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Features: Social Programs

Steve Ellner Part II: Is the Bolivarian Revolution a Populist Failure?

Steve Ellner addresses a forum in 2014 on Chavismo in Caracas, Venezuela. (Archive)

Universidad de Oriente Professor Steve Ellner discusses a range of key issues in Venezuela, including the efficacy of state social programs such as the CLAPs, the Maduro government’s controversial Mining Arc, and the role of international solidarity. 


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Is Poverty Still Falling in Venezuela?

A barrio (informally constructed urban community) in Caracas, with the buildings painted under the urban regeneration social pro

This article examines the claim that poverty is rising in Venezuela by examining the country’s latest poverty statistics, as well as exploring current efforts at further poverty reduction.

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Undocumented Migrants in Venezuela Have More Rights than US Citizens in the US

"Bye friend, return soon", says the sign at one of Venezuela's border points (archive)

While most first world and imperialist countries criminalise refugees and undocumented migrants, scapegoating them, promoting racism, and mistreating them, Venezuela welcomes all migrants, and provides them with the same rights as Venezuelan citizens.

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The "Doctors of Socialism"? Meet Venezuela’s Community Doctors

A group of trainee community doctors on a celebratory march in Caracas. Their placards read “healthcare is a right, let’s de

Late President Hugo Chavez argued that Venezuela’s community doctors must be “doctors of socialism”; committed to free public healthcare and community service. These interviews with recently graduated community doctors from Venezuela, Colombia and Bolivia give a firsthand insight into the new kind of doctor Venezuela is creating for itself and the wider world.

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Attending Need, Not Profit: Venezuela’s Experiment with Community Medicine

The February 2012 graduation of the first wave of community doctors, of which there were over 8000 in total (AVN)

How should the healthcare needs of a society be met? Conspicuously absent from international media coverage and under fire from conservative critics at home, Venezuela is developing a public healthcare system distinct from both U.S. market-driven and European welfare-state models. Perhaps nothing makes this system more unique than the kind of doctors being trained to run it.

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Science for Need not Greed: Venezuela’s Optical Instrument Plant

Elias Sanchez with some of the telescope prototypes (Tamara Pearson/

In these interviews with three workers at Venezuela’s new telescope plant, looks at how scientific work and community work can go hand in hand, and how science can be used as a tool for liberation and human development.

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Venezuela’s Dreams and Demons: Has the Bolivarian Revolution Changed Education?

An Alternative School student holding up her placard made for the march to protest the bullfighting in Merida (Tamara Pearson)

Through two very different interviews we get a glimpse of the bureaucracy, corruption, clientelism, achievements, inspiration, and political growth within Venezuela’s education system, all of which are representative of the broader demons and dreams faced in the Bolivarian Revolution and its aim to create the “new person”.

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Venezuelan Education Law: Socialist Indoctrination or Liberatory Education?

Venezuelan opposition activists allege that the new Education Law is unconstitutional, anti-democratic, politicizes the classroom, threatens the family and religion, and will allow the state to take children away from their parents for indoctrination. Are they correct?

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Misión Barrio Adentro: Experiencing Health Care as a Human Right in Venezuela

Entering the Misión Barrio Adentro clinic in San Rafael de Tabay, a town in Merida, Venezuela amazes even the most jaded visitor. The local community hospital, Centro de Diagnostico Integral (CDI) brings alive Venezuela’s social revolution in health care.

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Felix’s Miracle and the Convenio Cuba-Venezuela

Felix Jose Espinoza Ledesma is a cab driver in Caracas. If not for his large print and the way his eyes squint slightly when he reads an address or a phone number, you would never guess that just over a year and a half ago, he was on his deathbed, his vision nearly completely gone, and barely struggling to stay alive.

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Venezuela Launches Primary Health Program for Extreme Poor

The Venezuelan government, yesterday, began a diagnostic primary health project for the homeless, drug addicts, and at-risk individuals as part of the “Negra Hipolita Mission,” the social program that is aimed at taking care of Venezuelans in situations of critical poverty.

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Mercal: Reducing Poverty and Creating National Food Sovereignty in Venezuela

Mercal is the new subsidized supermarket and food distribution network that the Venezuelan government set up in the wake of the December 2002 to January 2003 "general strike." It has now become one of the government's most popular and widely used social programs, providing food to over 30% of the population. What is its background and what are its effects?

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Venezuela: Illiteracy Free Territory

The 8th graduation of Mission Robinson, the program to teach Venezuelans to read and write, honored the 32,509 participants of the program and brought Venezuela a step closer to being a "territory free of illiteracy." A report on the program, its context, and its impact.

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Free Neighborhood Clinics Spread Across Venezuela

Barrio Adentro is a government-sponsored program that has brought thousands of volunteer Cuban doctors operating free neighborhood clinics in working-class districts and rural areas across the country where workers and farmers have had little or no access to health care.

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Venezuelans carry out literacy campaign with aid and volunteer trainers from Cuba

Venezuela's Misión Robinson is to teach 1.5 million illiterate people to read and write this year.

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