economic and political terrorism for more than half a century.   Perhaps more damaging than the constant negative bias is the utter absence of positive news stories about both countries, especially in regard to their impressive achievements in developing the human potential of their own populations and their extraordinary humanitarian missions to help the people of other nations. One purpose of my book and the blogs is to redress this imbalance, but even more important is to let readers know that some very important experiments, not only in the practice of medicine but in the practice of creating a better world, are taking place.  The progress that Cuba and Venezuela are making holds great promise for most countries in the world, even for the United States.  Although it is a very rich country, the United States is also very underdeveloped in some respects; for example, it still allows for extreme overconsumption of health care by some people while millions of others live year in and year out without adequate medicial attention.   

I'm sure that many young Americans are hoping to pursue careers in medicine in order to help remedy this imbalance, but chances are they don't know they have the opportunity to gain the appropriate education in Cuba - for free!  They can attend the Latin American School of Medicine (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, or ELAM) which has already graduated more than 10,000 students from all over the Americas who are trained in comprehensive family medicine so that they can attend to poor and underserved communities in their own countries.  As I was doing research for Revolutionary Doctors in Havana in March of 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting four young revolutionary doctors-in-training at ELAM who are among the more than one hundred students who come from the United States:

on the right:
Pasha, Malik,
 and Ian

    on the left:

The training at ELAM, a rigorous six-year program, is based on the same principles and curriculum that are used in Venezuela to train doctors in Comprehensive Community Medicine, known there as Medicina Integral Comunitaria, or MIC. 

Some of my young neighbors in Monte Carmelo are nearly finished with the MIC program and will soon be full-fledged MDs serving the residents of communities in the state of Lara and other areas that have been served by Cuban doctors working for Barrio Adentro over the past seven or eight years.

The articles below, written in 2007 and 2008, recount some of the experiences of the MIC students and the Barrio Adentro physicians who train them.  Much of the material in these blog entries has been incorporated into Revolutionary Doctors.