Fighting two kinds of poverty in Venezuela

Issue 

Tamara Pearson

"There are more dangerous poverties than the material type", Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tsaid in an October 2003 interview. "There is moral poverty — the poverty of principles. We could say that material poverty is the consequence of moral poverty."

Under Chavez's leadership, Venezuela has made huge strides in reducing poverty. According to Venezuela's National Institute of Statistics (INE), the proportion of the country's 26 million people living on or below the poverty line dropped to 35% by the end of 2005, down from 47% in 2004. Also, "critical poverty", the level at which people cannot afford to cover their basic needs, dropped to 10.1% of the population in the first half of 2005, down from 18% the previous year.

As well as massively reducing material poverty, Chavez's Bolivarian revolution has significantly reduced "moral poverty", giving power to the poor through education. Chavez has said that "the only way of ending poverty is giving power to the poor. Knowledge and consciousness are the main power!"

Over the past two years, 1.5 million Venezuelans have learned how to read and write, thus eradicating illiteracy from the country. By comparison, during the 10-year period prior to Chavez's election as Venezuela's president in 1998, only only 73,000 Venezuelans learned to read and write.

Carolus Wimmer, director for the international relations for the Venezualan National Assembly since 2002, and an activist in the Venezuelan Communist Party, will be explaining how the Chavez government has achieved these results during a speaking tour of Australia next month.

Wimmer was an adviser to the National Assembly president, William Lara, in 2001-02, and he produces a weekly radio program called Open Debate on Venezuela's state-run National Radio.

The tour is being organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. For more information, visit <http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org>. To help publicise the meetings or to make a booking to attend, phone 0425 289 294 or the contact number for the Wimmer tour in your city (listed in the Activist Calendar), or email the AVSN at <roberto@venezuelasolidarity.org>.

From Green Left Weekly, February 8, 2006.
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