How Far Is
The Venezuelan Revolution Advancing?
by Miguel Angel Núñez
1) Since April 2002, when we had the military coup and the oil strike, the Venezuelan government has realized that it was impossible to address or overcome structural problems like poverty, hunger, and lack of education without structural changes of the Venezuelan state. The revolutionary government must continue to advance in making structural changes.
2) The government created the Bolivarian social missions to accomplish several political objectives.
3) After three years of really great efforts we have obtained the followings results:
4) The social poverty status has declined by 10%, from 47% of the population living in extreme poverty to 37%, at the current time. We will have to address this in the near future.
5) Through the health missions, more than 210 million medical consultations have been carried out in more than 14,000 poor communities through the support of more than 10,000 Cuban doctors.
6) An additional health mission that we have is the Miracle Mission which restores sight to blind people. With these eye operations, the goal is to reach 700,000 Venezuelans in the next 6 years. In that same period of time, we have the goal of reaching 6,000,000 Latin Americans.
7) 1,436,000 women throughout Venezuela have received credit and have organized themselves into 1,389 cooperatives and into 16,421 small enterprises, creating nearly two hundred thousand (195,156) new jobs. (Editor: see interview with Nora Casteñeda, executive director of the Women's Development Bank in Venezuela)
8) 172,899 different types of cooperatives have been reported to be registered. This is a record in Latin America.
9) Nearly five hundred thousand (480,000) small industrial enterprises are functioning due to credits from the government.
10) 1,100 new socially productive businesses have been registered as a new type of enterprise for the socialism of the twenty first century. These socially productive businesses can be seen in the mining and oil industries.
11) From the Science Missions, 50,000 small farmers and producers are advancing 520 networks of agricultural and food-processing innovations
In the state of Merida, our organization IPIAT (Editor: see interview with Miguel Angel Núñez to learn more about IPIAT) is helping to develop and advance fifty-two agroecological projects -- and this is just in the state of Merida.
12) Alternative media are functioning. In total: 207 alternative and community-based media outlets; print media -- 32; television -- 19; radio -- 142; Internet -- 14.
13) Food Missions: called Mercal - the biggest food distribution network (consisting of supermarkets with subsidized food) in Latin America: 13,725 mini-markets; 210 Mercals type 1; 1007 Mercals type 2; 34 supermercales that are cooperatively managed; 393 mobile markets; 117 centers of collective food storage. This network covers more than 15 million Venezuelans.
14) Agrarian land reform:
15) First, we must recall that due to the high dependence on the oil industry, Venezuelas arable lands are chronically underutilized and mismanaged, resulting in the import of some 70% of Venezuelas food. While there is plenty of rich agricultural land available, agricultural production is low, only 6% of the GPD. Venezuelas agriculture sector is the least productive in Latin America.
16) This means that the Green Revolution came but has not worked. So we have the special opportunity to advance a unique agrarian agroecological revolution.
What have we been doing about that?
17) President Chavez said in front of the U.S. Congress delegation in 2004,
For forty years theyve been talking about agrarian reform, and it has done nothing but reinforce the colonialism of the past. First, were putting into effect constitutional principles to obtain a real lasting change in the rural areas -- principles like prioritizing and taking seriously food security.
18) The land law and processes, explaining it:
Establish that landowners need to declare how much land they have (and pay taxes on it, as in any country) and how much is under production (and pay taxes on the production, as in any country).
19) If they hold a large expanse of land (more that 5,000 hectares) that is not producing, they will be asked to show that they own the land. Should they fail to do so, they will be given an order in which they have to put it into production. If the landowner fails to make it produce, according to the law, the land can be bought by the government at the current market price so that farmers can be assigned to this land to produce on it.
20) It will not be taken away, but they will be forced to sell it.
21) Along with handing over the land to poor farmers and the landless, the government has fostered the creation of cooperatives and provides technical assistance, special credits, warehouses for sales of produce, and education centers.
22) Here are some figures about that.
23) After 5 years of the application of the land law (which we also call the Agrarian Letter), we have regulated 3,499,790 hectares creating 78,436 productive farm units.
24) We have rescued 373 farms from large landholdings covering 1,499,989 hectares.
25) This has also included the establishment of 137 areas of endogenous development, or development from within.
26) Close to 7,000 agricultural cooperatives have been created.
27) The agroecological Venezuelan revolutionary process:
28) IPIAT (The Institute for the Production and Research of Tropical Agriculture) has given significant support to this process. Here are some figures highlighting IPIAT's activities in 2006:
29) The actions that are reflected here have been linked with the following government activities towards agroecology:
One of the main debts of the Venezuelan revolutionary process up until now is the need to advance and define environmental political actions. We understand that the new socialist ethics will be found in the ethics of sustainability, to survive the critical conditions of our living planet.
If you have any thoughts on this or would like to contribute to an ongoing discussion in the
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