Archive for October 1st, 2006

October 1, 2006

Lies By Luis Pedro España N in
El Nacional.

during an electoral campaign many lies are said. Normally, it is those that
have to defend an administration that resort to them. Either because they are
the candidate of the Government or directly because you postulate yourself for
reelection, a bad Government can only defend itself using lies and manipulations.

A few days
ago, and as part of the presidential campaign of the current Government I
received a document from the “Miranda Command of Professionals and Technicians”
dated September 16th. a list of “achievements” where the dreams of aerospace
and satellite bases, with dated ideas of XX1st century socialism are mixed with
the dressing of numbers from the “Misiones” and some data on the macroeconomic

The six
page document contains 80 items that could be replied to at the rhythm of the
Hector Lavoe song “Mentira” (Lie). But for the purpose of this article I will only
mention the socioeconomic data presented in which, to protect my own health (laws
which control opinion are in force), I do not reject the possibility that it
may be a maneuver of the opposition, since if that is all the defense that the
Government can argue for its record, maybe it should tell the Miranda Command
(possible) author of the report that popular saying “please do not try to help
me, mate”

start with the fallacies. The document says that general and extreme poverty
have been reduced to the levels that official spokesmen have now accustomed us
to. Without entering into the details again on the matter of measurement and
the different ways in which they reduce reality until they transform it, this
“achievement” is the result of the oil boom of the last three years, which does
not at all seem sustainable and has little to do with an increase of the
productive capacity of the national economy. In Venezuela, one thing is income and
another employment, and on the matter of employment and productivity this Government
has been a failure.

The other half truth has to do with literacy. In our country, like in
many others in Latin America, illiteracy is
the result of the delay in the massive educational exclusion of the first half
of the XXth. Century. That is why illiteracy is concentrated in older people,
mostly women and mostly in rural areas. Between 1990 and 2001 illiteracy
(before Mision Robinson) was cut in half from 11% to 6%. The great reducer of
the illiteracy rate was the mortality rate and that has continued to operate
from 2001 until today. Thus, it is quite probable that the reduction in the
rate of illiteracy and its proximity to zero can be blamed more on the natural
death of our elderly than to alphabetization achievements.

Continuing on educational matters (and now come the lies) the document
says that registration in elementary school education increased and that the
dropout rate went down. The truth is that, according to official numbers, the
number of students registered in primary schools has gone down in absolute
terms. For the school year 2000-2001 there were 666,205 students in first grade,
595,178 and 582,277 in second and third; from 2004-2005, the number registered was
47,498 fewer kids in first grade and 11,785 between second and third.
The same thing happens with pre-school education. Even when the
number of six year olds continues to increase, the preschool registration
numbers continue to go down. From 431,578 registered in 2000 we have now gone
to 393,483 in 2005.

The dropout rate has increased from 3.3% in 2000 to 4.2% in
2004 and the huge drop out rate in seventh grade remains intact. This makes Venezuela
occupy one of the last places in the world in terms of educational coverage for
the middle school levels.

On the other hand the educational missions not only do not solve the problems
of school exclusion, as demonstrated by the Government’s numbers, but on top of
that they are insufficient to take care of the previous exclusion. Less than
900,000 young people are currently registered in that third rate high school
program which they call Ribas and their university inclusion has
now become of new source of frustration.

On economic matters it is pointed out as an
achievement that we now have the highest inflation rate in Latin America, that the
economic growth of the last three quarters will be sustainable if they continue
attacking private property and investment, that unemployment of 10% is at the
expense of the immense and unproductive informal economy and that the lack of
trust that provokes capital flight has only been stopped thanks to the tourniquet
that has been applied to foreign Exchange transactions.