The recognition by the USA of the largely defeated candidate in Venezuela’s Presidential elections, as “interim President” of the country is a blatant interference of the Americans in the internal affairs of an independent, sovereign state. Venezuela is experiencing an unprecedented situation, where the defeated in the elections presidential candidate, declares himself president and the “World President” rushes to recognize him. Close behind the sidekick countries of Latin America (the so-called “Lima group” declare that they recognize the leader of the Opposition as President, and, backed up by the OAS, exert pressure for the “restoration of democratic order” (change of regime, that is) in Venezuela. (more…)
President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013 of cancer at age 58, marked forever the history of Venezuela and Latin America.
1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.
2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.
3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela’s electoral system was “the best in the world.”
4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.
5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.
6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.
7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.
8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.
9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.
10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.
11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011. (more…)
If you want to learn about human rights in Venezuela before Hugo Chavez, type “Caracazo” into Google, and do so with a strong stomach. Back in 1989, then-President Carlos Andrés Pérez won an election on a fiery platform of resisting free-market dogma: the IMF was “a neutron bomb that killed people, but left buildings standing,” he proclaimed.
But after safely making it to the presidential palace, he dramatically u-turned, unleashing a programme of privatisation and neo-liberal shock therapy. With gas subsidies removed, petrol prices soared, and impoverished Venezuelans took to the streets. Soldiers mowed protesters down with gunfire. Up to 3,000 perished, a horrifying death toll up there with the Tienanmen Square Massacre – in a country with a population 43 times smaller.
It was his abortive coup attempt against Pérez’s murderous, rampantly corrupt government in 1992 that launched Chavez to prominence. Though locked away, Chavez became an icon for Venezuela’s long-suffering poor. By the time he won a landslide victory in 1998 on a promise to use the country’s vast oil wealth to help the poor, Venezuela was a mess. Per capita income had collapsed to where it had been in the early 1960s. One in three Venezuelans lived on less than $2 a day. Oil revenues were squandered.
Over the coming days, you will be repeatedly told that Hugo Chavez was a dictator. A funny sort of dictator: there have been 17 elections and referenda since 1998. Perhaps you think they were rigged. When he won by a huge margin in 2006, former US President Jimmy Carter was among those declaring he had won “fairly and squarely”. (more…)