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How Far Is
The Venezuelan Revolution Advancing?
59 Points

by Miguel Angel Núñez
Washington, D.C.

Miguel Angel Nuñez
Miguel Angel Nuñez. Photo by Nic Paget-Clarke.
Miguel Angel Nuñez is the international relationship coordinator for IPIAT (Instituto para la Produccion e Investigacion de la Agricultura Tropical) and an advisor to the presidential office of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. IPIAT was formed July 26, 1989 in Merida state. The following 59-Point presentation was created for the 2007 National Family Farm Coalition Winter Meeting, Washington, D.C., February 19, 2007.

1) Since April 2002, when we had the military coup and the oil strike, the Venezuelan government has realized that it was impossible to address or overcome structural problems like poverty, hunger, and lack of education without structural changes of the Venezuelan state. The revolutionary government must continue to advance in making structural changes.

2) The government created the Bolivarian social missions to accomplish several political objectives.

3) After three years of really great efforts we have obtained the followings results:

4) The social poverty status has declined by 10%, from 47% of the population living in extreme poverty to 37%, at the current time. We will have to address this in the near future.

5) Through the health missions, more than 210 million medical consultations have been carried out in more than 14,000 poor communities through the support of more than 10,000 Cuban doctors.

6) An additional health mission that we have is the “Miracle Mission” which restores sight to blind people. With these eye operations, the goal is to reach 700,000 Venezuelans in the next 6 years. In that same period of time, we have the goal of reaching 6,000,000 Latin Americans.

7) 1,436,000 women throughout Venezuela have received credit and have organized themselves into 1,389 cooperatives and into 16,421 small enterprises, creating nearly two hundred thousand (195,156) new jobs. (Editor: see interview with Nora Casteñeda, executive director of the Women's Development Bank in Venezuela)

8) 172,899 different types of cooperatives have been reported to be registered. This is a record in Latin America.

9) Nearly five hundred thousand (480,000) small industrial enterprises are functioning due to credits from the government.

10) 1,100 new “socially productive businesses” have been registered as a new type of enterprise for the socialism of the twenty first century. These socially productive businesses can be seen in the mining and oil industries.

11) From the Science Missions, 50,000 small farmers and producers are advancing 520 networks of agricultural and food-processing innovations

In the state of Merida, our organization IPIAT
(Editor: see interview with Miguel Angel Núñez to learn more about IPIAT) is helping to develop and advance fifty-two agroecological projects -- and this is just in the state of Merida.

12) Alternative media are functioning. In total: 207 alternative and community-based media outlets; print media -- 32; television -- 19; radio -- 142; Internet -- 14.

13) Food Missions: called Mercal - the biggest food distribution network (consisting of supermarkets with subsidized food) in Latin America: 13,725 mini-markets; 210 Mercals type 1; 1007 Mercals type 2; 34 supermercales that are cooperatively managed; 393 mobile markets; 117 centers of collective food storage. This network covers more than 15 million Venezuelans.

14) Agrarian land reform:

15) First, we must recall that due to the high dependence on the oil industry, Venezuela’s arable lands are chronically underutilized and mismanaged, resulting in the import of some 70% of Venezuela’s food. While there is plenty of rich agricultural land available, agricultural production is low, only 6% of the GPD. Venezuela’s agriculture sector is the least productive in Latin America.

16) This means that the “Green Revolution” came but has not worked. So we have the special opportunity to advance a unique agrarian agroecological revolution.

What have we been doing about that?

17) President Chavez said in front of the U.S. Congress delegation in 2004,

“For forty years they’ve been talking about agrarian reform, and it has done nothing but reinforce the colonialism of the past. First, we’re putting into effect constitutional principles to obtain a real lasting change in the rural areas -- principles like prioritizing and taking seriously food security”.

18) The land law and processes, explaining it:

“Establish that landowners need to declare how much land they have (and pay taxes on it, as in any country) and how much is under production (and pay taxes on the production, as in any country).

19) If they hold a large expanse of land (more that 5,000 hectares) that is not producing, they will be asked to show that they own the land. Should they fail to do so, they will be given an order in which they have to put it into production. If the landowner fails to make it produce, according to the law, the land can be bought by the government at the current market price so that farmers can be assigned to this land to produce on it.

20) It will not be taken away, but they will be forced to sell it.

21) Along with handing over the land to poor farmers and the landless, the government has fostered the creation of cooperatives and provides technical assistance, special credits, warehouses for sales of produce, and education centers.

22) Here are some figures about that.

23) After 5 years of the application of the land law (which we also call the Agrarian “Letter”), we have regulated 3,499,790 hectares creating 78,436 productive farm units.

24) We have rescued 373 farms from large landholdings covering 1,499,989 hectares.

25) This has also included the establishment of 137 areas of endogenous development, or “development from within.”

26) Close to 7,000 agricultural cooperatives have been created.

27) The agroecological Venezuelan revolutionary process:

28) IPIAT (The Institute for the Production and Research of Tropical Agriculture) has given significant support to this process. Here are some figures highlighting IPIAT's activities in 2006:

Overview of the Agroecological Productive Processes of IPIAT, 2006
No. of Producers
Number of Agroecological Parcels
Number of
Number of Agroecological Hectares
Number of production systems*
In Barinas state
Alberto Arvelo Torrealba
More than 15
Antonio José de Sucre
More than 30
More than 30
In Mérida state
Pueblo Llano
To be counted
To be counted
In Portuguesa state
Coffee + bananas + fruit trees + woody trees
(to be counted precisely)
* to which sustainable indicators have been applied
Sources: IPIAT’s research in Barinas, Nov. 2006

29) The actions that are reflected here have been linked with the following government activities towards agroecology:

30) The creation of municipal growing and production plans in 2007, which means:

31) This year, for the first time in history, farmers are participating in the discussion and writing of the municipal plans. They are selecting six states as a pilot project that are going to undergo a transition process from conventional agriculture to sustainable agriculture or agroecology.

32) How are we going to participate?

33) Applying sustainable indicators (social, biological, and economic) to production systems, which will indicate how the transition process is going.

34) Moving forward the proposal to create an agroecological peasants’ school from the peasants’ visions.

35) Keep advancing the activities of IPIAT and other organizations in certain agroecological projects

36) Other actions that will support the activities mentioned include the following projects.

37) Incorporating 220 graduates of the Bolivarian University of Venezuela into agroecology activities

38) The advancement of the Latin American Agroecological Institute Paolo Freire, which has the international support of MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - Landless Rural Workers' Movement -- see interview with Geraldo Fontes of Brazil's MST ) and Via Campesina.

39) To advance Merida as the first agroecological state of Venezuela.

40) To establish laboratories for the research and development of biofertilizers.

Projections of Biofertilizer Laboratories in the Agroecological Venezuelan Revolution
# Laboratories
Hectares to be covered
37(2 industrial)
38(3 industrial)
Total: 86
Source: Venezuelan and Cuba agreement. 2007.

41) Difficulties and challenges along the whole revolutionary process.

42) (Including) Extreme delay of the projects, activities and actions

43) The bureaucracy is really heavy and it’s leading to corruption and the opposition-lead media is one of the greatest enemies of the revolutionary process.

44) What we are planning to do?

45) To strengthen the popular power toward the establishment of community councils, which are the most grassroots level of social organization, below the municipality structures.

46) The community councils participate in and coordinate processes in order to integrate the community organizations, social production organizations, and social groups They work towards creating public policies and towards developing social projects to meet the social, cultural, and biological essential needs of Venezuelan society.

What are the community councils doing?

47) Participatory diagnostics within communities, both urban and rural.

48) Writing plans and projects based on true community needs.

49) Developing participatory budgets among community members.

50) Establishing community banks and community control to evaluate projects and budgets to ensure transparency and successful projects

51) We are building a new participatory democracy.

So far:

52) 16,488 community councils have been established.

53) 14,504 community-based projects are underway.

54) 997 communal banks have been created to give credit for the projects. More than 600 banks are receiving money from the Venezuelan government (the others are under review)

55) $543,883.000 in total has been distributed through these banks.

56) Those who have benefited the most are the people coming from other social missions, which are providing basic education. 2,746,777 people have learned to read and write through Misión Robinson and Rivas. Millions are receiving formal education for the first time.

57) Venezuelan economic growth in 2004 and 2005 rose approximately 18% and 11%, respectively. Economic growth in 2006 reached around 9%. Fueled by higher oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP. Private consumption grew 17%. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has fueled a consumption boom - car sales in 2006 increased by around 70%.

58) Inflation has reached 13.7%.

59) The Venezuelan process is having a significant impact in the region with a move towards integration among Latin American countries through: ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americans): the creation of Caribbean Oil Co; Petroamerican Oil Company; PetroSur Telesur (TV station for countries throughout Latin America), the University of the South; Latin American “communities of nations” and many alliances and institutions are working toward integration.


One of the main debts of the Venezuelan revolutionary process up until now is the need to advance and define environmental political actions. We understand that the new socialist ethics will be found in the ethics of sustainability, to survive the critical conditions of our living planet.

Published in In Motion Magazine February 18, 2007

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