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Karen Vazquez, Cuban Healthcare

SiCKO: Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the celluloid truth

By Judi McLeod

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Don't hold your breath waiting for the U.S. Treasury Department to charge filmmaker Michael Moore with treason for a trip to Cuba that may have violated a U.S. embargo. In a country where both Democrats and Republicans work for amnesty, treason flew out the window with Benedict Arnold.

Moore, who admits high hopes that his documentary SiCKO will shape the debate ahead of the 2008 presidential election, is a big player in the game called politics.

SiCKO was first screened in a heavily Republican area in Moore's home state as a fundraiser for the Antrim County Democratic Party.

As a backup against the Treasury Department, Moore stashed a copy of the documentary in London, Ontario, close to the town where he has family roots.

Moore's true crime against America is a crime against the little guy in a "documentary" that builds false hopes and steers people needing medical attention in the wrong direction.

Ignored by SiCKO are true-life stories like the one about Karen Vazquez. Eight-year-old Cuban girl, Karen Vazquez once faced certain death, but lives happily somewhere in Fidel Castro's Cuba today because Maryland residents saved her life.

To save Karen, it took an American hospital and four doctors. That's not to mention a dedicated social worker, a minister, three charities and many new Hispanic friends in America.

In short, the American medical system saved Karen Vazquez after the Cuban medical system tried and didn't.

Karen's story began with a bright, energetic Grade 2 student whose family and friends were proud that she was a dancer at the national theatre in Havana.

Mysteriously Karen's health started to deteriorate. Noticeable symptoms included dramatic abdomen weight gain and a face so puffy her schoolmates openly made fun of her.

Rather than playing with friends or dancing in Havana, the outgoing little girl now tearfully refused to leave her mother's side.

As Karen's symptoms grew worse, her parents took her from one doctor to another and their daughter was seen by six hospitals.

There was no Michael Moore camera documenting the living nightmare for Karen's family, who had to sell off most of their worldly possessions to pay for medicine and for travel doctor to doctor,

"In the spring of 1995, we started to write letters," Karen's father told The Sun (Baltimore).

The father wrote to the Cuban government, President Fidel Castro's brother Raul, the Red Cross, other doctors and other hospitals.

Letters went unanswered or brought back vague and discouraging responses.

Karen's story took a turn for the better when Dr. Karen M. Armour, a Sinai pediatric endocrinologist, took an interest in the case. Dr. Armour was able to get the cooperation of two Baltimore non-profit agencies to help.

The non-profit organizations agreed to pay for the Vazquezes to fly to and stay in Baltimore.

Having sold most everything they had to find a cure for their beloved daughter, the family sold their air conditioner to buy clothes for the trip to Baltimore.

In the end, the Sinai doctors operated on Karen, removing a tumor, determined later to be benign.

The little girl's moon face subsided to normal and the youngster gradually got her energy back.

So grateful was her father that he thanked George Washington for starting "a great nation under God's protection".

He urged Americans to remember what Washington said: "Stay united, be Americans."

Then there's 6-year-old Cuban girl Jahaira Valdez Delgato, who had surgery to fix a heart condition similar to the one that killed her younger brother after an organization raised money for her to come to the United States.

And those are only two stories, chosen at random that bear out the positive side of the American health system; stories bypassed by a filmmaker who starts off investigations tailor made to prove a pre-conceived conclusion.

According to the New York Post, "Three Ground Zero volunteers who went to Cuba with filmmaker Michael Moore for free medical help got lots of hugs, round-the-clock tests and some needed treatment, but they came back with most of the same problems--and some new ones." (May 20,2007).

One of the countries Moore used, as a counterpoint in SiCKO is Canada, where people requiring surgery die on long waiting lists.

The Cuban government says that SiCKO will allow the world to see "the greatness of its health system".

There's no money for medicine in Havana, something hugs can't hide Cuba's health care system sometimes suffers financial ills so pressing that hospital patients must supply their own food and sheets.

Although SiCKO doesn't open nationally in the U.S. until June 29, thousands of bootleg copies were available on the Internet.

Meanwhile Cuba's "humane" health care system will be promoted in a film destined to rake in millions at the box office.

Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the celluloid truth.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]

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