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About the Author

Marianne Diaz
Writer, Lawyer, Activist (Valencia, Venezuela)

Venezuelan lawyer and fiction writer. Blogger for Amnesty International on Human Rights issues. Author for Global Voices Advocacy. Interested in gender, poverty and work issues, and freedom of speech and information.

Post

No one goes hungry in Venezuela: True or false?

Published 22nd April 2010 - 13 comments - 7647 views -

Well, I'm sorry but I need to say it: This might be the biggest bullshit I've ever heard on an official discourse. And that, my friends, is a lot to say.

Well,  now it's out of my system. Thank you for your patience.


Last march, President Chávez stated that. Literally. "No one goes hungry in Venezuela", an affirmation that he might as well have taken from the official report "Venezuela accomplished the MDGs", already quoted in a previous post. Government states that extreme poverty has reduced from 17,1% in 1998, to 7,9% in 2007, and that through implementation of what is called "Mission Feeding", they've assured food to 13 million people (almost half of Venezuelan population).

That official program involves the foundation of Feeding Houses for extremely poor population, and Popular Markets, selling staples at subsidized prices. 

According to the National Institute of Statistics, the monthly alimentary foodbasket costs about $268, while the minimum wage is $245 (those figures are calculated in basis of the official exchange rate, since we are under an exchange control). However, the Centre of Documentation and Analysis for Workers (CENDA, for its spanish acronym), doesn't agree: they place the cost of the alimentary foodbasket in about $460. But "Arepas". Yumm.beyond that, the basic basket (the one that includes public services and basic hygiene products) is costing about $1000. Moreover, buying food has became more of a treasure hunt: several products are unfindable and the distribution is very irregular. Milk, flour, rice, oil, appear and disappear from the shelves. This month, cornflour can't be find anywhere.

And guys, for us, a life without arepas isn't life at all.

That wouldn't be so bad (well, except for the cornflour thing) if it weren't because, according to  the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 12% of our population is undernourished, and 15% of children suffer from stunted growth by malnutrition.

Furthermore, we don't know what (or who) to believe, since there is a poverty rate of 31,70% of all population (that is, 8.648.255 people by 2009). And those are official numbers using the Poverty Treshold method, wich is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country. However, the government prefers to use the figures of extreme poverty when reporting on this, and they claim that extreme poverty is somewhere between 7 and 9% in Venezuela.

I actually don't know how the National Institute of Statistics measures extreme poverty. If they're using the $1,25 mark, that method is indeed flawed, since we're under an exchange control that mantains an artificial pressure over inflation (wich is already of about 30% every year). And if they're using the definition under wich extreme poverty embarks people whose per capita income isn't enough to cover the cost of the food basket, well, let me say that the familiar hypotetical income (two minimun wages) only covers 47% of the cost of the venezuelan food basket.

I, as usual, feel that the statements made by my government are nothing else than its usual hypocresy. The MDG Monitor indicates that the UN doesn't have enough information on this matter to say that Venezuela has eradicated extreme poverty and hunger, but however, the government still says that the UN has, literally, "recognized our achievement of the Millenium Goals".

We're, by now, pretty much used to the fact our government says that everything we see every day in the streets is a "sensation". Insecurity, hunger, pollution. But I've never had the guts to, whenever a kid in the streets comes to me and asks me for a coin that I actually don't have anymore to give, say him in the face that he's a creation of my delusional mind.

 

That yummy picture belongs to wEnDaLicious in Flickr, and it is under a Creative Commons License.

Well, I'm sorry but I need to say it: This might be the biggest bullshit I've ever read on an official discourse. And that, my friends, is a lot to say.

Well,  now it's out of my system. Thank you for your patience.


Last march, President Chávez stated that. Literally. "No one goes hungry in Venezuela", an affirmation that he might as well have taken from the official report "Venezuela accomplished the MDGs", already quoted in a previous post. Government states that extreme poverty has reduced from 17,1& in 1998, to 7,9% in 2007, and that through implementation of what is called "Mission Feeding", they've assured food to 13 million people (almost half of Venezuelan population)

Category: Hunger | Tags:


Comments

  • Julio Henriquez on 23rd April 2010:

    It truly is amazing to state “no one goes hungry in Venezuela.” Amazing for the gross lie. Jean Baudrillard used to say that the biggest lies tend to induce people to believe them, since the public may think that no one would dare to say something so large, so counter-intuitive, unless it was true. His example is the denial of the holocaust, its tremendous absurdity catches the attention of people around the world.

    I wish it was not such a lie, as you say, the biggest bullshit ever said on a discourse from our president. And that, it’s impossible to overstate it, is A LOT to say.


  • Marianne Diaz on 23rd April 2010:

    @Julio: You hit the nail. What worries me so much about the myriad of lies supported by our government about key issues, is that people actually believe them.
    How is it possible that the Viceminister of Water says that tap water is perfectly safe, that does not require even be boiled? What if people really believes him, and drink the poisoned water of Valencia? What can we do in order to stop the lies?


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 26th April 2010:

    Well, facts are great, but don’t you feel certain people and institutions have a duty/obligation according to which you need to hold them accountable?


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 26th April 2010:

    I mean, you probably might, but how about the others… I’d very much like to hear more on that…


  • Marianne Diaz on 27th April 2010:

    @Ivaylo: I can’t even start to describe how many duties I do believe they must be held accountable for. A lot of those are related with human rights. But when there is no separation between state powers, when citizens can’t go to the Supreme Court and ask for their President to be judged, or for their legislators to be withdrawed from their charges, it becomes harder and harder to demand respect of the law.
    I’d certainly love to know how to do that.


  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 27th April 2010:

    Marianne, perhaps by reaching out to others and talking about it - just as you do here. I am sure there must be others who think like you. That being said, do you know any other bloggers from Venezuela?:) It’d be interesting to read what they write as well.


  • Marianne Diaz on 28th April 2010:

    @Ivaylo: Well, I do know lots and lots of amazing, smart and witty venezuelan bloggers, but they all write in spanish. So, for a start, I really recommend you http://www.caracaschronicles.com. And, as they themselves say, you might wanna start here: http://caracaschronicles.blogspot.com/2005/10/readers-guide-to-venezuela-in-chavez.html


  • Juan-Pedro Torres on 25th June 2010:

    Think this might be the biggest bullshit. Yes, exactly that is what I think about the article and the writer. What moral authority has CENDA ever had? Normal, repeat, normal people en Venezuela know that they are all a bunch of sick liars. To begin with, it is possible they were born in Venezuela but their haerts and minds are elsewhere, therefore they do not act, think, behave, talk or love like real venezuelans.
    Nauseatic, fellows!


  • Marianne Diaz on 25th June 2010:

    @Juan-Pedro: Does your comment mean you state that there’s no hunger in Venezuela? And if so, in which data are you based to state that? I don’t intend to offend you as you have offended me, I’d just love you to make me change my mind.


  • Julio Henriquez on 27th June 2010:

    The Venezuelan government realized after a few years into office that they did not have a lot of support neither in the internet based forums nor in the social networks. Thus, they started to invest money in that.
    Nowadays there are groups of fellows who are paid good money to spend the whole day searching the web with the objective to “give their pro-government opinion” to convey the image that the government has spontaneous support.
    That, fellows, is nauseating, not to mention deceitful.


  • Sylwia Presley on 25th July 2010:

    Yeah right! Like ‘everyone has a job and happy life’ under communism in Eastern Europe - those slogans do speak for themselves! Thx for sharing your point of view!


  • Mark Grassi on 19th August 2010:

    The political prisoners on strike in Venezuelan prisons might be feeling pretty hungry..

    But isnt the zero-hunger programme having overall success? I guess prices have been unstable lately but I didnt find them out of reach a little while ago and especially not for things like basic medicines.


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