Blog of Mass Distraction

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

More Good News

A cease fire was agreed to by Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas. While the leaders were in Egypt they managed to negotiate a cease fire, which Hamas promptly said it was not bound by it. But I'm not certain how long the cease fire will last since just last week the Israeli government seized land in Jerusalem using some decades old law.1 If Sharon's government keeps talking about peace while taking actions like this I doubt there is much chance for a lasting end to the violence. Israel's persistence in taking land and maintaining the wall which is widely regarded as illegal, give a rather bleak vision of the future.

In an absolutely brilliant move by Hugo Chavez and the aging Fidel Castro, an exchange program has been setup between the 2 countries. Venezuela is sending some 50,000 barrels of oil to Cuba to help it's ailing economy (which has been subject to illegal sanctions by the US for decades). In exchange 15,000 Cuban doctors are working in Venezuela in poor and remote areas. Some in Venezuela (including some doctors) are outraged by the deal, but then a lot of people there are outraged by everything Chavez has done to uplift the poor and needy in his country. PAHO has come out with strong support for the agreement. Cuba has highly regarded education and health care systems (especially compared with the rest of Central and South America). This combined with it's struggling economy has made Cuba a massive exporter of doctors. Cuba sends more doctors to third world countries than the WHO. So Venezuelans that have never had a medical check-up before can now see doctors and have doctors visit them in their homes. Free medical care for thousands of poor and indigent people... amazing!



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