Bolivarian missions

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Missions of the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela
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The Bolivarian missions are a series of populist social programs implemented under the administration of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez[1] and continued by Chávez's successor, Nicolás Maduro; with the programs focusing on social justice, social welfare, anti-poverty, educational, and military recruiting. They draw their name from the historical South American hero, Simón Bolívar.

Using increasing oil prices since the early 2000s and funds not seen in Venezuela since the 1980s, Chávez created "Bolivarian missions",[1] which entailed the launching of government anti-poverty initiatives,[2] the construction of thousands of free medical clinics for the poor,[3] indigenous rights,[4][better source needed] the institution of educational campaigns[5] and the enactment of food[6] and housing subsidies.[7] The Bolivarian missions are overseen with widespread experimentation in what Chávez's supporters call "citizen- and worker-managed governance."[8]

Mission Robinson (literacy), Mission Barrio Adentro (free medical coverage), and Mission Mercal (affordable food) are considered among the most important missions.[9]

Types[edit]

Education[edit]

  • 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.

Electoral[edit]

  • Mission Florentino  – was 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.

Environmental[edit]

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. It also seeks 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.

Healthcare[edit]

  • 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.

Housing[edit]

  • 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.

Identification[edit]

  • 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.

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 and to involve the rural population 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.[11]

Science[edit]

  • Mission Ciencia ("Mission Science" launched February 2006) – includes a project to train 400,000 people in open source software,[12] and scholarships for graduate studies and the creation of laboratories in different universities.[13]

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"[14] as part of a continuous program to create "citizen militias".[15]

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.

Culture[edit]

  • Mission Corazón Adentro – "Heart Within" (the community) – was established in 2004.[16] Initially piloted in the Caracas area, it aims to reaffirm Venezuelan identity by promoting cultural programming in local communities.[17]
  • 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.

International assistance[edit]

Cuba[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.[18]

In February 2010 seven Cuban doctors who defected to the US introduced an indictment against the governments of Cuba and Venezuela and the oil company PDVSA for what they considered was a conspiracy to force them to work under conditions of "modern slaves" as payment for the Cuban government' debt.[19] In 2014, it was reported by Miami NGO, Solidarity Without Borders, that at least 700 Cuban medical personnel had left Venezuela in the past year and that up to hundreds of Cuban personnel had asked for advice on how to escape from Venezuela weekly.[20] Solidarity Without Borders also stated that Cuban personnel cannot refuse to work, cannot express complaints and suffer with blackmail from threats against their family in Cuba.[20]

Impact[edit]

The Bolivarian missions have been praised for their effect on poverty, education and health, being described as "ways to combat extreme forms of exclusion" and "the mainstay of progress in the fight against poverty."[9] The platform showed an increase in spending on social programs[citation needed] and the construction of free health care clinics, subsidized food and created small manufacturing cooperatives.[citation needed] However, the Chávez government is claimed to have overspent on social spending without saving enough money for future economic distresses, which Venezuela experienced shortly before and after Hugo Chávez's death and during the Economic policy of the Nicolás Maduro government.[21] Poverty, inflation and shortages then began to increase in Venezuela as a result.[21] A multi-university study in 2015 questioned the effectiveness of the Bolivarian missions, showing that only 10% of Venezuelans studied benefitted from the missions.[22] Of that 10%, almost half were not affected from poverty.[22]

Healthcare[edit]

Mission Barrio Adentro, one of the flagship Bolivarian Missions of widest social impact, has drawn praise from the Latin American branch of the World Health Organization[23] and UNICEF.[24] Despite its praises, Barrio Adentro has been criticized for poor working conditions of its Cuban workers,[20] funding irregularities,[25] and an estimated 80% of Barrio Adentro establishments abandoned with reports of some structures being filled with trash or becoming unintentional shelters for the homeless.[26][27]

Poverty[edit]

During the Chávez's presidency, poverty fell 59.4% in 1999 to 30.2% in 2006 and extreme poverty went down from 21.7% to 9.9% in the same period according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).[9] However, the ECLAC showed a nearly 7% jump in poverty in 2013, increasing to 32.1% from 25.4% in 2012.[28]

The infant mortality rate went down 5.9% between 1999 and 2013.[29][30] The Gini coefficient fell from 47.8 in 1999 to 44.8 in 2006.[31][32] The government earmarked 44.6% of the 2007 budget for social investment, with 1999-2007 averaging 12.8% of GDP.[33][better source needed]

Sustainability of missions[edit]

From the beginning of the Bolivarian missions and past Chávez's death, the sustainability of the missions was questioned.[1][21][22] The Bolivarian government's over dependence on oil funds for large populist policies led to overspending on social programs and strict government polices created difficulties for Venezuela's import reliant businesses.[1][21][22] Foreign Policy described Chávez's Venezuela as "one of the worst cases of Dutch Disease in the world" due to the Bolivarian government's large dependence on oil sales and its lavish spending to please voters.[34] As a result of Chávez's policies, the durability of Bolivarian missions was put to the test shortly before and after Chávez's death, when poverty increased, inflation rose and widespread shortages in Venezuela occurred, with such effects growing especially into the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.[21][22][34]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Heritage, Andrew (December 2002). Financial Times World Desk Reference. Dorling Kindersley. pp. 618–621. ISBN 9780789488053. 
  2. ^ 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."
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ Maurice Lemoine. How Chavez changed life in the tribal territories: New rights. Le Monde diplomatique, July 2007.
  5. ^ Márquez, Humberto (28 October 2005). "Venezuela se declara libre de analfabetismo" (in Spanish). Inter Press Service. Retrieved 29 December 2006. 
  6. ^ Barreiro C., Raquel (4 March 2006). "Mercal es 34% más barato" (in Spanish). El Universal. Retrieved 29 December 2006. 
  7. ^ "Banco de la Vivienda transfirió 66 millardos para subsidios" (in Spanish). El Universal. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2006. 
  8. ^ Ellsworth, Brian. (International Herald-Tribune, 3 August 2005). "Venezuela tries the worker-managed route". Retrieved 12 November 2005.
  9. ^ a b c Justo, Marcelo (27 January 2009). "Entre los números y la realidad" (in Spanish). BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2009. 
  10. ^ http://ceims.mppre.gob.ve/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46:mision-revolucion-energetica&catid=23:misiones-bolivarianas
  11. ^ “We Want to Change Human Interaction with Nature”. Accessed 18 August 2006.
  12. ^ Venezuela Training 400,000 in Open Source. Accessed 18 August 2006.
  13. ^ Mission Science Grants 5,000 Scholarships. Accessed 18 August 2006.
  14. ^ Chávez anunció núcleos endógenos militares para la resistencia. El Universal (18 January 2006) (Spanish)
  15. ^ Ceaser, M. (BBC, 1 July 2005). "Chavez's 'citizen militias' on the march". Retrieved 27 June 2006.
  16. ^ Venezuelanalysis, 11 July 2005.Venezuela Launches New Culture Mission
  17. ^ Venezuelanalysis, 28 April 2009, Venezuela Opens National Art Gallery and Launches National Reading Plan
  18. ^ Bruce, Iain. Venezuela shuns IMF advice on oil money. BBC News (24 November 2004).
  19. ^ http://www.noticias24.com/actualidad/noticia/144581/siete-medicos-cubanos-demandan-a-cuba-y-venezuela-por-esclavitud-moderna/
  20. ^ a b c Vinogradoff, Ludmila (13 November 2014). "16 November 2014". ABC (Spanish). Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c d e Siegel, Robert (25 December 2014). "For Venezuela, Drop In Global Oil Prices Could Be Catastrophic". NPR. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  22. ^ a b c d e Scharfenberg, Ewald (1 February 2015). "Volver a ser pobre en Venezuela". El Pais. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  23. ^ WHO: República Bolivariana de Venezuela: Cumpliendo las Metas del Milenio – A report on Venezuela's objectives and progress regarding the UN Millennium Development Goals.
  24. ^ UNICEF: Venezuela’s Barrio Adentro: A Model of Universal Primary Health Care
  25. ^ Alonso, Juan (19 April 2014). "Contraloría detectó vicios en obras de Barrio Adentro III". El Universal. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "El 80% de los módulos de Barrio Adentro del país está cerrado". La Patilla. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  27. ^ Matheus, Ricardo. Abandonados 70% de módulos de BA Diario 2001 (29 July 2007).
  28. ^ "La pobreza en Venezuela aumentó a 32,1%, según la Cepal". La Patilla. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  29. ^ Keppel, Stephen (17 January 2013). "5 Ways Hugo Chavez Has Destroyed the Venezuelan Economy". ABC News. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  30. ^ "Millennium Development Goals Indicators". United Nations. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  31. ^ "GINI index (World Bank estimate) 1995-1999". World Bank. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  32. ^ World Bank "GINI index (World Bank estimate) 2005-2009". Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  33. ^ Perdomo, Eucaris (Panorama 24 October 2006). Economía venezolana ha crecido un 12,5% en últimos 12 trimestres(Spanish) Retrieved 24 October 2006[dead link]
  34. ^ a b Corrales, Javier (7 March 2013). "The House That Chavez Built". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]

  • (Spanish) Gobierno en Línea: Misiones – Official government website detailing the Bolivarian Missions.
  • (Spanish) Instituto Nacional de Estadística – Venezuela's National Institute of Statistics; has web several portals for accessing demographic and economic data related to the impact of Bolivarian Missions.