Friday, September 15, 2006

Common Sense

When common sense triumphs over ideology, the people win. Sadly, this is not possible in the highly charged atmosphere of US politics under the Bush regime. The "debate" on stem cells is a perfect example. Losing sight of the miracles that process could achieve, opponents hypocritically scream about the right of embryos while the living die and they sanction government murder in the death chamber.

Thankfully, in "less developed" countries needing the guidance of Papa Bush, common sense can win over ideology. The debate that "this is what you need, but you can't have it because I say it is wrong" thankfully did not materialize in a recent tragedy in Nicaragua.

In the poor northern area of Nicaragua, home brewing of alcohol or "moonshining" by groups is very common. The people can not afford bottled liquor, even though to us gringos Nicaraguan liquor is dirt cheap. On September 3rd, a large batch, or possibly several batches of moonshine was tainted with methanol. Methanol, a toxic industrial alcohol often used in antifreeze, can cause blindness and death even in small amounts. Bootleggers sometimes add it to strengthen their illegal brew. So far 45 have died and over 600 are deathly ill, overwhelming Nicaragua's fragile health system.

The Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) has done all it could to treat the victims and international aid has poured in.

In a bold and common sense move, MINSA's Director Margarita Gurdián has authorized an exchange program. People who have some of the illegal, potentially lethal liquor can exchange it for bottled, government inspected liquor, no questions asked.

"It is a special plan designed to eliminate methanol in the departments of Leon and Chinandega. Personally, I do not want to give this liquor, because it is not the function of Minsa to distribute liquor, but we want to safeguard the life of the possible users of this methanol tainted liquor" stated minister Gurdián.

When the AIDS crisis hit or when teen pregnancy rates rose in the US, instead of distributing condoms, birth control and safe sex material, the government cried "stop fucking"! Like that is going to happen. Minister Gurdián knew that people were going to drink and likely to continue drinking despite warnings. "Stop drinking, it is a sin" will fall on deaf ears and more would die. She took bold action. The time for education and Alcoholics Anonymous is for later.

So refreshing to see common sense in a government, instead of hypocritical morality.

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