In Venezuela this year, record-setting rains associated with La Niña have caused the death of 35 people, destroyed the homes of more than 5,000 people, and led more than 70,000 to flee their homes and take refuge in hundreds of emergency tent camps, hotels, and government buildings including the presidential palace. The government and people of Venezuela have mobilized to attend to those most affected.
María Rosa Jimenez, a national coordinator of the Frente Francisco de Miranda, described the civil society relief effort to the state television station VTV: “What is happening is the people are deepening their solidarity with one another, and their trust in the government, which has shown its face,” she said.
“The crisis is the product of the economic and social model we live in,” Jimenez said, reiterating the argument made by many Venezuelan socialists that capitalism has caused environmental destruction that in turn has created natural disasters such as the recent rains.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pledged $2.3 billion (10 billion bolivars) for flood victims, to be drawn from the National Reserve Fund and used toward “an integral reconstruction plan” for every community impacted by the rains. In addition, the government will use profits from the state-owned telecommunications company, CANTV, to pay a 1,223 bolivar ($284) holiday “bonus” to each of the 5,000 families – approximately 20,000 people – who were forced from their homes by the flooding.