Venezuela: More Gains for the People
Chavez and Uribe, now apparently on friendly terms.
This blog has documented the impressive success of Venezuela's "Mission" programs, started since Hugo Chavez has been in office. They include the eradication of illiteracy in Venezuela this year, the provision of free medical and dental care (and discounted food), in the poorest barrios and most remote pueblos, as well as the back-to-school programs and housing programs...
Add two more notches in belt of the people. A great expansion of the University system to the county (and region's poor) is set to begin, as is an innovative anti-AIDS program.
From the 65,000 students now enrolled in university studies, Venezuela says 100 new universities will be built next year all over the country to allow 365,000 students to begin studying in higher education; including a university for sports and another for the arts. Plans also include an extraordinary allotment for buses, books and computers, as well as lower interest for student loans and many more scholarships instead of loans. A new free nursing program to train 10,000 students was announced as well. Admissions policies will be changed to favor less advantaged students and a new Latin American school for Medicine will welcome students from the region.
Regarding AIDS, the Government has announced grants to 47 NGOs that deal with AIDS prevention and assist AIDS victims in the country. The prevention programs are aimed at those most at risk - street chilren, homosexuals drug addicts, and high-poverty areas. In addition, over 500 Integral Diagnostic Centers (IDC) are currently under construction, which will use cutting-edge technology and specialized staffs to offer HIV/AIDS services. Medical assistance and antiretroviral therapy are guaranteed free of charge by the Venezuelan State, but until now only a small percentage of those infected received care due to the lack of centers and equipment. Te Health Ministry reports that over 80 percent of its budget goes to buy high quality medicines and equipment to improve life quality and expectancy of Venezuelans, including those infected with HIV.
Meanwhile, it appears even more good news should be coming to the Venezuelan people as the Government announced Tuesday that tax receipts are up 67% from 2004 to 2005, representing a $15 trilion Bolivar increase (roughly $6.5 Billion US). The increase is the result of a program to crack down on once pervasive tax evasion from the upper income and corporate spheres.