Venezuela, some people think it is a socialist paradise others see it as simply another state capitalist regime. Below are excerpts from a series of reports on Venezuela. My own conclusion is that the coverage of events in Venezuela depend a lot on the perspective of the media source reporting. I won’t even go into the distortions presented by establishment media like NPR, the views presented here, the first from a Venezuelan government source, the second and third from sympathetic sources and the last from a critical perspective of the anarchist left. Not having been to Venezuela I cannot say much about the situation there, but it seems that for the average worker things are improving. But for the critical thinker, this may not be the paradise it seems.
Venezuela in English
News and information from Venezuelan sources and voices
Venezuela to Achieve Millennium Development Goals
Venezuela is making great efforts to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which were discussed this week at the UN General Assambly in New York. In the past decade, the South American nation has eliminated illiteracy, cut extreme poverty in half, enrolled more children in school, reduced infant mortality and controlled the spread of HIV/AIDS, announced Jorge Valero, the Venezuelan permanent representative to the UN, on Tuesday.
Venezuela’s poverty rate fell from 49% to around 24% in late 2009, extreme poverty was reduced in half between 2003 and 2009 and the country’s unemployment rate fell from 15% in 1998 to 6.6% in 2009.
In 2005, Venezuela was declared a territory free of illiteracy by UNESCO.
Venezuela is free from the “tyranny” of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), affirmed Valero, noting that the country utilizes state policies to “promote independent and autonomous development”.
T/ Correo del Orinoco International
Venezuela on Track to Meet UN Millennium Goals
By Chris Carlson – Venezuelanalysis.com
Mérida, October 18, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)- Thanks to the implementation of socially-oriented policies, Venezuela is one of the countries most likely to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2015, government officials announced yesterday. They also pointed to a reduction in unemployment and strong economic growth projected for 2007 as indicators of the success of government policies.
Venezuelan Minister of Education Adán Chavez explained that in terms of human development, which includes health, education, and per capita income, Venezuela has seen significant progress since the year 2001. In terms of reducing poverty, Chavez assured that Venezuela would meet the Millennium Goals before the year 2015.
The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a blueprint of eight development goals agreed on by the 192 United Nations member states to achieve by the year 2015. The goals focus on eradicating poverty and providing universal primary education and health care to all people, as well as ensuring environmental sustainability.
The minister also pointed to a significant decrease in the inflation rate and a decrease in unemployment for the month of September to 8.3 percent. According to the National Institute of Statistics, unemployment is down from 9.5 percent in September of 2006, meaning an increase of nearly 140,000 people employed in the formal sector over the last year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also released numbers this week for 2007 and 2008, placing Venezuela as the country with the highest growth in Latin America. The IMF put the GDP growth rate for Venezuela this year at 8 percent, above Argentina (7.5 percent), Peru (7 percent), Colombia (6.6 percent), Chile (5.9 percent), Brazil (4.4 percent), and Mexico (2.9 percent).
From Terra Viva
MILLENNIUM GOALS-VENEZUELA :
ASSESSMENT OF PROGRESS SPARKS CONTROVERSY
By Humberto Márquez
CARACAS, Sep 8 (IPS) - Not even the debate on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specific poverty reduction targets adopted by the international community in 2000, has escaped the political polarisation that divides Venezuela between the supporters and detractors of President Hugo Chávez.
The government is upset that in its assessment of Venezuela’s progress towards the MDGs, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) cited the 2002 infant mortality rate.
Education Minister Aristóbulo Istúriz, the head of the ministerial cabinet’s social team, noted that the 2002 infant mortality rate of 17.3 per 1,000 live births was cited “without mentioning the political events that had an impact on that statistic.”
In April 2002, Chávez was removed from office for two days by a short-lived coup d’etat, and in December of that year, the opposition movement began a two-month general strike that brought the oil industry - the backbone of the Venezuelan economy - to its knees and caused economic losses of more than 10 billion dollars.
They noted that in the past two years, 17 million of Venezuela’s 26 million people have benefited from the “Barrio Adentro” (Into the Neighbourhood) programme that has brought primary health care, provided by 15,000 Cuban doctors, and the free delivery of 120 different medicines to poor urban and rural areas.
With respect to the first MDG, halving the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day, ECLAC reported that Argentina, with 16.9 percent extreme poverty in 2004 (compared to 8.2 percent in 1990), and Venezuela (22.2 percent in 2004 compared to 14.6 percent in 1990) are lagging behind in Latin America.
Istúriz and Armada protested to ECLAC Executive Secretary José Luis Machinea that the report was “biased” and did not reflect the real situation in the country, and that it “has begun to be used by third parties as part of the smear campaign” against the government.
Istúriz said “The report is based on statistics that do not take into account the ‘missions’,” the government’s name for the social programmes implemented in the past two years.
ECLAC officials admitted that its report, “The Millennium Development Goals in the Context of Latin America and the Caribbean”, was based on statistics from 2003 or earlier, which were used to formulate projections for 2005, said Venezuelan officials.
Venezuela: Vetelca - the story of the first ever Bolivarian factory
This report originally appears in issue #57 of Venezuelan anarchist newspaper El Libertario. It is a detailed examination of the events behind the mobile telephone manufacturer Vetelca.
On 10th May, 2009, President Hugo Chávez appeared on national television from the El Tigre region of Barinas state in order to announce to the nation the availability of a mobile telephone made under the supervision of the Bolivarian government.
China is the business partner of the Bolivarian state in the public-private partnership company, Venezolana de Telecomunicaciones (Vetelca), established in the free economic zone of Paraguaná, Falcón state, in January 2009. Official reports tell us that production was started by “a total of 140 workers, 80% of which are women who live in the zone and who were chosen by various local community councils to work in the plant”. Their first objective is to deliver 10,000 units to Movilnet [the state-owned telecommunications company - translator], to be sold from Mothers’ Day onwards, as President Chávez had promised.
The workers’ version
Levy Revilla Toyo (is) one of 56 workers (of both sexes) who were sacked from the factory.
On 1 May – the international day of the worker – assembly of Los Vergatorios began. “We had to work into the small hours of the night,” Revilla testifies. “Everything was very poorly organised, which led to many of my workmates fainting and passing out due to hunger and difficulties with transportation”.
However, the workers were rewarded with a productivity bonus and – with the models ready in just 10 days - the satisfaction of having honoured the President’s word. (W)orkers started to elect ”delegados de prevención” [roughly equivalent to health & safety representatives in the UK – trans.], despite the diverse, destructive obstacles placed in front of them by the board of directors.
On 7 July, eight Vetelca workers were sacked, including all three ”delegados” that had been elected via workers’ assembly. The fired workers were resolute in the necessity of defending their rights; however, when they visited the factory in order to corroborate their complaints, they were informed of the following: “the workers [here] are students, and their salary isn’t a salary but a maintenance stipend; [moreover] said workers don’t have an organisational structure”. Later, management would request the presence of the National Guard onsite, while accusing the sacked workers – in terms which by now are all too familiar – of being counter-revolutionaries.
The bureaucrats’ version
On 29 July, 2009, Jesse Chacón, Science and Technology Minister, visited the Vetelca factory in an attempt to calm winds of discontent amongst its personnel. The official press release notes…that this is “a socialist model of production, with ‘integrated’ workers who rotate posts on a daily basis, therefore getting to know every stage of assembly and getting to understand the plant’s operations in their totality. Moreover, they participate in the planning of production, in stark contrast to the capitalist model.”
Carlos Audrines, Vetelca President…explained that Vetelca is not registered as a company, and it is for this reason that there are no contracts. Once this is in place and Vetelca is granted company status, the next stage will be to consolidate a security department, ‘since the word ‘union’ does not fit within a socialist company, because this would contradict the principle in which we are all equal. Within a socialist system there is no need for a union,’ Aubrines added.”
As for Vetelca, despite its grandiose descriptions by high up Bolivarian functionaries, it is but a crude outsourcing operation which serves the purposes of the mobile phone company of the Venezuelan state. Audrines himself confirms this in an interview: “Vetelca’s sole purpose is to satisfy the product demands of Movilnet”. Movilnet determines the quantity of telephones to be assembled, their deadline and their model name at retail level, three decisions in which the workers – or, in the Minister’s words, the salaried volunteers - have no role.
Finally, Audrines’ admission that Vetelca won’t allow union organisation - “due to it being contrary to socialism” – speaks for itself.”