Friday, May 12, 2006

On Chavez's watch poverty is down 

One of the main assertions in the international propaganda efforts against Chavez is that despite his professed love for the poor poverty is actually up under Chavez. Of course, that lie was already rebutted on this blog here, here, and here.

Today we get yet more evidence of the decline in poverty under Chavez in an article published in today's El Universal. Along with the article they published a nice little graph showing the evolution of the poverty statistics since 1998:

Just to remind people of where these numbers are coming from poverty is measured solely based on monetary income that households receive (ie, in-kind benefits like free medical care from Barrio Adentro are not included) in relation to the monies needed to purchase basic necessities. If you don't earn enough to by all your basic food, clothing, shelter, and transportation necessities you are considered poor. If you can't afford even the basic food items you are considered to be in extreme poverty. Note that on the graph the top line is inclusive of those in extreme poverty, i.e. it is the TOTAL number of poor in Venezuela.

Clearly poverty has fluctuated significantly during Chavez's term. For the first several years it trended down. Then, with the sharp economic contraction of 2002 and 2003, brought about in large part by the opposition led oil strike, it shot up to levels even higher than in 1998. But with the strong economic recovery since 2003 it has again declined. The overall poverty rate at the end of 2005 of 37% is down more than 5 percentage points from the 43.9% rate that Chavez inherited and extreme poverty is down to 15% from the 17.1% that he inherited (curiously extreme poverty had been even lower but shot up in the second half of last year). This sharp decline in poverty is in line with the dramatic rise in income of the poorest segments of Venezuelan society which we saw documented here.

So the facts are very clear. Chavez has successfully reduced poverty (and remember this doesn't count all of the effects of the social programs many of which are in-kind and not counted in these numbers). The opposition can lie all they want but Chavez set out to help the poor and has successfully done just that.


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