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From the first half of to the second half of the percentage of households below the poverty line declined from 54 percent to just Extreme poverty has also declined precipitously, from It is important to note that these poverty measures only include income measures and do not take into account the non-income benefits generated by numerous social programs that have benefited the poor.
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In addition, Venezuela has made important strides in reducing inequality. From , Venezuela led Latin America in decreased inequality, and currently has the most equitable distribution of income in the region.
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The Truth: While the inflation rate in Venezuela is relatively high, it has not reached dangerous levels, as is often reported. Inflation was 31 percent in , however much of this was in the first half of the year due to temporary price shocks. In , inflation slowed to around 26 percent.
Over the last seven years inflation has averaged roughly 21 percent per year, but this is barely over the threshold of 20 percent inflation that research has shown to negatively effect growth. The minimum wage has also largely tracked inflation. In addition, while some goods have increased more in price than the general index, some important goods have not.
For instance, since December , the cost of housing, household services, clothing, communications, and education have all increased less than the general rate of inflation. While food and health have both increased more, these are areas where the government of Venezuela has increased access and affordability for the poor. After the oil lock-out and subsequent recession the economy took off, growing 95 percent over the following five and half years.
At the same time world oil prices continued to sharply rise. However, during those five years of rapid growth it was in fact non-oil GDP that was the prime contributor to GDP growth. In fact, from the oil sector was actually a drag on growth, decreasing around two percent a year, while on the other hand non-oil GDP was growing at around ten percent during the same period. Looking at the current recession in Venezuela also provides evidence that the economy is not based on an oil boom. While Venezuela saw negative growth in , this did not have to be so bad.
The country has accumulated massive international reserves, and when oil prices dropped and the economy began to slow, the government could have used these reserves to fund stimulus measures to make up for the loss in demand. With relatively low levels of public debt, Venezuela also could have borrowed money internationally to finance counter-cyclical spending.
Further evidence of this is that despite that the economy shrank 3. The Truth: No specific proof of Venezuelan support for terrorist groups has ever been presented. Groups and individuals opposed to the Venezuelan government, both in Venezuela and internationally, have continually made allegations that the Venezuelan government supports groups on the State Department list of terrorist organizations, most commonly the FARC.
Despite this, no specific, verifiable proof has ever been presented; indeed many of the allegations are based on a single, discredited source see below. Venezuela and Colombia share a border of more than km, much of which is dense, sparsely populated jungle; it is likely that the FARC operates on both sides of the border area.
Although the bombing raid killed 26 people and destroyed much of the camp, the Colombian military itself responsible for horrific human rights abuses and ties to right wing paramilitaries claims to have recovered laptops, hard drives and memory cards that were not damaged in the raid. Colombian officials have leaked excerpts of the documents, exaggerating the significance of the contents for possible political purposes.
Some experts expressed skepticism regarding the laptop documents in part due to how quickly Colombia appeared to find incriminating information. An Interpol analysis stated that it would take more than one thousand years to read through it all, at a rate of a hundred pages per day, yet Colombia began releasing some of what would be the most damning evidence within just days of the raid. Yet the Colombian authorities continued to claim to find evidence from the computer files linking not only the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian governments to the FARC, but also investigative journalists, activists, and others.
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After a phone call from President George W. Although the U. An Interpol analysis of the laptops concluded that because of the handling of the evidence by the Colombian government for days before it was turned over, that it would not hold up in judicial proceedings. The computers and other devices were in control of the Colombia military for two days until they were handed over to computer experts, and then it was another week before they were given to Interpol.
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Interpol did not analyze the contents of the documents, in fact they had non-Spanish speakers evaluate the contents, despite that most — if not all — of the emails and other text was in Spanish. Recently, further allegations have been made about Venezuelan support for both the FARC and the ETA the Basque separatist group that is also labeled a terrorist organization. This made a splash in the media in March when a Spanish judge brought charges against Venezuela claiming Venezuelan support for the ETA. Commander of the U. Although he later recanted these statements after meeting with the U.
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State Department, this seems more political than factual. It is unlikely that the head of the U. As noted above, voter participation increased from 54 percent to 73 percent from the presidential election to the election. This was the result of policies such as voter registration drives that allowed millions of previously disenfranchised voters to have a voice in politics. Participation extends beyond elections, with community councils being a main source for grassroots empowerment. The problems with this approach became quickly apparent.
One was that despite the bustle and crowds suggested by the many billboards, South of the Border was largely deserted. The people I spoke with were passing through on long hauls along 95, sporting the 1,yard stares drivers develop on road trips. There is a generational split over immigration in the United States , and like many younger people, they favored a liberal immigration policy. But what else would you expect from a group of young people who were preparing to travel across the border to the north?
Crossing the cracked pavement of U. In his defense, I was a weirdo wandering around a deserted tourist trap with a notepad, claiming to be a magazine reporter. Then he and his wife left to head north across the border toward home in Pennsylvania. Percio exuded more passion about the topic than anyone else at South of the Border and strongly wanted a more welcoming policy.