Violence haunts Venezuela Christmas holidays - Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:35AM – Press TV - http://www.presstv.com/detail/157833.html
Venezuela, More Deadly Than Iraq, Wonders Why - August 22, 2010 – New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/world/americas/23venez.html
Poverty drops in Venezuela – Sun Jan 9, 2011 7:52PM – Press TV - http://www.presstv.com/detail/159397.html
Venezuela – Tierra de Gracia
Natural WondersAngel FallsAngel Falls or Kerepakupai merú (which means "waterfall of the deepest place", in Pemonlanguage, or: Parakupa-vena, which means "the fall from the highest point"; Spanish: SaltoÁngel) is the worlds highest waterfall, with a height of 979 m (3,212 ft) and a plunge of 807m (2,647 ft). The waterfall drops over the edge of the Auyantepui mountain in the CanaimaNational Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Canaima), a UNESCO World Heritage site in theGran Sabana region of Bolívar State, Venezuela.
Basic Statistics (Obtained from the CIA World Factbook and US Department of State)• Population: 26,814,843 (July 2009 est.)• Urban Population: 93% of total population (2008)• National Holiday: Independence Day, 5 July (1811)• Economy - Overview: Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 90% of export earnings, about 50% of the federal budget revenues, and around 30% of GDP.• Population Below Poverty Line: 37.9% (end 2005 est.)• Exports - Partners: US 39.8%, Netherlands Antilles 7.6%, China 4.6% (2008)• Imports - Partners: US 26.1%, Colombia 12.6%, Brazil 10.7%, China 6.9%, Mexico 4.8% (2008)• Chief of State: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999)
Changing Demographics and Increased Oil Dependency• Restructuring of economy• Discovery of oil in 1909 – purchase of cheap foodstuffs from abroad – decline of domestic agricultural sector – Oil comes to dominate economy at the expense of other industries• Rapid rural to urban migration – Strains government resources – Formation of shanty towns around major urban areas – Persistence of poverty, gradually worsens over the years• Reliance on oil and dependency on food imports worsened in 1990s through implementation of neoliberal policies.
Worsening Socio-Economic Conditions and the 1998 Election of Hugo Chavez• Corruption• Ineffective management of the economy• Increase in imports• Widening gap between social classes• Using international credit Venezuela continues to invest heavily in capital intensive industries and social programs• 1980s and 1990s: 20 year decline in oil revenues – State forced to cut back on social spending and distribution programs – Rising debt crisis – Decline in export revenues – Rising expectations among Venezuelan population – Government forced to devalue currency and cut back on spending on social programs• Social conditions progressively deteriorated• El Caracazo: February 27 1989 – neoliberal package raises gas prices and bus fares – riots break out• 1992: Hugo Chávez attempts military coup, styling himself as a champion of the masses – Chávez imprisioned, released after 1993 presidential elections – Decides to pursue political goals through the electoral system• Chávez promises to: – reduce inequality and poverty – Give land to the peasants – Improve general living conditions• Run up to 1998 elections; situation in Venezuela had become critical – Chávez appeals as an outsider uncorrupted by the previous political system• December 6th 1998: Chávez wins the elections in a landslide
Who is Hugo Chavez• Teodoro Petkoff – “Bourbonic Left”• Andres Oppenheimer – “Venezuela and Beirut”• Simon Saez Merida – “A Rhetorical Revolution”• Richard Gott – “A Democratic Revolution”• “Different Rate of Transition”
Elections and Results during Chavez GovernmentDec 6, 1998 Wins Elections with 56,2% of the VoteApril 25, 1999 The New Constitution is ratified with 88% of the VoteJuly 30, 2000 Chavez Wins Elections under new constitution with 59% of the VoteAugust 16, 2004 Chavez avoids a referendum with 59% of the voteDec 3, 2006 Chavez is reelected with 62,89% of the voteDec 2, 2007 Chavez loses an election (51.01% to 48.99%)Feb 15, 2009 Constitution is amended (54.36%)
Government Misiones• Currently, there are 29 actives misiones in Venezuela.• All of the misiones attempt to collectively improve conditions for the lower classes in Venezuela.• The misiones deal with topics such as – Education: Ribas, Robinson, Sucre. – Health: Milagro, Esperanza, Jose Gregorio Hernandez, Barrio Adentro (I, II, III) • CDI – Reorganization of Labor: Che Guevara, Vuelvan Caras, 13 de Abril. – Rural Conditions: Zamora, Arbol, Vuelta al Campo.• Misiones have improved the conditions of the poor, among them the campesino.• The Misiones have been criticized as clientelistic
Gradual Changes by the Chavez GovernmentApril 25, 1999 New Constitution is ratifiedNovember 13, 2001 Legislature approves 49 laws including the Law of Hidrocarbons, and the Law of Lands.April 2002 – To Dec 2002 Chavez faces a coup and also a general strike, his transitional to socialism slows downLaw of Content and Social Auto-Censoring of Media NetworksResponsibility – Nov 2004“Ley Habilitante” – Feb 1, 2007 Allows the President to rule by decree for 18 monthsNationalization of Industries PDVSA, CANTV (Feb, 2007)“Ley de Inmuebles” Currently being drafted – Abolishes private property
Castro was involved in: -Grenada -Panama -Nicaragua -Venezuela -Chile -BoliviaCurrent Latin American Leaders Associated with Chavez
Castro was the head of the Non-Aligned Movement – 1979-1983-Supported Soviet invasion of Afghanistan-Sent troops to Angola, and the Congo Chavez in Iraq (2000) and Iran (2006)
Growing Violence (1998-2010)• Caracas is the second most violent city in Latin America, after Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. A government sponsored study released earlier this year revealed that 2.300.000 criminal cases were reported in the country in 2009. Among those 60% were robberies and thefts but what really is the most disturbing is the number of murders and kidnappings. For 100.000 inhabitants 75 are killed and another 95 are kidnapped. In Caracas the murder rate is 220 per 100,000 people. Polls show that violence is the main concern for 95% of the Venezuelan.
Violence Continues (NYT – August 22, 2010)• Some here joke that they might be safer if they lived in Baghdad. The numbers bear them out.• In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000.• Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.
Decreased Poverty• To fight poverty government implemented “social missions” a series of state-funded social programs across diverse areas of human development such as education, medicine, nutrition, and culture. Thanks to those policies authorities claim that the poverty rate has dropped to 27% and extreme poverty to 7.7 percent since President Chavez took office, when 49% of the population lived below the poverty line and 21% were suffering from extreme poverty.
Venezuelan Economics – 2009-2010 (BBC – 1/19/2010)• More worrying is Venezuelas apparent inability to get to grips with persistent inflation, which is now the highest in Latin America, reaching an annual rate of at least 27% in 2009.• The bolivars official exchange rate, which is set by government decree, had been held at 2.15 to the US dollar since the last devaluation in March 2005.• Oil, as ever, is still the mainstay of the Venezuelan economy. In fact, it is responsible for more than 90% of the countrys foreign currency inflows and 50% of government revenues.
AGRARIAN REFORM IN VENEZUELA: CASE STUDY OF A FUNDOZAMORANO IN THE STATE OF MONAGAS
History of Land Ownership in Venezuela• Colonial System: – Encomienda – Repartimiento – Land granted to nobles according to their “quality”• War of Independence: – Independence forces failed to appeal to campesinos – José Tomás Boves, José Antonio Páez – Lands awarded to those who fought according to their rank• Conservative Oligarchy 1830 – 1847 – Páez – first Venezuelan president – Ezequiel Zamora rose up, argued for distribution of land and respect for campesino.• Liberal Oligarchy: 1848 – 1858 – President José Gregorio Monagas – President José Tadeo Monagas – Awarded land to family and friends and for political favours• Federal War 1859-1863 – Zamora dies in 1860 but remains moral leader of the Federal War to this day. – Liberals win but fail to implement agrarian reform• Spoils system: Presidents amass large amounts of land during their term in office. Land concentrated in the hands of a few
1960 Law of Agrarian Reform• March 5th 1960: Agrarian Reform law signed by the leaders of the 3 major political parties (Romulo Betancourt, Rafael Caldera and Jóvito Villalba)• Reform focused on integral rural development• Promoted growth of capitalist medium sized producer, not communal or cooperative organizations.• Aimed to: – Modernize the agricultural sector – Reduce rural poverty – distribute land, services and aid to landless campesinos – Increase agricultural production• Land awarded at no cost to landless campesinos, whereas medium-sized farmers were required to pay a fee• Expected to coordinate rural development efforts with other government agencies but the actual level of cooperation was very limited• 1960 reforms legally active until 2001.
Results of the 1960 Agrarian Reform• There is considerable dispute among scholars about the exact number of beneficiaries and amount of land distributed under the 1960 reform. However, it is generally agreed that the reform:• Distributed land to a large number of households• Increased agricultural production• Improved education• Increased access to healthcare in rural areas• Increased use of fertilizers and agricultural technology for medium sized producersBUT:• Reform was limited in its extent• High level of land concentration persisted – only a small change in the Gini coefficient• Reform failed to eliminate the latifundio• Reform primarily benefited medium-sized land owners• Did not eliminate dependency on agricultural imports• Total number of minifundios actually increased• Limited improvement in the conditions experienced by campesino families• Increase in rural poverty levels from 1975-1997• Credit mainly given to medium or large size capitalist producers• Development of legal and illegal land market – According to 1997 agrarian census 90% of farmland distributed under 1960 agrarian reform has been recovered by larger landowners• Corruption was widespread
Legal Framework• Constant reorganization and strengthening of the agrarian reform process. – 1999 Bolivarian Constitution (Articles 305-308) – 2001 Law of Lands and Agrarian Development (LTDA) • Creation of the INTI, INDER, CVA – 2001 Special Law of Cooperative Associations – 2003 Bolivarian Misiones – 2005 Reform Bill• 2001 LTDA- Article 104 – Classification of land according to different agricultural vocations. – Lands can be taxed if not meeting 80% of the expected production level.• 2002 Supreme Court Decision – Article 89 and 90 declared unconstitutional – Article 90 was reintroduced after minor modifications in its text – The government went around the unconstitutionality of Article 89 by issuing Cartas Agrarias.• 2005 Reform Bill – Land can be expropriated even if they are productive, if they exceed 5,000 hectares
Administration of the Reform and Rural Development Initiatives• Creation of new institutions and reorganization of institutions. “Socialism of the 21st Century” – INCES, CIARA, INIA, ZEDES, BAV, BANMUJER, FODAS, FONENDOGENO, FUNDAPROAL – INTI, CVA, INDER, EPS• Creation of new ministries – From 14 (1999) to 27 (2007).• Creation and expansion of government misiones.• Expansion of the government has increased attention to previously overlooked social issues, yet it has also brought about overlapping jurisdiction between institutions and the need for reorganization.• Consolidated Fundos Zamoranos were recently transferred for INTI to CIARA. Institutions such as INIA are currently reorganizing.• High level of polarization has led to an increased distrust and fear of obstructionists within the different institutional administrations (Human Rights Watch, 2008).• NDE and Fundos Zamoranos – Both created out of cooperatives formed from Mision Vuelvan Caras. Practically interchangeable. The conglomerates of cooperatives functioning adequately are designated as Fundos Zamoranos while those experiencing greater difficulties are designated as NDE.• The current agrarian reform has been primarily top / down in nature. The lack of a major rural organization and the limited and unorganized rural population has increase the difficulties in organizing cooperatives. – Acting as cash transfer programs. Mision Vuelvan Caras paid its participants $150 a month for participating.
Achievements of the 2001 Agrarian Reform• Production (2000-2005) has decreased in certain crops – including: garlic, tomatoes, carrots.• First years – 2001 to 2003 – There was a very small distribution of land. Since then, the pace of land distribution has increased. – Particularly after Adan Chavez took over as the administrator of INTI. – By 2008 – INTI had distributed over 4,624,420 hectares and 105,922 documents of production rights. • Possibly benefiting over 400,000 families.• The redistribution of land might slow down as quality idle lands become scarce and the development of infrastructure and consolidation of agricultural production units transforms into the focus of the agrarian reform.• According to the Zamorano National Development Project (2007-2008), the government provided close to US $4.9 billion between 2002 and 2007 in financing.• Reduction of poverty from 62.1 percent to 31.5 percent (2003 to 2008)• Improvement in HDI from .69 in 1998 to .84 in 2008.• Upcoming census results may indicate an improvement in Venezuela’s land Gini coefficient.
Fundos Zamoranos and Their Organizational Structure• Bring about an integral rural development and an increase in agricultural production, while emphasizing socialist values of cooperation and solidarity.• Major differences in size and number of cooperative members in different Fundos Zamoranos – Differences related to geographical conditions – Shared basic organizational structure • Vocero, Casa Zamorana, Cooperative Members (Mision Vuelvan Caras)
History of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt• Cooperatives formed in Mision Vuelvan Caras decided to invade the farm La Argentina during the fall of 2003, after it had been declared idle and unproductive by the INTI• Located between two rivers, La Argentina contained 5,213 hectares of medium quality land.• The Bermudez Association – were primarily absentee land owners who grazed a few heads of cattle at La Argentina under natural pastures, having no fences and a limited number of dirt roads.• La Argentina collected revenues from the government for having a major governmental electrical installations running across its property.• During the first year, the cooperatives requested the aid of the federal government, as they were continuously harassed by the Bermudez Association. – To provide the campesinos with protection, the government stationed an army battalion on the lands of the fundo.• In 2004, the Bermudez association agreed to reduce their land hounds from the original 5,213 hectares to 382 hectares, or 7.3 percent of the original holdings.• After two years of existence, the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt was officially constituted on June 5th, 2005.• 13 production units originally obtained cartas agrarias at Alejandro de Humboldt. This letters must be renewed every two years
Goals and Objectives of the Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt• First Stage – (2005 -2008) – investing in vegetable production. The fundo is attempting to become sustainable and provide sustenance for the families of its members• Second Stage (2009 -2013) – the fundo moved towards animal production, primarily cattle ranching, and continue to expand its vegetable production.• Third Stage (2014 - 2020) – The fundo is to focus on expanding its production in order to fulfill Venezuela’s development goal of attaining agricultural self- sufficiency.
The Struggle against Capitalism and an Individualist Mentality• Movement away from individualist values has been difficult.• The fundo is attempting to move away from “el neoliberalismo salvaje”.• According to the Vocero, Chavez’s socialism of the twenty first century includes the recreation of Che Guevara’s new man, an emphasis on cooperation between members, and the creation of cooperatives of agrarian production.• Most of the members who attended Mision Vuelvan Caras had no previous experience in working in cooperatives or collective enterprises. – In a six month period, participants of Vuelvan Caras learned to work in cooperatives and work as agricultural producers – The short learning period led to problems within cooperative administration and member retention.• The vocero has advocated the creation of classes to teach members and government workers how to better function within cooperatives and the goals of a socialist society.
Organization of Fundo Zamorano Alejandro de Humboldt• The fundo was composed of 14 different cooperative associations, three civil associations, and two independent producers. – Civil associations: composed of producers or agronomists who join together to produce in a piece of land with no profit objective. – Independent producers: are private enterprises who employ workers to bring a piece of land into production. – Cooperative associations: were composed of either lanceros (graduates of Vuelvan Caras) or non-lanceros.• The speaker of the fundo, or Vocero was attempting to consolidate the fundo as a cooperative of the second degree.• Hired workers were utilized by every production unit, and some of them were interested in eventually becoming members of a cooperative.