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Chavez's Michael Moore Moment

Michael Moore won’t be alone if he heads to Cuba for his next doctor’s visit; Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez turned down an offer from Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff last week to seek treatment for cancer in her country, choosing instead to rely on the healthcare system that Fidel built.

Chavez’s decision may have been motivated by a desire to keep his health a secret, but he might also be guessing that he will receive extra special attention in Cuba. Chavez has provided the island with a healthy flow of subsidized oil to the tune of $3.5 billion per year.

Thanks to Chavez’ inspirational leadership, Venezuela today enjoys the highest inflation and lowest growth in the region.  The Cuban subsidy is not popular among Venezuelans and no successor to Chavez is likely to be as open-handed.

Any successor will no doubt find it difficult to justify a continuation of this arrangement, so it is easy to imagine the Castro brothers marshaling all of the resources at their disposal to keep Comrade Hugo in check writing condition as long as they possibly can.

The great Bolivarian can sleep safely in Cuba.  No death panels will convene to discuss Chavez’ prospects, and no “Do Not Resuscitate” signs will be placed on his door.

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