Bolivarian missions

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Missions of the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela
food — housing — medicine
Barrio Adentro  · Plan Bolívar 2000
Hábitat  · Mercal
Ribas  · Sucre
Robinson I  · Robinson II
indigenous rights — land — environment
Guaicaipuro  · Identidad
Miranda  · Piar
Vuelta al Campo  · Vuelvan Caras
Hugo Chávez · Nicolás Maduro
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Venezuela | Politics

The Bolivarian missions are a series of social justice, social welfare, anti-poverty, educational, and military recruiting programs implemented under the administration of the previous Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. They draw their name from the historical South American hero, Simón Bolívar.

The "Bolivarian missions" have entailed the launching of government anti-poverty initiatives,[1] the construction of thousands of free medical clinics for the poor,[2] the institution of educational campaigns that have reportedly made more than one million adult Venezuelans literate,[3] and the enactment of food[4] and housing subsidies.[5] The infant mortality rate fell by 18.2% between 1998 and 2006.[6][7] The government earmarked 44.6% of the 2007 budget for social investment, with 1999-2007 averaging 12.8% of GDP.[8] The Gini coefficient has fallen from 48.7 in 1998 to 42 in 2007 (claims that the Gini has risen were based on data from two different (non-comparable) statistical series).[9] During the Chávez Presidency, poverty and extreme poverty have gone down strongly: poverty fell from 59.4% in 1999 to 30.2% in 2006 and extreme poverty went down from 21.7% to 9.9% in the same period. Even critics like Instituto Real Elcano from Spain acknowledge these achievements although they cast doubts on the sustainability of these policies.[10]

The Missions have overseen widespread experimentation in what Chávez supporters term citizen- and worker-managed governance,[11][12] as well as the granting of thousands of free land titles, reportedly to formerly landless poor and indigenous communities.[13] Several allegedly unused estates and factories have been expropriated to provide this land.

The Chavez government also passed a number of laws protecting the rights of the indigenous people of Venezuela, including laws that recognize indigenous rights over the land they traditionally occupied, their rights to prior consultation concerning the exploitation of their natural resources, their rights to manage their own education system based on intercultural and bilingual principles, and a law providing that three native representatives shall sit in the National Assembly, as well as representation in municipal and regional assemblies in regions with a native population.[14]

In September 2007, speaking at the inauguration of the school year, Chavez announced a new curricular programme to be adopted by both public and private schools, which would "promote values of cooperation and solidarity". While promising he would make education his top priority and increase funding, he spoke of his vision of the future of education, based around "learning to create, to live together, to value and to reflect."[15]


  • Mission Robinson (launched July 2003) – uses volunteers to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to Venezuelan adults.
  • Mission Ribas (launched November 2003) – provides remedial high school level classes to Venezuelan high school dropouts; named after independence hero José Félix Ribas. In 2004, about 600,000 students were enrolled in this night school programme, and paid a small stipend. They were taught grammar, geography and a second language.
  • Mission Sucre (launched in late 2003) – provides free and ongoing higher education courses to adult Venezuelans.


  • Mission Florentino (launched June 2004) – organized by Hugo Chávez to promote the option "No" in the Venezuelan recall referendum of 2004. The organizational centers of the Mission were named "Comando Maisanta" and were the ideological central headquarters for those who wished to keep Chávez as the President of Venezuela for the remainder of his presidential period.


Food and nutrition[edit]

  • Mission Mercal – seeks to provide access to high-quality produce, grains, dairy, and meat at discounted prices. Seeks to provide Venezuela's poor increased access to nutritious, safe, and organic locally- and nationally-grown foodstuffs. Seeks also to increase Venezuela's food sovereignty. Its concrete results, however, are highly debatable, as in 2007 the country is heavily more dependent on imported foodstuffs than it was in 1997[citation needed], and has been facing chronic shortages in several basic supplies: milk, edible oils, sugar, cereals, eggs, and others.


  • Mission Barrio Adentro ("Mission Inside the Neighborhood") – a series of initiatives (deployed in three distinct stages) to provide comprehensive and community health care (at both the primary (Consultorios y Clínicas Populares or popular clinics) and secondary (hospital) levels), in addition to preventative medical counsel to Venezuela's medically under-served and impoverished barrios.


  • Mission Hábitat – has as its goal the construction of new housing units for the poor. The program also seeks to develop agreeable and integrated housing zones that make available a full range of social services – from education to healthcare – which likens its vision to that of new urbanism.


  • Mission Identidad – provides Venezuelan national identity cards to facilitate access to the social services provided by other Missions.

Indigenous rights[edit]

  • Mission Guaicaipuro (launched October 2003) – carried out by the Venezuelan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, this program seeks to restore communal land titles and human rights to Venezuela's numerous indigenous communities, in addition to defending their rights against resource and financial speculation by the dominant culture.

Land reform[edit]

  • Mission Zamora – an integrated land reform and land redistribution program in Venezuela. Several large landed estates and factories have been, or are in the process of being expropriated to stimulate the agricultural sector, create more economic activity and to redistribute wealth to the poor.

Rural development[edit]

  • Mission Vuelta al Campo ("Return to the Countryside"; announced mid– 2005) – seeks to encourage impoverished and unemployed urban Venezuelans to willingly return to the countryside.
  • Mission Árbol (Mission Tree, announced June 2006) – seeks to recover Venezuelan forests, with plans to plant 100,000 trees in 5 years. The project is also to involve the rural population, in an effort to stop harm to forests through from slash/burn practices by promoting more sustainable agriculture, such as growing coffee or cocoa. The projects aim to achieve this through self-organization of the local populations.[17]


  • Mission Ciencia ("Mission Science" launched February 2006) – includes a project to train 400,000 people in open source software,[18] and scholarships for graduate studies and the creation of laboratories in different universities.[19]

Socioeconomic transformation[edit]

  • Mission Vuelvan Caras ("Mission Turn Faces") – has as its objective the transformation of the present Venezuelan economy to one that is oriented towards social, rather than fiscal and remunerative, goals. It seeks to facilitate increased involvement of ordinary citizens in programs of endogenous and sustainable social development, emphasizing in particular the involvement of traditionally marginalized or excluded Venezuelan social and economic sectors, including those participating in Venezuela's significant "informal" economy. The mission's ultimate goal, according to Hugo Chávez, is to foster an economy that brings "a quality and dignified life for all". In January 2006, Chávez declared that, after fulfilling the first stage of the mission, the goal of the second stage will be to turn every "endogenous nuclei of development" into "military nuclei of resistance against American imperialism"[20] as part of a continuous program to create "citizen militias".[21]

Civilian militia[edit]

  • Mission Miranda – establishes a Venezuelan military reserve composed of civilians who could participate in the defense of the Venezuelan territory, in the legacy of the militias during the Spanish colonial period and the struggle for independence.


  • Mission Corazón Adentro – "Heart Within" (the community) – was established in 2004.[22] Initially piloted in the Caracas area, it aims to reaffirm Venezuelan identity by promoting cultural programming in local communities.[23]
  • Mission Música – helps the development of music by encouraging young people to take up music-related careers as well as to revive traditional Venezuelan folk music.

Cuban expertise[edit]

Many of these programs involve importing expertise from abroad; Venezuela is providing Cuba with 53,000 barrels (8,000 m³) of below-market-rate oil a day in exchange for the service of thousands of physicians, teachers, sports trainers, and other skilled professionals.[24]


The platform showed an increase in spending on social programs.[citation needed] The Chávez administration has thus built free health care clinics, subsidized food and created small manufacturing cooperatives.[citation needed] The literacy programs that comprise Mission Sucre are centered on fostering universal literacy among Venezuela's adult populace; an adjunct to this is the facilitation of their comprehension of the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999 and the inherent rights that they, as Venezuelan citizens, are guaranteed under this document.[25] Mission Barrio Adentro, one of the flagship Bolivarian Missions of widest social impact, has drawn international praise from the Latin American branch of the World Health Organization[26] and UNICEF.[27] Between them, these programs have constructed and modernized thousands of public medical and dental clinics, launched literacy and education initiatives, subsidized food, gasoline,[28] and other consumer goods, and established worker-managed manufacturing and industrial cooperatives.

However, the Chávez government overspent on social spending and did not save enough money for any future economic distresses, which Venezuela experienced shortly after Hugo Chávez's death and during the Economic policy of the Nicolás Maduro government.[29]


  1. ^ UNICEF. (UNICEF, 2005). "Venezuela’s Barrio Adentro: A Model of Universal Primary Health Care". Retrieved 15 October 2005. UNICEF, p. 2. "Barrio Adentro ... is part and parcel of the government's longterm poverty-reduction and social inclusion strategy to achieve and surpass the Millennium Development Goals."
  2. ^ "Estrategia de Cooperación de OPS/OMS con Venezuela 2006-2008" (PDF) (in Spanish). Pan American Health Organization. June 2006. pp. p. 54. Retrieved 31 December 2006. 
  3. ^ Márquez, Humberto (28 October 2005). "Venezuela se declara libre de analfabetismo" (in Spanish). Inter Press Service. Retrieved 29 December 2006. 
  4. ^ Barreiro C., Raquel (4 March 2006). "Mercal es 34% más barato" (in Spanish). El Universal. Retrieved 29 December 2006. 
  5. ^ "Banco de la Vivienda transfirió 66 millardos para subsidios" (in Spanish). El Universal. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2006. 
  6. ^ Central Intelligence Agency. (CIA, 1998). The World Factbook 1998: Venezuela. Retrieved 18 October 2005.
  7. ^ Central Intelligence Agency. (CIA, 2005). The World Factbook 2006: Venezuela. Retrieved 22 July 2006.
  8. ^ Perdomo, Eucaris (Panorama 24 October 2006). Economía venezolana ha crecido un 12,5% en últimos 12 trimestres(Spanish) Retrieved 24 October 2006
  9. ^ [1].
  10. ^ Justo, Marcelo (27 January 2009). "Entre los números y la realidad" (in Spanish). BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2009. 
  11. ^ Albert, Michael ( Z Communications, 6 November 2005). "Venezuela's Path". Retrieved 12 November 2005.
  12. ^ Ellsworth, Brian. (New York Times, 3 August 2005). "Venezuela tries the worker-managed route". Retrieved 12 November 2005.
  13. ^ Wilpert, Gregory. (Venezuela Analysis, 12 September 2005). Venezuela’s Quiet Housing Revolution: Urban Land Reform. Retrieved 18 October 2005. " ... the celebration of the handing out of over 10,000 land titles to families living in Venezuela's poorest urban neighborhoods ... As of mid 2005, the National Technical Office has issued over 84,000 titles to 126,000 families, benefiting about 630,000 barrio inhabitants."
  14. ^ Maurice Lemoine. How Chavez changed life in the tribal territories: New rights. Le Monde Diplomatique, July 2007.
  15. ^ James Ingham. Venezuela leader's school warning. BBC News, 18 September 2007.
  16. ^
  17. ^ “We Want to Change Human Interaction with Nature”. Accessed 18 August 2006.
  18. ^ Venezuela Training 400,000 in Open Source. Accessed 18 August 2006.
  19. ^ Mission Science Grants 5,000 Scholarships. Accessed 18 August 2006.
  20. ^ Chávez anunció núcleos endógenos militares para la resistencia. El Universal (18 January 2006) (Spanish)
  21. ^ Ceaser, M. (BBC, 1 July 2005). "Chavez's 'citizen militias' on the march". Retrieved 27 June 2006.
  22. ^ Venezuelanalysis, 11 July 2005.Venezuela Launches New Culture Mission
  23. ^ Venezuelanalysis, 28 April 2009, Venezuela Opens National Art Gallery and Launches National Reading Plan
  24. ^ Bruce, Iain. Venezuela shuns IMF advice on oil money. BBC News (24 November 2004).
  25. ^ Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela – Official text.
  26. ^ WHO: República Bolivariana de Venezuela: Cumpliendo las Metas del Milenio – A report on Venezuela's objectives and progress regarding the UN Millennium Development Goals.
  27. ^ UNICEF: Venezuela’s Barrio Adentro: A Model of Universal Primary Health Care
  28. ^ The Wall Street Journal |url= missing title (help). 
  29. ^ Siegel, Robert (25 December 2014). "For Venezuela, Drop In Global Oil Prices Could Be Catastrophic". NPR. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 


  • Niemeyer, Ralph T. (2004), Under Attack: Morning Dawn in Venezuela, iUniverse, ISBN 0-595-66208-0 .

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