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Venezuela: How Would You Like Your Reality?

By Tomas Sancio | Venezuelan Politics

27.07.05 | According to one of the official news agencies:

"El ministro de Educación y Deportes, Aristóbulo Istúriz, señaló que la directiva de la Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL) admitió que el informe se basó en estadísticas efectuadas desde 1990 y hasta 2003, por tanto no fueron colocadas informaciones referentes a los logros alcanzados con las Misiones sociales. Venezuela propuso al organismo analizar la elaboración de un nuevo método de medición de los índices de pobreza."

In English, that would be:

"The Minister of Education and Sports, Aristóbulo Istúriz, pointed out that the Latin America and the Caribbean Economical Commission (CEPAL) directors admitted that the [2004-05] report was based on statistics from 1990 to 2003. Hence, no information was included regarding the achievements from the social 'Missions'. Venezuela proposed the making of an alternate method to measure poverty indexes."

There are two serious issues that can be pointed out from the Minister's statement:

  • First, the Minister is complaining that the CEPAL is using outdated data. However, if you visit the National Statistics Institute web page, you will find out that the poverty measurements are only available up to the year 2002. You would be hard-pressed to find data from last year in this page. Anyhow, in case the web page is outdated by definition, you would think that the Minister (or anybody else from the government) would bother to provide the CEPAL with recent data, especially if they wanted to show an improvement.

  • Second, the Minister is proposing a new method to measure poverty. Somehow, it seems like UN-sponsored indexes are hiding the Chávez miracles and that new systems have to be in place to read the effect of the Missions. This is quite embarrassing. In order to export his "revolution", the President needs to convince the rest of the Latin American countries that the Missions are something more than Band-Aid measures to keep people from starving. As necessary as they are for the short term, they cannot be confused with true policies for poverty reduction (i.e. generating wealth and not torpedoing it).

Throughout his government, the President has successfully shifted the blame to others for the lack of change in the fundamental economic indicators. In the first years, it was the previous governments' fault, then it was the fault of the oil strike and now it's his useless Ministers and the indicators themselves. These Ministers (in absolute yes-men tradition) even travel abroad to make fools out of the themselves by requesting a change of the rules after six years of government to make their boss (and themselves, by extension) look good. Fabricating reality may work for the government withing our borders, but internationally it certainly won't fly.

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