Top private restauranteurs in Cuba
More of the same: phony reforms being touted as the genuine article.
The Castro regime announced a plan to gradually privatize all restaurants.
Those familiar with the corrupt nature of Castrogonia will wince at the enormity of this bold deception. Those who are gullible will think this reform is for real.
Who is going to have enough money to rent the restaurant space from the government?
Who will get the permits? How much will the permits cost? What controls will be imposed on the pseudo-owners of these establishments?
Right now, according to various sources, the most successful "private" restaurants are those owned by the families who run the country.
So....who do you think will end up running these "private" restaurants and making the biggest profits?... and how will they interpret the meaning of "gradual"?
Gotcha again, suckers!
Cuba to privatize 8,984 restaurants in economic reform
The Cuban government announced plans on Friday to sell 8,984 state-owned restaurants to private operators, the latest step in the communist island’s economic reforms.
Cubans frequently complain about the restaurants, which are famous for poor quality, bad service and running out of food.
Cuban Deputy Minister of Trade Aida Chavez said the state would sell them off in a gradual process starting next year.
Chavez said the government would rent the buildings where the restaurants are to the new owners, but sell off all other assets.
Cuba currently has 1,261 private restaurants that offer better-quality food and service at a higher price than state establishments.
Known as paladares, they were first authorized by former Cuban president Fidel Castro in the 1990s.
Initially, Castro only allowed family-run restaurants with a maximum of 12 seats, but today they can seat up to 50 guests and hire staff.
Rest of the story HERE.
By Fabian Flores in Café Fuerte (translation by Havana Times):
Cuba’s Military on the Hunt for Chinese Tourism
The Grupo Gaviota, one of the pillars of the commercial chain operated by Cuba’s Armed Forces, has launched an aggressive campaign to attract Chinese tourists to Cuba.
The Cuban government is laying its bets on the mid-term potential of the Chinese tourism market, today the top source country (reporting 100 million travelers every year)
The number of Chinese tourists that travel to the island is infinitesimal when compared to other destinations (a mere 22,218 Chinese travelled to Cuba last year), despite the 100 % growth experienced since 2008. China ranks 15th among the island’s tourism source countries.
Courting the Chinese
According to a report issue by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), a delegation of the Grupo Gaviota company headed by general manager Ileana Pilar Martinez traveled to China at the beginning of September and held a meeting at the Cuban embassy with the three agencies that were the main sources of Chinese tourism to the island in 2013.
Martiez invited the Chinese companies to assess the possibility of joint ventures in the tourism sector, from the building of hotels to the creation of golf courses.
The visit to China by Gaviota representatives coincided with the launching of a six-minute promotional video (below), with Chinese subtitles, about Cuba’s touristic charms.
By the close of the year, the Grupo Gaviota S.A. will operate 55 hotels, 12 of them in the Varadero beach area, for a total of 29,400 rooms. The company is also planning the development of marinas and a range of other tourist facilities.
The expansion of the Gaviota Varadero Marina, expected to become Cuba’s largest and most modern facility of its kind (with a mooring capacity of 1,200 vessels), will be completed next year.
The first Cuba-China forum was held in Havana last year. It was aimed at the promotion of Cuban products that could contribute to an increase in Chinese tourism.
At the forum, there was talk of raising the number of Chinese visitors to the island to 100,000 a year. The Chinese ambassador in Havana, Zhang Tuo, went as far as predicting “a sea of Chinese tourists for the near future.
Some of the issues to be addressed in order to encourage more visits to Cuba from China are the scarce availability of Chinese food on the island, the training of tourist guides who speak Mandarin and the search for better flight connections between the two countries.
Gaviota video promoting Chinese tourism in Cuba.
"Foreign reporters--preferably American--were much more valuable to us than any military victory. Much more valuable than recruits for our guerrilla force, were American media recruits to export our propaganda." (Che Guevara, 1959)
From Congressional hearings in 1960:
Senator DODD. "Mr. Gardner,(former U.S. amb. to Cuba Arthur Gardner) do you have any idea why the United States allowed Castro to get arms from the United States, and would not allow Batista to have arms to preserve his government...you have been quoted as saying that Washington, "pulled the rug out" from under Batista?"
Mr Gardner: "I feel it very strongly, that the State Department was influenced, first, by those stories by (the New York Times') Herbert Matthews, and soon (support for Castro) became kind of a fetish with them."
(Granted, it was hardly a shortage of arms that caused the defeat of Batista's army, which always greatly outnumbered and out-armed Castro's. The U.S. arms embargo against his gov. was more symbolic ("whoops!" said many Cubans. "So the U.S. is now backing Castro?..Well? They MUST know what they're doing!...Fine. we'll start betting on that horse.")...but still and all...
....In wistful moods, I often wonder what Cuba (a nation with a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan in 1958) might look like today if such as Townhall, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News, etc. had been around to mount a counterattack against Castro's U.S. media and State Department propagandists:
"Mega Dittos, Rush. We listen down here in Havana, pick it up from Miami. Love your show."
"Thank you, Ambassador Smith. That's quite an honor, sir. Now regarding this amazing report we saw on Townhall this morning, you claim Castro's people, the so-called rebels, tried to assassinate you, the U.S. ambassador to Cuba? And this is the bunch our State Department backs?!"
"We have very credible evidence, Rush. We got a very detailed report from police sources down here that Castro's people were plotting to assassinate me in order to create an international incident. I've been talking to dozens of very knowledgeable Cubans and they've convinced me beyond doubt this Castro fella is gonna be big trouble if he takes over. He has a murder record and Soviet ties going back to the late 40's. You wouldn't believe....."
"Good heavens, Ambassador Smith!-- Folks, are you hearing this?..Heard that, Mr Snerdley?!... Then what's all this in the New York Times and on CBS about the Cuban "Robin Hood," the Cuban "liberator" etc, I mean remembering Walter Duranty we were already a little suspicious, but THIS....!.
"It's a snow job, Rush, all smoke and mirrors. This Herbert Matthews guy from the New York Times has a long record of reporting favorably on Communists, he did it during the Spanish Civil War, playing up the Communists as "Democrats." Agrarian reformers, the whole bit. And this Robert Taber fellow from CBS is even worse. I've talked to dozens of Cubans who knew Fidel Castro from childhood. They're all worried. They can't for the life of them understand why so many in our government seem smitten by him."
"Pretty alarming, Ambassador Smith. And we just saw on Sean Hannity last night that the U.S. is putting an arms embargo on the Cuban Government, in order to weaken their fight against these Castro rebels! Mr Ambassador, I'm no diplomat, but how much sense does THAT make? I mean, who's behind this crazy stuff? Hope you'll excuse me Ambassador Smith, but I just can't for the life of me understand why we seem to be opening the way for these communists and strewing flowers in their path. Makes no sense....."
"Welcome to Hannity, friends. Tonight we have Mr. Arthur Gardner, former ambassador to Cuba before he was replaced by the current ambassador Earl Smith. Interestingly, Mr. Gardner's warnings about Fidel Castro and his rebel cohorts are identical to those of Ambassador Smith's that we heard on Rush's Show this morning. He has an amazing report, that we just read on Townhall, alleging that the State Department's chief of Caribbean affairs--the people in our government, who we pay with our hard-earned tax dollars to study the Cuban situation today...well, it turns out this career desk chief at Foggy Bottom was--stand back for this one, folks--he was a Cuban Communist party member in the 1930's! Now he's the U.S. official overseeing our Cuba policy!"
"That's exactly right, Sean. Crazy as it sounds. I hear from sources that he's the one who pressed for the arms embargo against Batista. His name is William Wieland and he's very close to Herbert Matthews of the New York Times. For certain, Fidel's brother Raul and his sidekick Che Guevara are long-time Communists. Everyone --except our state Department and CIA-- seems to know that!"
Sean Hannity: "Ambassador Gardner, hope you'll excuse me, sir, this sounds like déjà vu all over again. Just a decade ago weren't we hearing that Mao and his bunch over in China were simply well-meaning agrarian reformers, wanting to improve the lot of these impoverished peasants...and all that stuff? Good Grief--and here we have it again! Almost word for word! But this is going on 90 miles away!...Please stay with us, folks. We'll be right back after this word from Chick-Fil-A. You won’t want to miss what's coming up next...."
Our friends at Townhall help disseminate items little understood outside the tiny Cuban-American informational ghetto.
Cubanization is a painful process, as Venezuelans are finding out.
Your freedom and your dignity are corroded away bit by bit, as if some lethal acid is being dripped on your head several times a day, every day of your life.
The dripping could turn into a torrent at any moment, to speed up the process.
Regardless of its pace, one thing is for sure: the process will not end until a handful of men have all the power and all the wealth.
Here's the latest step in that process. Drip, drip, drip.
Firing of editorial cartoonist in Venezuela raises censorship concerns
The firing of a longtime editorial cartoonist at El Universal newspaper for drawings critical of Venezuela’s government caused a protest Friday by former colleagues concerned about censorship of opposition viewpoints.
Cartoonist Rayma Suprani's firing this week reflects the country’s “increasing censorship,” according to a statement issued by staff at the newspaper.
A political cartoon by Rayma Suprani reads in Spanish "Health" and "Health in Venezuela" with the flat line starting with the signature of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez. The cartoon was published in the Sept. 17 El Universal newspaper in Caracas, Venezuela.
Long an opposition voice in Venezuelan politics, the editorial page of the 105-year-old newspaper was often critical of Venezuela’s socialist government, including President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. The newspaper was acquired in July by interests aligned with the Chavista government. Since then, numerous columnists have left the publication.
“We’re sorry that [Rayma] is no longer with us and we see [her firing] as one of the major costs that the new ownership is paying for trying to adapt to an editorial line favorable to the government,” the staff’s statement said.
Suprani sent a message over social media Wednesday saying she was let go because her cartoons made the Maduro government “uncomfortable.” Her last sketch, published on Sept. 17, showed two fever charts one atop the other. One was labeled “Health” and tracked a patient’s normal heart beat. The other was labeled “Venezuela’s Health” and showed a flat line, or cardiac arrest.
rest of the story HERE.
Nothing is better than gobbling up successful businesses
Cuban independent journalist Roberto de Jesus Guerra Perez in Harvard's Neiman Foundation for Journalism:
It’s Good to Talk
Hablemos Press is trying to bring freedom of expression to Cuba, one story at a time
Cuban police arrest family members of imprisoned dissidents during a 2013 protest
Members of Cuba’s mass media, which is completely in the hands of the state, cover only what’s convenient for the government. Because of that, in February of 2009, a group of seven independent journalists and human rights activists in Havana founded Hablemos Press—Let’s Talk—as an independent news agency to break through government censorship and inform the world about events the official media tries to silence.
Our objective was to create a system for gathering and disseminating information and for training journalists and collaborators all over Cuba. Our only equipment was one old computer, one voice recorder, and one telephone line. Today, 38 people work for Hablemos Press. We are active in nine of the country’s 16 provinces and have more than 100 collaborators. We report from and for Cuba on politics, culture, commerce, ?nance, art, literature, and sports—anything that’s news. And we have done this despite government repression against our journalists.
We have been arrested, deported to our hometowns when police ?nd us elsewhere, threatened with death, harassed, and accused of “pre-criminal dangerousness,”a vague charge that can lead to anything from a ban on foreign travel to a prison sentence. Police and State Security agents beat us, ?ne us, and con?scate our equipment, including cell phones, cameras, flash drives, computers, recorders, and even interview notes. Our relatives also have been victims of this psychological warfare.
We Cubans live in absolutely horrible conditions. We enjoy no freedoms. We do not trust one another because the government has ground us down to the point where we believe other people could be policemen. We cannot organize peaceful public gatherings to voice our true feelings. We do not have the right to speak our minds—and those of us who do risk going to prison.
For my work as a journalist, I have served more than three years in prison and been detained more than 180 times since 2003. In prison, I witnessed daily beatings, medicine and food shortages, overcrowded cells, torture, suicide, and self-mutilation, things some people cannot believe actually happen in this dictatorship that calls itself “the Cuban Revolution.”
But we keep working as journalists because we are committed to supporting freedom of expression. Journalism must be impartial, but we in Cuba report mostly on government violations because we live under a military dictatorship that abuses the people and civil society every day.
We work in chaotic conditions, in a small and hot room about 12 feet by 20 feet, sometimes with up to six people working on three computers that are not connected to the Internet. We file our reports to supporters abroad when foreign embassies give us a few hours of Internet access in their offices.
Continue reading HERE.
Via Fausta's Blog:
Argentina: Cristina’s vultures
Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez has taken time between Botox injections to indulge in more name-calling.
No longer satisfied to refer to Argentina’s creditors as vulture funds, she now has vulture airlines:
Cristina tilda de ‘buitres con turbinas’ a American Airlines Cristina dubs American Airlines ‘vultures with turbines’
American Airlines will not sell tickets in Argentina more than 90 days in advance. Cristina says this is an “attack against the country to cause uncertainty” about the currency.
Considering how Argentina joins the Venezuela School of Economics by passing laws
that cap consumer prices of goods, set profit margins for private businesses and levy fines on companies found to be making “artificial or unjustified” profits
AA is worrying about getting paid. Over in Venezuela, the government is withholding US$3.6 billion in airline ticket revenue.
Isabel Saint Malo: Foreign Minister of Panama
Everyone knew this was coming, so it's no surprise.
But now it's official. Raul "The Reformer" will definitely infest the Panama summit.
The invitation was formally delivered in person by a lady almost as pretty as Raul: Panama's very bourgeois foreign minister, Isabel Saint Malo.
Only death or dismemberment will keep Raul from attending.
In the super-charged symbolic world of diplomacy, this coup is as big as they come.
Panama foreign minister invites Raul Castro to Americas Summit
HAVANA (Reuters) – Panamanian Foreign Minister Isabel Saint Malo personally invited Cuban President Raul Castro to the Summit of the Americas her nation is hosting in April, according to a Cuban government statement published yesterday.
Saint Malo met Castro on Thursday during a one-day visit to Cuba, where she delivered a verbal invitation that puts the United States on the spot diplomatically.
Washington, which initiated the summits in 1994, blocked Cuba’s invitation to the previous six events, saying the Communist-ruled country’s one-party political system was not democratic.
Panama’s invitation amounts to a diplomatic coup for Cuba and follows demands by governments of many Latin American and Caribbean countries that it be invited.
“The United States faces a tough choice: either alter its policy toward Cuba or face the virtual collapse of its diplomacy toward Latin America,” said Richard Feinberg, a senior fellow of the Washington-based Brookings Institution who helped organise the first summit when working for the Clinton administration.
Whole sad story HERE
By Regina Coyula in Translating Cuba:
Pot With Missing Cord Doesn’t Come With a Guarantee
Tiendas Panamericanas [Panamerican Stores], owned by the CIMEX corporation, has just launched a grand (for Cuban national standards) shopping center. Utilizing the building formerly occupied by the old towel factory, Telva, on the corner of 26th Avenue and Calzada del Cerro street, a side addition was built, doubling the space. The opening of Puentes Grandes has been well received, being that until now only small stores have existed in that neighborhood, and the closest shopping centers — La Puntilla, Galerias Paseo, and Plaza Carlos III — are located about two miles away.
Spurred by curiosity, I visited Puentes Grandes last Saturday. Hundreds of people had flocked to the place. There was a line at the handbag security station, because bags and purses are not allowed inside stores that take convertible currency. There was another line at the entrance. We were going on half an hour already. In other circumstances I would have left, but resisted the impulse just to be able to write this article. Finally, I went through a narrow entryway where, as always, are those who wait, and those other, clever ones who butt the line. The interior entrance is quite spacious, with metal shopping carts, and other cute small plastic carts on wheels for which I predict a brief, happy life, and baskets. All is set up for the customer to select his purchases; merchandise is kept behind the counter in the perfume and household appliance departments.
A large interior arcade connects the grocery and housewares area with the hardware department, where I was detained by an employee. To go from one area to the other, you have to now go outside and re-enter, even though just days before you could walk directly between departments and check out at any register. Why is this? The employee doesn’t know, but he was assigned there to enforce the trajectory. I had placed various items in my cart, then had to stand at the register line, go outside, stand in another line to leave my purchases at the handbag security station, then go stand in another line to enter the hardware area.
Among my purchases was a pressure cooker — a Columbian one. I don’t know whatever happened to those marvelous pressure cookers from the INPUD factory of the city of Santa Clara, which for a while now have not been on the market. At the exit of every Cuban store there is always an employee who compares purchases to sales slips
Employee: “You’re missing the guarantee for the pressure cooker.”
Me: “And where do I get that?”
Employee: “In Household Appliances.”
Back at Household Appliances, the young (all the employees are very young) lady told me “no,” in that overly-familiar, faux-affectionate way that many mistake for kindness:
“Mami (Mom), do you see a power cord in this pot? My department is *electrical* household appliances. The guarantee is given at the register.”
The check-out girl assured me that she had no guarantee certificates at the register, that it was at Household Appliances where I had to obtain one. Continue reading Reports from Cuba: Pot with missing cord doesn’t come with a guarantee
Keeping in mind that Castrogonia has a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council, this speech seems nearly miraculous.
I wonder if there is any film available of the Castrogonian delegation squirming in their seats? Or -- as is more likely -- of their empty seats, since they probably boycotted the speech?
Speculations aside, it is nonetheless infuriating to observe that after hearing or reading this chilling testimony no one seems to be taking steps to have the Castronoids removed from this Council.
From the Directorio Democratico Cubano, translation via Capitol Hill Cubans:
The Speech the Castro Regime Did Not Want Anyone to Hear
United Nations Human Rights Council
September 15, 2014
My name is Juan Carlos González Leiva. I've spent 20 years as a blind lawyer defending human rights, suffering beatings, arbitrary arrests and organized mobs. From March 4, 2002 to April 26, 2004, I was detained in the Police Center of Pedernales, Holguín, without trial, for celebrating a congress about human rights. There, they systematically sprayed chemical substances over me that burned my skin and occasioned hallucinations, strong headaches and allergies.
I was confined without access to the press, telephone, correspondence, or religious assistance. Murderous prisoners threatened me and prevented me from sleeping night and day. In my cell were left exposed electric cables with current.
Human rights defenders in my country are victims of a constant policy of repression.
For example: In 2014 I was beaten together with 10 activists in the street. Agents dislocated my left leg and right shoulder and I lost consciousness when they applied a choke hold. Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera were arrested, beaten and transferred to the local police headquarters where Antúnez was placed in a choke hold losing consciousness several times and was injected by state security agents with an unknown substance. His home was invaded and sacked.
Other activists arbitrarily detained and beaten were: José Daniel Ferrer García, Yusmila Reina Ferrera, Geobanis Izaguirre Hernández and Ernesto Ortiz Betancourt.
I ask the United Nations protection for me and all the activists inside Cuba because soon I will return to my country to continue defending human rights.
(Courtesy of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.)
Juan Cristobal Nagel in Caracas Chronicles:
Yesterday we learned – via the increasingly indispensable Marianna Párraga – that PDVSA is selling the refinery it owns in the US Virgin Islands. This comes on the heels of the almost certain sale of Citgo, as well as other assets overseas.
Whether the reason for these privatizations is a lack of cash, a way of escaping from the claws of justice, or a little bit of both is not what’s important. The obscurity with which these transactions are being carried out is simply outrageous – no due process, no public discussion on the matter, no public tenders … nothing.
Remember, the people in charge now are the same people who tore their garments when CANTV and Viasa were privatized via an immaculate public tender process back in the early 90s.
As this latest scandal continues to unfold, and we are forced to learn about it via international news agencies, over and over again one name keeps propping up: the investment firm Lazard.
Who are these guys? Well, they are an investment bank. Apparently the connection to PDVSA is via one Matthieu Pigasse, high-end financial celebrity and a ranking member of the caviar gauche, the high society French left wing. Pigasse has been involved with both the Argentine and the Ecuadorean government debt negotiations, and is a frequent guest of both Presidents. His firm was also involved in making millions off of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.
This company is slimier than a plate of escargots, but you don’t have to trust me on that – you can read it in the tell-all book!
In all of the stories about Lazard’s involvement with PDVSA, not once has the term “public tender” come up. How did Lazard end up as the underwriters to the fleecing of Venezuela? How much commission are they charging? Who ever said they were the right firm for the job? Hell, not even chavistas like them! Even Jorge Giordani warned us about the mysterious “French” consultants.
As the old saying goes, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a French investment banking firm at the center of a massive web of corruption.
I have to hand it to the Lazard folks. Many people have gutted Venezuela in the last few years, and a few lucky ones continue gutting it, right to the last drop. But few are doing it so surreptitiously and so stylishly as you guys.
As China continues to cozy up to Castrogonia and its Latrine American cartel, further proof emerges of espionage-related dirty deals.
Both China and Russia see Castrogonia as a useful outpost for their expansionism.
The latest Chinese-Castronoid hijinks involve electronic equipment and a violation of the "Embargo."
But no one should expect the current U.S. government to increase sanctions for such venial sins when far greater sins elsewhere around the globe are ignored.
Let's see what kind of lame reprimand this latest provocation elicits from Washington.
From the Washington Free Beacon:
Chinese Telecom Firm With Military Links Ships U.S. Equipment to Cuba
Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company linked to the People’s Liberation Army provided U.S.-origin equipment to Cuba in apparent violation of U.S. economic sanctions on the communist-ruled island.
U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports said the equipment included U.S.-made modems, routers, and switches for telecommunications networks.
The transfer took place within the past two months and was reported by the U.S. Southern Command, the military command with responsibility for Latin and South America in internal channels, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
One official said the transfer violated U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Cuba and that the transfer is under investigation by the Commerce Department....
....Huawei, a global network equipment manufacturer based in Shenzhen, China, has been identified by the Pentagon in reports to Congress as one of several companies that maintain close ties to the People's Liberation Army.
Along with two other firms, Huawei, “with their ties to the [Chinese] government and PLA entities, pose potential challenges in the blurring lines between commercial and government/military-associated entities,” the 2012 report said.
Huawei also was identified by the U.S. government as posing a cyber espionage risk. A House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report in 2012 warned U.S. businesses not to use equipment made by Huawei and another firm, ZTE, over concerns the gear can be used by China’s government to conduct cyber espionage.
Whole story HERE.
The same wondrous and miraculous healthcare system in Cuba that is consistently crippled by third-world epidemics like dengue and cholera is now infecting their colony Venezuela. And just like Cuba, they are denying anything is wrong in Venezuela.
Frances Martel in Breitbart:
Venezuelan Government Dismisses Existence of Deadly Illness
An apparent viral disease causing fever and skin rashes has taken the lives of ten in Venezuela, according to hospital officials. While doctors have ruled out both Ebola and Chikungunya fever, they remain stumped as to what is causing the illness.
According to El Universal, the nation's largest newspaper, the virus has hit hardest in the northern state of Aragua, where eight people died last week. Maracay's Central Hospital in the region declared a "state of alarm," noting that the disease could be either viral or bacterial, but tests have not confirmed its identity. Of the initial eight victims, half were children, all who died less than 72 hours after being admitted to the hospital. One of the ten victims died not in Aragua, but in the capital, Caracas.
All had similar symptoms: fever, "general discomfort," and rashes. Local10 news also described the symptoms, quoting Venezuelan medical officials, as: "symptoms of fever and spots on the skin, and then produces large blisters and internal and external bleeding... then, very quickly, patients suffer from respiratory failure, liver failure and kidney failure."
While the fever and rashes caused many to be concerned that the west African Ebola virus had somehow spread to South America, doctors ruled out the possibility through testing.
Complicating matters more, the government of Venezuela is denying the existence of the illness in its entirety. Governor of Aragua Tareck al Aissami, along with President Nicolás Maduro's press secretary, Delcy Rodríguez, have referred to the disease as a "media disinformation campaign" used to "dishearten the people," according to BBC. Another government spokesperson described the disease as a "disinformation and terrorism campaign," refusing to acknowledge medical professionals' calls for further investigation.
Doctors have demanded the government acknowledge their alarm on the situation. Douglas León Natera, the president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, described the situation as "total alarm" and held the government directly responsible: "there is absolute silence on the part of sanitation authorities of the state, which I understand to mean they know absolutely nothing, because the people in charge of these offices are not doctors and do not know about public health."
Venezuela's socialist government has left it bereft of many basic hospital needs, creating a state in which any public health disaster would be an existential threat to the government's health care system. Heavily dependent on Cuba's fledgling medical program for personnel, Venezuelans' lack of everything from latex gloves to hospital gowns has created a surge in emergency procedures like amputations, and debts with drug companies have made it increasingly difficult to acquire basic medicines.