By Simón Rodríguez
Photo credit: Extracted from Maduro’s Twitter account.
While the international scientific community invests significant efforts and resources into developing an effective treatment for COVID-19, the Venezuelan government has announced it has the cure. Actually it’s the fourth time Maduro claims to have a treatment for the virus that has so far claimed the lives of almost 2.5 million people and affected more than a hundred million people globally.
The first time, on March 10, Maduro claimed that Interferon Alfa2B, a drug used for the treatment of dengue and produced by the Cuban pharmacological industry, was in fact a cure for COVID-19. Unfortunately for the world, it wasn’t.
Less than two weeks later, Maduro announced the first treatment developed by chavismo. In circus master style, Maduro presented a mix of spices and natural ingredients put together by a self-styled “nanotechnologist”, Sirio Quintero, actually a chavista with a degree in philosophy from a Catholic private Venezuelan university. Quintero is an anti-vaccine fanatic and claims SARS-CoV-2 is both a bacteria and a parasite created in laboratories. He also claims to have developed a cure for cancer based on natural ingredients. Maduro went into a frenzy on March 23, celebrating Quintero’s “achievement” and claiming he was taking the brew to prevent infection. Twitter erased Maduro’s promotion of Quintero’s “work”. Maduro himself forgot about the “treatment” soon afterwards.
Then, on October 25, Maduro announced a new breakthrough of chavista science. A molecule called DR-10 discovered in the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC) proved to be effective at inhibiting the in vitro reproduction of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
This year, on January 24, Maduro announced that a medicine had been developed and would be massively produced “for the world”. Holding a small container filled with a yellow liquid, Maduro hailed the properties of Carvativir, the medicine he described as “the miraculous droplets of Jose Gregorio Hernandez” (a Catholic doctor who is worshipped as a saint by some in Venezuela). The private Venezuelan laboratory that will produce the miraculous droplets was first registered as an automobile importing company, while the researchers who developed the yellow liquid are two chavistas: one of them was jailed for corruption in the oil industry and the other one is a businessman linked to deals with the Venezuelan state, and was best known for owning a nightclub in Margarita island, formerly attractive for international tourism.
Charlatanism offers big opportunities for business in capitalism, but now more than ever in Venezuela. With a macabre and hilarious mix, this story of official pseudoscience in a dictatorial regime, reminiscent of Stalinism and Lysenkoism, has as its backdrop the destruction of actual scientific institutions and public universities in Venezuela by chavismo’s policies.
Venezuelans don’t have any guarantee of access to COVID-19 vaccines, while the real number of people who have contracted it or died from it remains a mystery, due to the government’s persecution of health workers and journalists who have denounced cases that are not officially registered. Ultimately, Maduro announces fake medicines as part of his policy of denying health care to the Venezuelan people.