Extreme Poverty Down to Just 4.9 Percent in Venezuela

Source:  TeleSUR
17 November 2015

Under the PSUV socialist party government, extreme poverty in Venezuela has been reduced from 21% in 1998 to the resent level of 4.9% .  In the region extreme poverty varies with a high of 53 percent.

maduro 700000th home.jpg
In April 2015, President Nicolas Maduro (2ndR) gave away the 700,000th home built by the Bolivarian Revolution. Now over 800,000 have been built. | Photo: AVN

In spite of Venezuela’s economic turbulence in 2015, the government has managed to reduce extreme poverty to 4.9 percent thanks to social investment and initiatives, the vice president for social development, Gladys Requena, announced Monday.

IN DEPTH: The Truth Behind Shortages in Venezuela

hugo chavez 30When former President Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998, 21 percent of Venezuelans lived in extreme poverty. Since then, under Chavez’s same PSUV socialist party government, a variety of government “missions,” or initiatives, have bolstered living conditions for millions.

IN DEPTH: Chavez’s Legacy

The housing mission, for example, between 2011 and 2015 has provided 800,000 low-income families with new homes, while it was reported that the 12-year-old health mission has completed over 700 million free appointments to date.

Social projects

The spending on social projects has continued in spite of international opponents to the wealth redistribution project of the PSUV’s “Bolivarian Revolution” waging an economic war on Venezuela, which has driven up inflation and smuggling.

venezuela extreme poverty vs inflation.jpgThe vice president of planning, Ricardo Menendez, highlights that the Bolivarian Revolution has achieved a reduction in extreme poverty (orange bars) in spite of the inflation (blue bars) caused by the economic war. | Photo: AVN

Poverty eradication 

Speaking at a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) ministers meeting, Venezuela’s vice president, Jorge Arreaza, said that his government’s goal is to eradicate extreme poverty within the coming years.

The continuation of this trend under the PSUV will depend, in part, on Venezuelan parliamentary elections Dec. 6.

World Bank statistics from 2012 show that the regional average for those living under US$1.90 per day stood at 5.6 percent. However, individual country statistics varied greatly from over 53 percent in Haiti to almost 19 percent in Honduras to 0.3 percent in Uruguay. At that time the World Bank and the Venezuelan national statistics agency put Venezuelans living in extreme poverty at 9.2 percent.

Source:  Extreme Poverty Down to Just 4.9 Percent in Venezuela

One thought on “Extreme Poverty Down to Just 4.9 Percent in Venezuela

  1. There are four main points that are relevant to be highlighted in the context of the Venezuelan revolution’s determined and conscious policy measures to not only reduce poverty but to also strive for long term growth and development.

    The first point is that for all the right- wing propagandists and spokes persons in Venezuela, the US and across Latin America and the globe who persistently belittle and misrepresent the Bolivarian revolution’s achievements in combatting poverty and other social ills in Venezuelan, it is noteworthy that they were all silent when prior to the rise of Hugo Chavez in 1998, millions of Venezuelans wallowed in poverty. They were silent about the plight of so many millions of human beings living in hunger and poverty in Venezuela because their class masters and allies, namely, the oligarchy and corporate elites were the ones in power. They were the ones calling the shots and pursuing the policies that made the rich richer and the poor poorer in Venezuela.

    To put it bluntly, the bosses of the right wing propagandists in Venezuela and globally did not care about the poor when they sold out Venezuela’s resources including its oil wealth to the empire’s corporations. Indeed, 21 percent or 21 Venezuelans out of every 100 lived in poverty when Chavez became President in 1998. Today, even by the World Bank’s calculation about 9 out of every 100 Venezuelans live in poverty which is nearly twice the amount according to the calculation of the Venezuelan statistical agency. Therefore even by the World Bank’s calculation the poverty rate would have fallen by nearly 12 percent by the Bolivarian revolution!

    Secondly, the stunning achievements of the Venezuelan government to have reduced poverty from 21 percent when Chavez became president in 1998 to the current rate of 4.9 percent is frankly a more important achievement than the high rate of inflation. Interestingly, the latter is at least in part caused by the former given more employment and incomes today compared to the decades when the corporate elites and the local oligarchy ruled Venezuela when the poor were trapped in poverty while the accounts of Venezuela’s oligarchs and oil officials in Swiss and US banks swelled with billions of petrodollars.

    Third, the conventional obsession of neoliberal economists with macroeconomic stability as measured by a low inflation rate, low interest rate to attract investment and to power growth, low unemployment rates, a weak and competitive exchange rate to boost exports and export production among others though necessary are woefully inadequate to fight poverty, homelessness, unemployment, illiteracy, ill health for millions, modern plumbing and other facilities for the millions who have known only poverty. In other words, the achievement of macroeconomic stability as measured by the cited indicators cannot by themselves achieve long term growth and development which are the ultimate goals of the Bolivarian revolution.

    Indeed, there have been countries in the past, in the present and no doubt in the future which satisfy the neoliberal criteria of macroeconomic stability which experience low growth rates, very high rates of poverty, millions living in shovels, millions in very poor health and with no access to health care services and highly underdeveloped economies which solely subsist to service industrialized economies. Furthermore, several of these dependent though stable economies are also heavily indebted to multinational banks in industrialized countries, they also import clothing, foods and virtually everything else while having very weak export sectors. In other words, these countries that have achieved macroeconomic stability in the narrow context of neoliberal economics are always celebrated by the IMF, the World Bank and other neoliberal agencies.

    However, unlike Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua there is virtually no significant measurement of development in these countries. For example Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Zaire and other countries under fascist dictators were frequently celebrated as having achieved macroeconomic stability though the majority of their peoples were living in outrageous levels of misery, poverty, illiteracy, hunger and other well known
    indices of socio-economic underdevelopment.

    Finally, it must be underscored that the earlier comments about neoliberal macroeconomic stability are not intended to dismiss the significance of low inflation, competitive interest rates and the other earlier mentioned indicators of stability but rather they are intended to suggest that in the context of revolutionary changes as in Venezuela, these indicators must necessarily be seen in terms of the medium to long term changes in ending poverty, providing housing like the 800,000 homes provided by the Bolivarian government, ending illiteracy and providing long term educational opportunities, electricity and modern living facilities for millions who have never had them before in their lives.

    In short, for revolutionaries, macroeconomic stability cannot be independent of the deeper changes to make the economy and the institutions in the society serve the majority of the people. Additionally, the indices of macroeconomic stability whether its low and predictable inflation or low and predictable interest rates or competitive exchange rates must reflect the overall improvements in the lives of those who have never been empowered or benefitted from the resources in the economy and society. As such, as in non-revolutionary situations where inflation, interest and exchange rates fluctuate so too in revolutionary situations they oscillate for all kinds of reasons including the millions who did not have jobs and therefore had no purchasing power to participate in markets for foods, clothing, housing, household appliances and a range of other commodities which thanks to the revolution they now do in Venezuela. However, as in capitalist societies in revolutionary societies like Venezuela, sometimes policy makers like fiscal managers and central bankers misjudge the state of the economy and may increase government spending or cut taxes or increase money supply when they should reduce them and vice versa. The latter discretionary government spending and money supply policies whether in the US or Venezuela or any other country will cause fluctuations in inflation, interest, unemployment rates and exchange rates. Moreover in the case of Venezuela, the right wing forces and the imperialists are creating artificial food shortages and disrupting production in their ongoing campaign to overthrow the Maduro government . The latter contributes to higher food prices and higher commodity prices which lead to inflation and reduced purchasing power particularly for working people.

    Thus the current high inflation in Venezuela like the other macroeconomic indices that neoliberal economists tend to evaluate almost independent of poverty, access to health care services, illiteracy, housing and other development indices are the result of multiple sources and is not the direct cause of revolution.

    “Peace if you are willing to fight for it” Fed Hampton

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