Friday, August 25, 2006


From: Student Friends of Venezuela

Since the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous positive change. Chavez' policies and a new constitution guaranteeing social and political rights, have been repeatedly endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan people in ten national elections.

Alongside this expansion of democracy, Venezuela's rich oil wealth is being directed into providing for the vast majority of Venezuelans for the first time.

Free healthcare has been extended to the majority of Venezuelans, tens of thousands have had their eyesight restored through Operation Miracle, and subsidised food is guaranteeing nutrition to the eight in ten Venezuelans who previously lived in poverty.

Social equality is also at the heart of the changes taking place. A Women's Development Bank is improving women's employment opportunities; homophobia is being challenged with the pro-government Mayor of Caracas working to make the capital city a 'homophobia free zone'. The Black, indigenous, and mixed race Venezuelan majority are benefiting from strong anti-racist measures.

In the field of education alone the achievements are formidable. Illiteracy, which previously afflicted 2 million adults, has been declared by UNESCO to be eradicated. Millions of adults have returned to education, from which they were previously excluded by fees and poverty, as free education - including up to university level - is now enshrined as a constitutional right. As a result seven in ten Venezuelans are now involved in some form of education.

To put this into practice, education spending has increased threefold to over 7% of GDP - a greater proportion than in Britain - providing for the refurbishing of 8,750 schools, the building of 700 new schools, and opening up free higher education to more than 400,000 new students.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has responded to these measures with a campaign to isolate Venezuela - showing it has no concern for either democracy or the welfare of Venezuelans. There is evidence of US involvement in the failed attempt to undemocratically remove Chavez through a military coup in 2002.

There is deep concern that further interventions and sabotage will take place ahead of December's Presidential elections, where Hugo Chavez is extremely likely to be re-elected.

Now is a critical time to show solidarity.

Please email us on and pass this letter on to anyone else who might be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Gordon Hutchison,

Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre

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