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June 19, 2019 by Dr. Kyle Varner in Policy

Recently, Dr. Varner sat down with Franklin Camargo in Miami. Franklin is a Venezuelan refugee who just narrowly escaped the tyranny of Nicolas Maduro’s communist regime and the violence that continues to engulf the country.

Born and raised in the South American country, Franklin was a third-year medical student there. Then he had to flee for his life.

Franklin shared his harrowing story with Dr. Varner as well as insights about the state of affairs in the country. The two conversed in Spanish and we had it translated into English for you. This is Part 1 of 2…

Be sure to check back here Thursday when we post the rest of this revealing one-on-one with Franklin and Dr. Varner.

The Interview: Part 1

Dr. Varner:

Thank you for this interview, Franklin. Tell me what happened that took you to Miami as a refugee while you were a medical student in Venezuela.

Franklin:

Sure. Well, around the time I turned 19, I started a political life opposing the communist regime currently in power in my country, under Nicolas Maduro. And also started my medical degree, which was always a dream to me. On January 25, two days after Juan Guaido was sworn in as the interim Constitutional President of the Republic, under article 233 of our Constitution, the political climate grew strong at my university, Universidad Experimental de Los Llanos Centrales- Rómulo Gallegos- Universidad Experimental.

The university authorities are named by the local governor, who is a leftist and intimately involved with Nicolás Maduro. Therefore, they constantly try to indoctrinate us with Marxists and Chavistas ideals. I, opposing the regime, in every space and place, specifically that day as well, January 25, was expelled from my university…from my faculty, and a series of threats endangered my life.

Dr. Varner:

Please tell me about the situation of you speaking out against the regime and what happened after.

Franklin:

Yes. Specifically, I spoke against Nicolas Maduro’s regime and in favor of

Juan Guaido being sworn as an interim president, on January 25. That bothered two authorities in the university, specifically Angel Mesa, he’s a professor, director of physiopathology, and coordinator of hospital shifts; and Lucio Diaz Ortiz, the dean, who isn’t a licensed doctor in Venezuela, and breaks the university rules by working as a dean.

They expelled me from the university, arguing that such a benefit, like that of studying in a public university financed by the regime, but really financed by the citizens through imposed taxes… well, they said I couldn’t graduate from this university. I couldn’t even study, nor become a doctor in the country…in my country, and threatened me with calling the security forces in Venezuela.

The security forces, without exception, are under Nicolas Maduro’s control. On top of that, they use collective paramilitary groups –civilians armed by them, specifically by them– so that they can attack us directly.

My life was at risk for being in opposition to Nicolas Maduro’s regime and for always promoting ideals of individual freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom.

Dr. Varner:

That’s something common with leftist regimes, they always try to use educational institutions as a way to indoctrinate and as a way to get more and more power.

And that also has a big global history, but we’re also seeing it here, with leftists who take positions of power within universities and are trying to silence those on the right or libertarians.

That’s clear here, but within the context of a liberal democracy, that they are trying to silence us because their ideology is extremely intolerant.

But in Venezuela, they have different…it’s different, they have more power.

Tell me about their ideological power over this university and about the dean and the regime.

Franklin:

It’s totalitarianism spread into any social activity. They’ve managed to politicize any individual action so that we have to, or need to depend on them. In fact, they’ve tried to change every aspect of our country so that their name is seen on everything. They’ve changed our country’s name which previously was the Republic of Venezuela, and now it’s called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

They’ve changed the flag by adding a star, they’ve changed the coat of arms by changing the horse’s place. Ultimately, this is a strategy they have –to modify absolutely everything.

It could even be within their objectives to change the national anthem as well as the school system. They have an interest and goal of collectivizing the individual minds through education, which, by the way, it’s the most effective way for totalitarian regimes to control us. Lucio Diaz Ortiz, the dean, during those last days of January, was promoting that in Venezuela, doctors must swear a socialist oath and not a Hippocratic Oath, which is a public and mandatory tradition.

Dr. Varner:

This dean of the medical school, who was never a student himself, never saw a patient because he’s not a doctor. He’s someone political, right?

Franklin:

Yes, he works as a dean purely for political means. He’s probably never opened an anatomy book in his life. However, he works as a dean for the school, for the university.

In fact, among all the horrible things he managed to say during those days, because those were days of constant indoctrination, by promoting a master class, which wasn’t a master class, it didn’t address medicine, only politics with the intent of indoctrination. Not even to exchange ideas or debate, or to promote discernment. It was only to control our minds and the knowledge we could acquire and should be acquired in a faculty.

He said that the doctors in Venezuela who don’t live in optimal conditions, that is due to their laziness or because they’re bad doctors, which is totally false. In Venezuela, we’re all in a terrible economic and social situation, because there’s a completely calculated economic collapse, caused by them.

To make a point, currently, the minimum wage in Venezuela is of 18 thousand bolivares, which equals less than four dollars, since a dollar in Venezuela is almost six thousand bolivares. In other words, a doctor doesn’t earn more than the minimum wage.

I have a lot of professors who didn’t have a car, a motorcycle, not even a bicycle. They had to use public transportation on a highly deficient bus, very deficient, in less than optimal conditions, to get from one point to another. They can’t even manage to earn a salary from the university. So, one of the ways the left stays in power in Venezuela is by enslaving us in every possible way, including economically, of course.

Dr. Varner:

What happened after you were expelled?

Franklin:

In the time and place when I got expelled, we were in a lecture with a lot of students. Not only those in my cohort but many more, since they were precisely trying to get us all in the biggest room, to talk about politics.

When they heard me talking politics, they took me to the dean’s office, and the dean threatens to call the security forces if I don’t walk away. At that moment I immediately went to the place I used to [call home], and I was able to see, through social media, that the students who witnessed that, I knew many of them, some I didn’t; they started to spread the news.

I do think that’s because of the political climate in Venezuela, the sentiment of fighting for freedom, due to what had happened three days prior with Juan Guaido, gave that energy to my classmates, to support me through social media, posting my pictures, narrating what had happened. This, in a way, also made it worse.

As this situation started to get more notoriety among the student body, I started to get calls from the student group linked with the current regime in Venezuela, linked with the dean and the teacher…with the authorities with whom I also clashed with.

They argued that I was a political agent for Maria Corina Machado, trying to destabilize the university. They started with threats, saying stuff, even spreading lies. Saying that I wanted to burn the school, burn teachers, burn students, the facilities, and destabilize the faculty.

Which are serious lies since all the security and justice organizations are in hands of the dictatorship, in the hands of the tyranny of Nicolas Maduro.

Therefore, they could have used any mechanism to try and pressure me or violate my physical integrity in one way or another. At times, there were rumors that they wanted to put me in jail. I got this information through two people. Those were extremely difficult moments but… for that I had to be extremely cautious.

Dr. Varner:

Yes. So, you left Venezuela and came here to Miami. And now, what’s your appreciation of the differences between both countries?

Franklin:

Every aspect is different. From walking into a supermarket, or even from the moment I set foot in Miami’s international airport, I could observe that things were done very differently here. I was surprised by cars because, in Venezuela, it’s difficult to see a recent car that was made after 2010, 2011. Probably, most cars were made between 2000 and 2010. Many cars… cars from the 90s and the 80s. Which, by the way, people don’t even have the purchasing power to change their tires, the motor oil. Being able to ride in an Uber, and watch the cars around me for a moment, I felt as if I were in a futuristic scenario because most Americans probably take for granted seeing new cars.

Nevertheless, for me was a great experience to see so many cars that I had never seen before. That also translates to supermarkets. Seeing all the existing varieties of milk: almonds, organic, skimmed, of every size. That applies to every food category. Fruits as well. There are organic fruits and fruits with different prices, a variety that also exists thanks to the freedom of commerce that exists in foods, and with some small regulations which could be tweaked to give more economic freedom than the one that already exists in this country.

Regardless, the change is totally huge from one country to the other, between one system to the other one. This is a country that is made so that individuals can be free and follow the pursuit of their happiness which, also, is a constitutional right since 1776, and Americans should work to preserve these freedoms and for…Besides the small ones, some bigger than others, regulations, controls, and obstacles which have been created by some bureaucratic politicians, need to be eliminated so that this country can be even more free.

Dr. Varner:

What’s really impressive is that a lot of the situation in Venezuela motivated by the socialist revolution, was to guarantee certain things to the people: food, education, health. But now we find there’s no food, there’s almost no health system.

And universities, when they exist, they aren’t houses of study, they are houses of indoctrination, they are houses… they are sources of political support for the regime and they have destroyed the country in trying to make it better.

Franklin:

Absolutely, Kyle. They, in the name of the rights that, by the way, they have pulled out a series of rights out of their imaginations. Nonexistent rights, rights such as guaranteeing every service and need that we all have as humans. And precisely that makes evident that the state can’t guarantee services to its citizens. It can’t guarantee dignified housing, it can’t guarantee food, it can’t guarantee education for everyone, because precisely, it’s not the state’s duty or work.

Also, it’s not economically or socially viable. In the USA and in the constitution of 1776, three rights were declared as fundamental: The right to live, the right to freedom and to the pursuit of happiness.

The state doesn’t give guarantees. You can look for happiness, Kyle, but the state won’t deliver it on a silver platter. Rather, through knowledge, effort and work –that’s who will get it.

And that’s something I promoted in Venezuela during my time there. When Nicolas Maduro loses his place in Venezuela someday, there must be a complete legal transformation, of the alleged rights, like guarantees of culture and the view on labor that they have.

Dr. Varner:

This is interesting because here in the USA we have a food guarantee.

It’s not a guarantee from the government, but it’s a guarantee of the free market. Food is very cheap here, you can see obese people walking in the streets and we have problems, but we don’t have that kind of problem.

Franklin:

Correct. It’s something I’ve mentioned before. I’ve watched homeless people fatter than myself, obese even, and that makes it clear that in the USA there’s really a guarantee of food, which isn’t given by Donald Trump, wasn’t given by Obama, nor by the government,rather by the freedom, the freedom of the individuals to work, and by the freedom of enterprise for entrepreneurial people.

Adam Smith said that it’s not out of the butcher’s generosity that you have meat on your table; it’s because they perceived a personal benefit, in a rational way and you do too.

You work so you can survive because individuals can’t survive automatically, not like probably plants do, but it’s precisely in this search of personal interest, and rational interests, that the individuals survive; not due to the guaranteed of a politician in turn, who makes impossible promises in exchange for a vote.

And for them to eternally remain in power.

Dr. Varner:

It’s interesting, here in the USA we have a company called McDonald’s, which you also now have in Venezuela. Here, I see McDonald’s as a shitty place. I’d never walk in. They have food which I consider low-quality and unhealthy. But tell me about McDonald’s in Venezuela…

Franklin:

McDonald’s is probably one of the most elitist places in Venezuela, because of its price and how difficult it is for an average Venezuelan to eat in this chain restaurant.

To mention an example, in Venezuela, we don’t have the Big Mac because, if I remember correctly, the required cheese to make a Big Mac can’t make it into Venezuela, therefore the name and burger change. But, according to… your question, to give you a specific reply, in Venezuela, some people might not like McDonald’s taste or quality, but it’s difficult to obtain, it’s not for most Venezuelans, it’s for a minority. I could take a girl I like on a first date at McDonald’s and it wouldn’t be frowned upon. But rather, ‘Wow. He’s taking me to McDonald’s. He’s making a great effort from his job, his time, his money, to be able to take me for a hamburger at McDonald’s.’

Dr. Varner:

Here, that’d be a lack of respect.

Franklin:

A horrible first date. That wouldn’t happen in Venezuela. McDonald’s, Burger King and other chain restaurants are perceived differently here. And in Venezuela, they have an even worse quality, because the products are scarce and they don’t follow the same procedures. But it’s not seen from the same perspective as Americans.

Dr. Varner:

Here, you can go to a McDonald’s and buy dinner for the value of 15 minutes of work with minimum wage. If you go to Venezuela, it’d be more than six weeks, more than a month and a half of minimum wage, to dine at McDonald’s.

Franklin:

That’s right. To give you an idea, as I mentioned at the beginning, the minimum wage in Venezuela is 18 thousand bolivares, which is less than four dollars. You don’t have the capacity to eat with another person, your partner, your girlfriend, for a minimum wage in McDonald’s. There is no way, it’s totally impossible. It’s a deterioration of the purchasing power of Venezuelans, due to the induced inflation, in no way accidental, rather completely provoked by Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Parting from the deterioration of Venezuelans’ pockets, they want to control it and make everyone dependent on the state.

Dr. Varner:

Yes. Inflation is one of the worst taxes because people don’t understand they are paying a tax. Simple money loses its value and Venezuela has lost so much value that I understand that now you can’t even use cash.

Franklin:

That’s right. Two things happen: the first thing is that cash…printing bills is not-viable for the Central Bank of Venezuela, because of its lack of value. In other words, printing money is more expensive than its own value. The bill with the highest value is 500 soberanos, which is equivalent to less than a dime and it’s the biggest bill.

Therefore, printing cash is more expensive than… than what it’s worth. To illustrate, in Venezuela it’s cheaper to use a bill as a napkin while eating, or wiping your hands with them, than buying paper napkins, it’s cheaper than that. And, of course, there’s a big… a big interest in stopping cash transactions in Venezuela, this is of great interest for Nicolas Maduro’s regime, so that all transactions are electronic and they can watch and control them.

More than 90 percent of transactions within Venezuela are electronic because there’s a lack of paper money and it’s absolutely worthless.

Franklin:

They aren’t used to using ATMs to get cash. First, because they are non-existent. And second, because if there’s one, the average citizen can’t do anything with 500 soberanos as the biggest denomination, because it’s worthless.

They use ATMs as a means to be able to know their bank account balance because maybe they don’t have access to do it in their own homes, maybe because they don’t have electricity because they don’t have internet because they don’t have a capable phone.

Dr. Varner:

And this system of such a controlled economy, forcing everyone to do things electronically, under the government’s eye. It’s interesting because I understand that was the first thing Nicolas Maduro did against Juan Guaido blocking his bank accounts, right?

And it’s a way for a tyrannical regime of being able to apply pressure in ways that don’t seem violent. They are violent but don’t really look it.

If through a computer, the regime can easily decide to block you from finances. They have an amount of power that no other dictatorship had ever used 20 or 30 years ago.

Franklin:

Correct. They have an absolute power that spreads to every activity, even social media.

Whenever Nicolas Maduro’s regime wishes to block Twitter, Facebook, YouTube; they do it and have done it in the past. Or, if they wish to remove a TV channel, they do it whenever they want. For example, we don’t have CNN in Venezuela, for some years now.

There’s no channel that, I won’t even say that supports the Venezuelan opposition, but there’s no channel that is impartial and one that simply broadcasts news about what is going on in Venezuela.

The media are completely controlled in Venezuela, and social media as well. The regime blocks them anytime they want and that also translates to Venezuelans’ individual banking.

They can decide to block any Venezuelan bank account which was the case with Juan Guaido. They blocked his bank account, stopping him from making any transactions. Because most banks in Venezuela are in the hands of the Maduro regime.

Maduro. And ‘private banks,’ are controlled by Nicolas Maduro’s regime, and any decision he wants to make, he can make it, disregarding any private institution, just to achieve his goal.

Dr. Varner:

It does seem like hell, and they’ve done this by trying to guarantee several things to people.

This information is intended to help readers be more informed about their health options when speaking with a professional, but it should not be used alone to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Be sure to speak to a qualified doctor before taking any action to make sure that your choices reflect your actual health situation.

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