The Pérez de León hospital in Petare is, by law, managed by the Sucre municipality. The mayor is Primero Justicia’s Carlos Ocaríz. Yesterday, Hugo Chávez said he would not approve funding for the hospital’s new wing.
Chávez’s excuse for not approving the funds is that, according to him, any money earmarked for the hospital would somehow be appropriated by the opposition mayor’s office. I guess we all agree that the Comptroller’s Office – which should in theory prevent such a thing from happening – is absolutely worthless.
What Chávez doesn’t seem to understand is that the new building is not the property of the municipality because it was transferred to the central government by the previous (chavista) mayor one week before his term was up. In fact, just last year the Health Minister was promising to finish its construction, a project that has taken, ahem, eight years.
Chávez is not really punishing city hall, nor is he concerned about the misappropriation of funds. His real beef is with the people of Petare, the very patients who will use the new hospital, the ones who rejected his candidate for mayor.
It’s punishment by purse-strings: vote for me, and the money will flow; vote for the other guys, and you’re on your own. It’s the same way a kidnapper behaves with his victim.
Today we also learned that the official murder figures for 2009 were much, much higher than we (and the New York Times) reported last week. The intrepid Alek Boyd got a hold of the super-secret INE crime document, and he learned that last year’s total murder victim tally was a mind-boggling 21,132 homicides.
The report contains many more interesting stats, including the fact that the murder rate on the border is actually lower than in areas away from the border.
Chávez ignores crime as a problem, and neglects the hospitals that care for the victims. It’s safe to say Venezuela is not in the midst of a crime wave. It’s being destroyed by a chavista death tsunami.
Update: A few days after saying "NYET!" to the hospital, he backtracked. Sort of.