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Mission Miracle, a wonderful gift to humanity from Venezuela and Cuba Printer friendly page Print This
By Arthur Shaw
Axis of Logic
Friday, Jul 6, 2007

Mission Miracle, the three-year old Venezuelan-Cuban anti-blindness program initially for Latin America and the Caribbean, has already restored the sight of about 700,000 people from 30 countries and aims to restore the sight of about 6,000,000 blind people in the region by 2015.

The services that Mission Miracle offers to its patients are free.

Mission Miracle has drawn quite of bit of attention from the revolutionary and progressive media. With only a handful of exceptions, the bourgeois media, both in Latin America and the USA, have largely ignored the astonishingly successful ophthalmologic program. Ironically, it is the extreme reactionary sector of the US bourgeois media that shows the most interest in the program.

One of the partial exceptions to this non-coverage or bigoted coverage of Mission Miracle in the bourgeois media is John Otis' piece in the Houston chronicle, a moderate bourgeois newspaper, which gives a surprisingly factual account of the tremendous success of Mission Miracle with the customary or inescapable anti-socialist bias, mandatory in the capitalist press, largely held in the background of the story.

The Mission Miracle has, among others things, medical, political, and moral sides.

Medical side of Mission Miracle

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 37 million people in the world who have lost their sight as a result of preventable causes; of these, more than a million and a half are children below the age of 16.

The prevalence of preventable blindness varies in relation to the level of economic development in each country. While in highly developed capitalist countries, blindness hovers at 0.25%. In poorly developed capitalist countries with insufficient health care services, this figure can reach 1% of the populace.

In Third World countries, which are mostly poorly developed capitalist countries, the main causes of blindness are cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, infectious diseases such as trachoma and onchocerciasis, and Vitamin A deficiencies. Other ophthalmologic diseases such as pterygium, ptosis and strabism are very frequent in both children and adults.

Since cataracts are the cause of more than 50% of preventable cases of blindness in the world, one must perform between 2000 and 4000 cataract operations for each million people annually if one wishes to gradually eradicate this disease.

Glaucoma causes 15% of the blindness in the world. Between 1 and 2% of the world population suffers from this disease, and these figures double in black populations.  These cases require a high percentage of filter or trabeculoplasty laser surgery.

On July 5, 2004, the Cuban  President  Fidel Castro and Venezuelan  President Hugo Chvez agreed to start Mission  Miracle to aid patients with eye diseases, as a result of the complaints from many workers in the joint Venezuelan-Cuban literacy program in Venezuela about many of their students whom they were trying to teach to read but who couldnt even see, according to John Otis article in the Houston Chronicle.

In the early days of the program in 2004, Cuba mostly supplied the experts and Venezuela mostly the money for Mission Miracle, but today Venezuelan doctors, many educated at Cuban medical schools or at Venezuelan medical schools where Cuban doctors teach, are very much involved on the operational side of the program.

Now, three years later, in addition of flying hundreds of thousands of patients to Cuba and Venezuela for operations and treatment, Cuba has also constructed and donated 36 ophthalmologic centers which are already functioning in 8 countries in Latin American, the Caribbean and Africa (13 centers in Venezuela, 2 in Haiti, 12 in Bolivia, 2 in Guatemala, 2 in Ecuador, 1 in Honduras, 1 in Panama, 1 in Mali and 1 in Nicaragua [2 more are currently under construction in Nicaragua].) where, so far, 686,442 Latin American, African and Caribbean patients have already been operated on, as of June 13, 2007. More than 690 Cuban public health professionals are working in these ophthalmologic centers. These centers contain state-of-the-art equipment and supplies, most of which are manufactured in Cuba.

Another point on the medical side of Mission Miracle is that its incomparable success points to the existence of a medical and organizational infrastructure that can also be deployed to battle other diseases that plague humanity.

The elements of the infrastructure seem to be:

  1. The scientific know-how to battle a given pestilence

  2. Medical institutions in either patient's country or Cuba and Venezuela to treat hundreds of thousands of patients

  3. Means of international transportation, mostly passenger jets, to move hundred of thousands of patients

  4. Financial resources to pay for the enormous program

  5. Organizational and administrative abilities to run efficiently such a massive operation

  6. Construction workers who are skilled enough and tough enough to promptly build clinics and hospitals in the difficult conditions of poorly developed capitalist countries of the Third World

  7. The procurement or manufacture of the necessary equipment that the treatment requires

  8. The procurement or manufacture of the necessary supplies, especially the all-important drugs, the program requires

  9. The revolutionary or moral will or both to act in accordance with revolutionary and moral principles

  10. A population of largely moral or revolutionary people or both which will support or, at least, tolerate the program

The magnificent performance of Mission Miracle which has bestowed sight on almost 700,000 people from 30  different countries in only three years demonstrates unquestionably that all of the elements of this infrastructure -- this cluster of technical, transportation, communication, organizational, physical, and financial resources -- exists for a universal battle against preventable blindness and, perhaps, against pestilence and epidemics of other kinds, such as AIDS.

It is the demonstrable existence of this international and humanitarian infrastructure of the Venezuelans and Cubans that alarms or terrifies the US imperialists more than the beneficence or the good works of Mission Miracle.

It is possible that even the Cubans and Venezuelans, as yet, dont appreciate what they have and the immensity of the good they have done for humanity.

Lamentably, most of us tend to judge the worth and the significance of things by the degree of coverage the thing gets in the bourgeois media.

The greatest obstacle to this proposed universal battle against international epidemics, which is something supremely moral, is the evil in high places in the USA that indomitably opposes such an operation. A "Mission Miracle" that battles AIDS, for example, is blocked by the unavailability of infrastructure item No. 8 or  "the procurement or manufacture of the necessary supplies, especially the all-important drugs, the program requires."

The US imperialists control most of the AIDS drugs. In 2006, almost four million people died from the lack of these drugs.

If you like go ahead make excuses for the US imperialists or continue to ignore the holocaust.

But while you make your excuses for or ignore the holocaust, keep in mind that over 40 million people are currently at risk. And the number is rising rapidly.

Political side of Mission Miracle

Although the US capitalist media love to play up, as a big propaganda show, isolated cases where somebody in the USA airlifts one or two patients from a poor country to the USA for operations and treatments, the truth is that neither the imperialist US regime, the US bourgeois media, US medical profession, US religious community, nor the US bourgeoisie is doing hardly anything about the millions and millions of cases of preventable blindness in the countries of Latin America and Caribbean, so-called neighbors of the USA.

Indeed, most of these US political and ideological forces dont seem too concern about blindness in the USA, not to mention the Third World.

Today, the political struggle or politics in Latin America and Caribbean is not, for the most part, over whether the state is a democracy or a dictatorship; the struggle, for the most
part, is over whether the democracy is bourgeois or proletarian.

In a concrete way, Mission Miracle strengthens the argument that proletarian democracies are politically and morally superior to bourgeois democracy.

The form of the state -- that is, how power is exercised -- may be identical is both proletarian and bourgeois democracies. But the content of the state -- that is, what social class chiefly exercises power and for what class power is chiefly exercised -- is very different between proletarian and bourgeois democracies.

Mission Miracle is a specific exercise of power by two democratic states the Cuban and Venezuelan governments   with chiefly proletarian content. It is an exercise of power aimed chiefly  for the benefit of working and poor peoples of all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

[Bourgeois ideologists deny that both Cuba and Venezuela are democracies of any kind bourgeois or proletarian. In the case of Cuba, their denial of its democracy rests mainly on the Cuban preference for multi-candidate elections rather multi-party elections and the alleged lack of the so-called "free press," meaning essentially, journalistic space for each sector of the bourgeoisie -- that is, liberal, centrist, and reactionary -- to own and dominate a sector of the mass media independent of government control. Since any Cuban citizen, whatever his or her party or ideological identity can run for public office in Cuba and the Communist Party doesn't campaign for any candidate, multi-candidate elections may be at par with multi-party elections. Cuba certainly doesn't have a "free press" as bourgeois ideologists define it, but the Cuban press seems more truthful than the bourgeois media and that should count for something. Truth disables the bourgeois media which must be free to lie (the norm) or report factually. The arguments of bourgeois ideologists against the authenticity of Venezuelan democracy are of course transparent lies.]

Most democracies in Latin America and the Caribbean are definitely bourgeois democracies, but Mission Miracle springs from two proletarian democracies or almost proletarian in the case of Venezuela. In Cuba, about 97 percent of the government officials are workers. In Venezuela, a growing and powerful minority of the state officers are workers. That Mission Miracle springs from these two countries is not an accident.

So, Mission Miracle makes the point, in a concrete way, to its almost 700,000 patients from 30 countries who got their sight back and to the millions of relatives and friends of these 700,000 patients that states in which workers chiefly exercise power and exercise it chiefly for the workers and for the poor are better than states in which the bourgeoisie chiefly exercise power and exercise power exclusively for the benefit of bourgeoisie and foreign imperialists. 

The 700,000 patients and their millions of relatives and friends will have to figure out in future elections in the 30 or so democracies in Latin America and the Caribbean which candidates, if any, are class conscious workers and will exercise power chiefly in the interests of the workers and the poor.

To be sure, Fidel and Hugo Chavez are clever dudes.

Evil that is, to know, like, and do wrong is always a bad thing, but it is really bad when it has power. In the USA, it has power.

Conversely, good is always good, but it is really good when it has power. In Cuba and Venezuela, it has power.

The moral side of the Miracle

One of the moral points related to Mission Miracle is that the program repudiates the vile mercantile concept of the medical profession as a mean vendor of medical services as if these services were ordinary commodities bought and sold in the so-called "free market" with prices fixed by supply and demand. In neo-liberal or laissez faire capitalism, if a person can't afford the medical service, then he does without.  In this case, he does without sight. The idea that human beings are entitled to medical services independent of their financial status is the gist of the concept of "socialized medicine" that Mission Miracle concretely expresses.

"The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-laborers," wrote Marx and Engels in the Manifesto of the Communist Party.

For the most part, middle class and bourgeois physicians are today eager converts to wage-laborers.  Increasingly, the bourgeoisie substitutes horns for the former halo that hovered over heads of its physicians. Rather than reverent awe, many patients in bourgeois society are shocked and appalled by the hustler mentality they find in their doctors. Although many physicians are today only paid wage-laborers, bossed around like peons or dish-washers by insurance companies, HMOs, drug companies, and the bean-counters from the business offices of their hospitals, these physicians getting at least $4,000 a week in the USA are highly paid wage-laborers.

Mission Miracle helps to restore the dignity or the halo to the practice of medicine.

Upon seeing good being done in the world by their foes or by anybody else, the US imperialists, their regime, and the reactionary sector of the US people are all furious. They are especially  displeased with Honduras and Guatemala, close allies of US imperialism, for participating in Miracle.

In the May 2004 Report of the US Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, a document in which the US imperialist regime outlines its plot to pull off a counter-revolution in Cuba , Mission Miracle wasnt mentioned because it didnt then exist. This May 2004 Report only said that "Reports from Venezuela also indicate that Cuban doctors are engaging in overt political activities to boost Chavezs popularity."  No doubt, these "overt political activities" in which Cuban doctors were allegedly engaged was the competent practice of medicine. Two years later, after the wondrous success of Mission Miracle was widely acknowledged by millions of people in Latin America and Caribbean whose kin and friends had their vision restored in Cuba or in Venezuela or by the Cuban doctors in patients own country, the eyes of US imperialism were glued to the program. So, the July 2006 Report of the US Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba Report, which updates the imperialist plot against the people of Cuba, recommends that the dictatorship in Washington stop US companies from exporting to Cuba any equipment and supplies to health institutions in Cuba which treat foreign patients or to Cuban programs that care for foreign patients in the patients own country.  Both proposals violate a 2001 US law that exempts food and medicine from the US economic blockade of Cuba. On July 10, 2006, Bush signed this July 2006 Report, effectively making Report the foreign policy of the US regime toward Cuba.

The US dictatorship lobbies and bribes foreign medical associations and foreign health authorities not to let Cuban doctors practice in their countries and not to let citizens of their own country educated in Cuban medical schools practice in their own country.  In April 2007, Mr. George W. Bush publicly scrolled Haitian President Rene Preval for the ties between Haiti and Cuba/Venezuela. Mission Miracle is one of the most important of these ties.  In June 2007, Mr. Bush lectured the heads of government of 14 Caribbean states about their ties with Cuba and Venezuela. Some of these Caribbean leaders were not amused by the arrogance and conceit of this alleged devil who illegally and unconstitutionally occupies the White House.

So, the US regime which does next to nothing for the  blind of Latin America and the Caribbean ties to stab in the back the Cubans and Venezuelans who giving or restoring sight to hundred of thousands of people.

This is evil that befits the devil.

But it is unfair to blame Mr. Bush for all of this evil, for this evil also attaches to the regime over which Mr. Bush presides and clings to the people the regime represents.

Since Mr. Bush has never been elected president of the United States,  neither he nor his regime
constitutionally represents anybody.  His regime is a dictatorship.

Apart from constitutional illegitimacy, Mr. Bush  enjoys the political support of US reactionaries, known as the "GOPs,"  about a third of the US people and electorate. The rest of the US people, the independents and the liberals, understandably seem to despise Mr. Bush.

Thus, the Miracle hints at the moral make-up of the US regime and the people regime represents as well as the moral make-up of the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes and the people the two regimes represent.

How do people in the United States view Mission Miracle?

For the most part, the liberals, about a third of the US people and electorate, have never heard of the Miracle, but if they were ever to hear about it, the Miracle will please them and they will likely do what they can do to stop Mr. Bush from destroying the Miracle. To the liberals, the Miracle is good, something of an oasis in the desert.

Similarly, the independents, who are also about a third of the US people and electorate, havent for the most part heard about the Miracle. But they differ from the liberals. The independents will feel no different if they knew about the Miracle than before they knew. They will do nothing after they know that they werent doing before they knew. They will not stop doing anything after they know that they were doing before they knew. To the independents among the US people and electorate, the Miracle is irrelevant -- that is, it doesnt put anything in their pockets nor takes skin off of their backs.

Of the three sectors of the US people and electorate -- liberals, independents, and reactionaries -- the reactionaries in the USA know the most about the Miracle. But evil thrills US reactionaries and they want very much to see more evil; so, these reactionaries are adverse to the Miracle. Those who know about the Miracle want it stopped. Those who dont know about it would be distressed if they did. Over the last year or so, political support for Mr. Bush, the infamous GOP leader, has fallen from about 33 percent to somewhere like 24 percent. This 9-point drop doesnt imply a shrinkage of the reactionary sector of the US people and electorate, because many GOPs are dismayed or disappointed with Mr. Bush because he is not MORE evil in Iraq, with AIDS, poverty, blindness, homelessness (like the one million children who live on US streets), etc.

Therefore, there is good reason, in the USA, for our high hopes in both the electoral and legislative struggles ahead, because about two-thirds of the US people and electorate are not evil.

Still,  about a third is and very much so.

If liberals, progressives and revolutionaries fail to find some way to check the evil that resides in high places in the USA, Mission Miracle and its future extensions and expressions may never reach their desperately-needed potentials.

As for the moral make-up of the Venezuelans and Cubans from what we can divine about it from the Miracle, lets just say that nothing more dramatically describes and distinguishes the fundamental differences in politics and morality between, on the one hand, the proletarian ruling class of Cuba and increasingly a similar class in Venezuela and, on the other hand, the smug bourgeois ruling class of the USA than the stark contrast between Mission Miracle which has, in three years, miraculously bestowed sight to almost 700,000 people from 30 countries while the US imperialist aggression and occupation of Iraq has, in four years, occasioned the lost of  over 700,000 Iraqi lives.

Copyright 2007 by

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