Created: Tuesday, 12 April 2011 10:42
Written by Sam Mcgill
‘Land of plenty, land of poverty, Venezuela ought to be soaring, a great success story in South America, with exceptional oil wealth spreading prosperity to all’. With these words James Robbins begins his documentary ‘Oil, Politics and Hugo Chavez’, part of the BBC’s Our World series first broadcast in February 2011. Sam McGill exposes this report as baseless propaganda.
Lack of investment in infrastructure?
Full of sloppy journalism, Robbins first claims that little of Venezuela’s oil wealth has been spent on infrastructure other than the iconic metrocable in Caracas, where he sets the opening scenes.
In 1998, before the election of Hugo Chavez, just one fifth of Venezuelans had access to primary health care. The average rate of infant mortality was 19 per 1,000 live births. Health care was a privilege, not a right. In 2002, following a political struggle to wrest control of Venezuela’s huge oil reserves, the Bolivarian Revolution was able to channel profits from oil into health care among other social priorities. This included an agreement between Venezuela and Cuba whereby, in return for subsidised oil, Cuba has sent thousands of educators and medical personnel to create a free health care (Barrio Adentro) and education system across Venezuela. This prioritises the needs of the poorest and hardest to reach communities, whilst providing training for Venezuelan students to become the next generation of doctors and teachers. By 2008 infant mortality had dropped to 13.9 per 1,000 live births and is expected to fall below 10 per 1,000 in the next few years.
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