First published on February 10, 2019
Michel Chossudovsky talks to Bonnie Faulkner on Guns and Butter.
We discuss the economic and political crisis in Venezuela, its history as an oil proxy nation since the discovery of oil in 1918, through successive dictatorships, coups d’etats, a fake nationalization of the oil industry, the Chavista movement and destabilization through financial warfare, with a special emphasis on Michel Chossudovsky’s personal experience there conducting a study on poverty in 1975 as Advisor to the Venezuelan Minister of Planning.
The study commissioned by the Ministry of Planning (CORDIPLAN) (involving an interdiscilinary research team) headed by Michel Chossudovsky was entitled: “Venezuela: La Mapa de la Pobreza”. (Venezuela: The Poverty Map)
The report provided detailed estimates of poverty, focussing on nutrition, education, health, housing, employment and income distribution.
It also addressed the role of government policy. Venezuela’s oil wealth was not used to build schools and hospitals. The oil surplus was largely recycled into the hands of the oil giants and the local elites.
Upon its release, the draft report was confiscated by the Minister of Planning. It was subsequently shelved on orders of the Cabinet (Consejo de Ministros) of President Carlos Perez.
Michel Chossudovsky brought it out as a book in 1978, which created a bombshell. It dispelled the myth of “La Venezuela Millionaria”.
In the period prior to the Bolivarian Revolution, extending into the 1990s, the levels of poverty were abysmally high.
More than half of Venezuelan children suffered from some degree of malnutrition.
Infant mortality was exceedingly high.
23 percent of the Venezuelan population was illiterate. The rate of functional illiteracy was of the order of 42%.
One child in four was totally marginalized from the educational system (not even registered in the first grade of primary school).
More than half the children of school age never entered high school.
A majority of the population had little or no access to health care services.