Want to know about hitting someone when they are down? Ask Noam Chomsky.
Hugo Chávez has long considered Noam Chomsky one of his best friends in the west. He has basked in the renowned scholar's praise for Venezuela's socialist revolution and echoed his denunciations of US imperialism.
The president may be about to have second thoughts about that, because his favourite intellectual has now turned his guns on Chávez.
Speaking to the Observer last week, Chomsky has accused the socialist leader of amassing too much power and of making an "assault" on Venezuela's democracy.
"Concentration of executive power, unless it's very temporary and for specific circumstances, such as fighting world war two, is an assault on democracy. You can debate whether [Venezuela's] circumstances require it: internal circumstances and the external threat of attack, that's a legitimate debate. But my own judgment in that debate is that it does not."
This type of speech has to leave a bit of a mark, particularly when going through a new diagnosis of cancer and still trying to run a country from afar.
Much has been speculated over the past few weeks regarding the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez after a prolonged absence from his country seeking treatment for an mostly unspecified medical ailment requiring surgical intervention. By accounts, Chavez urgent surgery in Havana Cuba for a pelvic abscess. Turns out there is much more here than a pelvic abscess.
A very thin and clearly gravelly ill Hugo Chavez finally addressed the Nation tonight from Havana, Cuba and once again lied and raised questions in a clear change of heart about whether to tell or not the truth about what ailment he has been suffering and how it has been handled. Chavez, the eternal improviser, actually read the speech, saying he had a malignant tumor that was discovered after a second operation, which had not been revealed until today
Much speculation at first was related to the possibility of metastatic prostate cancer. This never fit very well for me as prostate cancer generally affects men much older and doesn't generally result in radical prostatectomy, particularly after metastasis. This line of reasoning was bolstered by Chavez himself as he lamented to the Venezuelan people that he hadn't undergone routing health care maintenance. Many speculated that this was in reference to digital rectal exams. This line of reasoning fits better with colorectal screening though. DRE's are still part of the process, but are accompanied by the dreaded colonoscopy. That is a 3 foot tube with a camera on the end that is inserted into one's backside in order to "screen" for potentially malignant polyps. Really not something someone with the perceived ego of Chavez would submit himself to without some profound provocation.
Chavez will have to use a colostomy bag for at least three months, the Barcelona-based newspaper reported. Chavez, who is recovering from two surgeries in Cuba, isn’t able to begin chemotherapy due to the infection, the paper said. The situation is serious because the tumor may have metastasized, El Periodico reported, citing the diplomats.
The first operation for a pelvic abscess was performed by a Cuban surgeon while the second operation to remove the tumor was performed by a Spanish surgeon in Havana the newspaper said.
The Real Cuba adds thoughts and a translation. I don't speak, read, or translate Spanish into English, so I cannot account for the veracity, but it seems in accordance with other sources. Still, it is worth reading over the official source for this. Even in spanish, it is not hard to pick up on the significance
The first operation was a mistake because it was performed after it was erroneously diagnosed that Chávez only was suffering from a pelvic abscess.
Here is my translation of what the Spanish newspaper is reporting: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is suffering from colon cancer that has perforated the intestinal wall and has caused an infection in the abdomen. Chávez will need, at least for the next three months, a colostomy bag (a bag for stool), according to information from Venezuelan diplomatic reports that El Periodico has been able to review.
These same sources have reported that Chavez was first operated by a Cuban surgeon, who made the mistake of operating him as if he was suffering from a pelvic abscess. A few days later, the tumor fistulized. Given the seriousness of the situation, the Cuban authorities required for a second operation the services of a Spanish surgeon, which was probably José Luis García Sabrido, chief of surgery at the hospital Gregorio Marañon of Madrid, but this could not be confirmed by this newspaper. (My note: This was the same surgeon who traveled to Cuba to check on Castro)
The same report notes that, for now, Chavez can not receive chemotherapy because the infection produced by the first intervention prevents it. After seeing the medical reports, the same diplomatic sources suggest that the patient's condition is "serious" because there are chances that the tumor has caused metastasis."
This was a stilted announcement that was read by Chavez, the first time I can remember him reading from a piece of paper. Coming from him who makes fun of people who prefer to read prepared statements, him the great improvisor never at a loss for words, it can mean only one of two things: he is really sick and was propped for that speech made short and sort of direct; or he did not write the speech at all and somehow was coaxed into reading it. For me it is yet more evidence that we are a Cuban colony.
There is much more to be found and considered at Venezuela News and Views.
“What struck me is that at one point during his announcement, he misspoke and said ‘evolution’ instead of ‘evaluation.’ He corrected himself, but it was odd that in a video that was so staged — complete with props of the Venezuelan flag and a painting of Simon Bolivar — they did not do a retake,” said Douglas Leon, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation. “What does that say? To me, it says he can only stand up for about 20 minutes, and they couldn’t let him stand for the time it would take to do it over.”
The presence of an abscessed tumor is not a good sign, said Dr. Thomas J. George Jr., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida and a specialist in gastrointestinal cancers.
“This is usually because the cancer is fairly aggressive,’’ he said. “This could be a variety of different cancers — none of them good.”
The top possibility, he said, would be colorectal cancer, followed by prostate, bladder, or perhaps a sarcoma — a soft tissue cancer.
“Prostate would probably be the best option in terms of prognosis,” George said.
He also said it’s possible that the original abscess drainage procedure itself could have contaminated the area with cancer cells. Treatment, doctors agreed, would be aggressive radiation and chemotherapy.
“Prostate tumors normally do not cause this kind of abscess,” said Leon Lapco, president of the Venezuelan-American Doctors Association and a surgeon at Mercy Hospital. “I would say it’s his colon, the large intestine. It’s the most likely to cause diverticulitis, perforations and abscesses."
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