“In Venezuela the social policy is universal, regardless of whether or not the population is linked to the labor market. All Venezuelans have free access to healthcare, food, social protection, education, and IT centers or infocenters,” among other services, said Elias Eljuri, President of Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), on Saturday in Washington, DC.
Eljuri highlighted the achievements of Venezuela’s social policies in a conference hosted by the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S. to celebrate February 4th, National Day of Dignity.
The INE president stressed the importance of the food program Mission Mercal, which offers basic food products at an 80 percent discount, and government financing for expensive medical treatments such as chemotherapy and antiretroviral treatments.
“The government is developing, especially with the social missions, a process of massive and accelerated social inclusion financed by oil revenues,” he said. “Royalties paid by transnational companies were once irrelevant, between 1 to 3 percent, but today they reach 33 percent.”
“A lot of people claim that the government of Venezuela gives away oil to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, through PetroCaribe or Petrosur (which don’t give oil away, but rather, sell it at preferential rates), but they don’t criticize the million of dollars given to transnational companies with 1 percent royalties,” he said.
Before a crowded hall, Eljuri also mentioned the increase in university enrollment, with over 2.3 million people currently studying.
“According to UNESCO, Venezuela ranks second after Cuba in university enrolment,” he said.
Infant malnutrition in children below five years old was reduced from 7.7 percent in 1990 to 2.9 percent in 2011, paving the way for the fulfillment of the UN Millennium Goals, he said.
“This means that children are being better fed thanks to the missions.”
Additionally, he highlighted the success of the housing program Gran Mision Vivienda Venezuela, through which 146,000 homes were built in 2011. Next year, an additional 200,000 homes will be built to reduce the problems of overcrowding and inadequate housing.
“All these policies will contribute to lowering the 6.8 percent rate of structural poverty,” he emphasized.
Eljuri also mentioned the contribution of the newly created Mission Sons of Venezuela and Mission Higher Love to reducing extreme poverty. Mission Sons of Venezuela will help families in extreme poverty conditions with children below 18 years old with economic aid.
“About 1,350,000 children will receive benefits… as well as children with disabilities.”
Meanwhile, Mission Higher Love will aid over 1 million elderly citizens lacking pension benefits.
“Whether or not they have a pension, regardless of whether they’ve made any contribution, they will receive a minimum wage,” which will help reduce poverty to 3.5 percent, he said.
The success of the Venezuelan government’s social policies is due to the new paradigm of oil policy, based on the recovery and control of oil revenues, which “has contributed to significantly increasing the resources invested in social policies” Eljuri highlighted.
Eljuri is in the U.S. to participate in a conference at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which is chaired by Venezuela, in New York last Friday. He also gave a lecture at Columbia University.
Photo by: Nestor Sanchez-Cordero
Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / February 4, 2012