Some years ago before I left South Africa I told people that the future of the world could possibly lie in the Bolivarian Revolution that was taking place in Venezuela.
This was after reading a comprehensive booklet from Venezuela that contained the Bolivarian Constitution, which I was given by the American Embassy (Consulate?) in Durban as an example of the sort of thing that was threatening the West and America.
It was whilst I was still with BCE (my Construction Insurance Company) ~ the Consulate was on the next floor to the Munich Reinsurance company and I chatted to a lady who worked at the Consulate in the lift. It was one of those synchronicity things that happen occasionally. It seemed that every time I visited Munich Re - several times a week in those days - she was either going down or coming up. She was a charming black woman from Augusta and we went for coffee a couple of times.
Anyway, after reading it I was intrigued, for everything it contained made sense. Taking one example - Prison Towns. This is in fact in the Old Testament, only called Cities of Refuge - see http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Gleanings_Joshua/joshua_18.htm .
"Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: that the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood."
Our Group in Rhodesia actually drafted a Constitution based on the Bible teachings of the Pentateuch that we sent to the Government ~ I was at that time on National Executive of the ruling party ~ and this was included in it. I would love to be able to say that our Constitution was similar to the Bolivarian but cannot. I think, however, that it was pretty good. Of course, I am prejudiced towards it.
The concept of Cities of Refuge (Prison Towns) was ridiculed as unpractical. Our argument was that people would be able to provide a service to the community rather than be incarcerated at the expense of that same community: so I was thrilled to see this and other precepts within the BC. Since then, whenever I have supported the BC I have been ridiculed and told that Venezuela is a dictatorship etc. etc.
So now is the time to see what Venezuela has accomplished:
Take a look below, sent to me from www.VenezuelaAnalysis.Com
12 years since the start of the Bolivarian Revolution, let’s draw a few little doves that help grasp the worrisome statist orientation of this Revolution. A pertinent clarification: the following data is not from Wikileaks.
Economics and Finances
- Liberation of the country from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- Increase in the international reserves
- Reduction of the public debt from 47.5 to 25 points (2003-2006)
- Elimination of the tax on bank debiting
- Creation of the large banks: of the Treasury, of Development, and of the South
- Recuperation of the oil industry
- Recuperation of OPEC as an organization that defends the price of oil
- Liberation of state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) from the securities commission of the United States, paying the corresponding debt (26 billion dollars)
- Increase in the oil reserves with the recuperation of the Orinoco Oil Belt
- Rescue of lands for agriculture and their handing over to the peasantry
- Diversification of production: creation of factories for the production of tractors, bicycles, and automobiles as well as cement in association with Iran
- Creation of a new National Health Service (Inside the Barrio Mission)
- Equipping of hospitals with incubators and other sophisticated equipment
- Construction of Children’s Cardiology Center
- Thousands of people with their vision recuperated (Miracle Mission)
- Reduction in the infant mortality rate by 27 percent
- Increase in the life expectancy rate to 73.18 years of age
- Construction of the first Popular Indigenous Clinic in the state of Apure and an extensive network of outpatient clinics for the indigenous
- Creation of National Institute of Women (Inamujer)
- Creation of the Simoncito program (attention for children from before birth)
- Extension of the period for maternal lactation which forces employers to give more weeks to working mothers
- Support for 200,000 mothers with economic difficulties (Mothers of the Barrio Mission)
- Bolivarian University in all states (over 800 graduates as upper-lever technicians) as well as the University of Sports, in Cojedes
- Opening up of bachelors degrees for thousands of people, with more than 200,000 graduates to date (Ribas Mission)
- Literacy achieved by over 1.5 million people, for which UNESCO declared the country free of illiteracy
- Recuperation of over 100,000 education campuses
- Creation of 58,236 new schools
- Creation of 255 technical-training schools where 203,000 students study: the goal is to reach 500 of these schools for 500,000 students
- Publication of over 50 million books distributed free of charge so as to increase the people’s cultural level
- Equipping of the country’s public libraries
- Creation of over 6,000 bolivarian schools and 75,000 classroom libraries
- Payment of all debts to teachers and substantial increases in salaries
- Elimination of tuition fees for state-operated schoolhouses
- Reduction of critical poverty from 80 to 30 percent (1998-2007)
- Attending to hundreds of people, including children, living on the streets (Negra Hipólita Mission)
- Network of Feeding Houses for those in need
- Declaration of workplace immobility, to impede firings
- Program for the substitution of shacks for houses
- With benefits, the minimum wage of a Venezuelan worker amounts to 638 dollars per month (8,000 Mexican pesos)
- Increase in the number of people that today have drinkable water and electricity
- Creation of the PDVSA Social Districts to assist hundreds of communities throughout the country
- National plan for gasification (natural gas piped directly to communities/homes)
- Creation of Telesur and the Bolivarian News Agency (ABN)
- Approval of the law for social responsibility in radio and television
- Placing in orbit of the Simón Bolívar satellite, for the development of tele-medicine, tele-education, and for information independence
- Increase to 6,700 birds in the population of Caribbean flamingos, species considered to be in danger of extinction
- Planting of 20 million trees since 2006 (Tree Mission)
- Increase in the number of people affiliated to Social Security, as well as in pensions for the elderly
- Payment of all debts to professors, doctors and retirees
- Retirement for catholic school teachers at ‘Faith and Happiness’ who for 50 years had not received retirement or bonuses
- Construction of penitentiary cities intended to resolve of prison problem
- Independence of the Armed Forces from the influence of the School of the Americas (SOA)
- Exit of Yankee technicians that conducted espionage in the barracks as well as diversification in the markets from which arms are purchased
- Entry into Mercosur
- Creation of the Bolivarian Alternative for the People’s of Our America (ALBA) as an alternative to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)
- Increase in the self-esteem of the Venezuelan people
- Establishment of the country’s sovereignty
- Glorification of the history of popular and national struggles
- Effective democracy
Agriculture and Production
Poverty, Work, and Housing
José Steinsleger is a writer and journalist. He is a founding member of the Latin-American Federation of Journalists (FELAP, 1976), of the Latin-American Agency of Special Information Services (ALASEI-UNESCO, 1984) and the movement, “In defense of humanity” (Mexico, 2003). Since 1996 he maintains a regular column in the Mexican daily La Jornada. He is also author and co-author of several books on the Latin American historical political reality.