These Talking Points provide a guide that you can use for letters to the editor, opinion pieces, contacts with elected officials and discussions with friends, family and co-workers about Venezuela. Your solidarity with Venezuela is very important! Be sure and send copies of your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Since the advent of the Bolivarian Revolution and the first election of Pres. Chavez in 1998, malnutrition has been reduced from 21% to 6%, and there has been a 21% reduction in poverty rates.
- Investment in the agricultural sector rose from half a billion bolivars in 1998 to 20 billion bolivars in 2009 (a forty fold increase), and land reform has returned over 6 million formerly fallow acres to peasant farmers and farming cooperatives from the hands of private owners.
- Freedom of the press, of expression and of information are consecrated in the Constitution of 1999 and in the country’s Laws. A large majority of newspaper, television and radio in Venezuela is owned by the opposition. There is no press censorship as there was under governments preceding the 1999 constitution. Radio and television stations are licensed and have “public benefit” obligations similar to those in the United States.
- Venezuela shows its real commitment to free speech through its public funding of autonomous, community media. Since 2002, 2,015 print publications, 244 radio stations, around 80 digital outlets, and 34 television stations have been added to the rostrum of popular, community based media.
- MUD Presidential Candidate Henrique Capriles has called the Venezuelan government’s housing program “a fraud and a failure”, even though it is the government’s most popular social program, with a 76% approval rating, and since 2011 has built 200,000 new family units under the direction of some 30,000 community councils.
- Accusations of the dictatorial and anti-democratic style of Pres. Hugo Chavez are baseless. Venezuela’s participatory democracy puts management and implementation of social programs in the hands of community councils. It has lead to the formation of hundreds of thousands of cooperatives and given rural and indigenous communities direct representation in the development of resource extraction policies.
- Pre-election propaganda by Venezuelan opposition and their US government allies show that their strategy is to claim fraud following President Chavez’ Oct. 7 reelection. Fraud is virtually impossible under Venezuela’s system of electronic voting which, unlike electronic voting in the US, gives the voter a paper record of her vote to confirm accuracy and then 50% of paper votes are counted to further assure that they match the voting machine records. Former US President Jimmy Carter has stated, “…of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” Pre-election polls vary widely, but even most opposition polls point to a Chavez victory. Averaging polls shows that Chavez ought to enjoy at least a double digit victory over Capriles.
- If things are so repressive under the administration of Pres. Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, why, then, are Venezuelans so happy? According to a study earlier this year by the United Kingdom’s New Economics Foundation, Venezuelans are listed among the top 10 happiest countries in the world. In a similar 2012 study by Columbia University, Venezuela was listed as the 19th happiest in a list of 156 countries, the 2nd highest in Latin America (behind Costa Rica), and the happiest country in all of South America. Meanwhile, numerous recent polls show Pres. Chavez to have a 55% or higher approval rating, including a recent study by the opposition-connected Datanalisis, which shows that 62.4% of voters rate Chavez’ performance as above average.
- Pres. Chavez and Venezuela are leaders in bringing stability to Latin America and in defending sovereign peoples against transnational corporate domination and military adventurism around the world. Venezuela has played a direct role in starting up peace negotiations for the first time in over 10 years to end decades of armed conflict in Colombia. It has been a force for peace and against Empire worldwide, speaking out against US and NATO interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Iran, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. It has created and participated in new and alternative international trade and political organizations, such as the ALBA fair trade partnership, which stands in stark contrast to so-called Free Trade Agreements.