Venezuela’s Chavez Announces a New National Science Program

President Chavez announced a new science program, a "mission," which would create a Venezuelan system of science, technology, and innvoation. The program will be funded with money from Venezuela's excess foreign currency reserves.

Caracas, December 14, 2005 – President Hugo Chavez announced yesterday an initial government investment of $50 million for a national science program (“Mision Ciencia"), scheduled to begin in February 2006. He added that a further $100 million will be made available through revenues generated by the government’s sale of oil.

The announcement came during the 2005 National Science and Technology Awards held at the Teresa Careño Theater in Caracas last night. The event was attended by award winners, special guests and Venezuela’s Minister for Science and Technology, Yadira Cordova, who emphasised the importance of advancing national projects of innovation.

According to the President, this latest Mission aims to democratize the sciences and will be led by the country’s most experienced scientists and innovators. Chavez indicated that the new Mission will allow the various projects that the country needs for its growth in various fields to take shape, with the aim of establishing a model of development which is independent and home-grown.

"We are giving substance to the project of creating a national system of science, technology and innovation," Chavez said.  Quoting 18th century Venezuelan educationalist Simon Rodriguez, he added, "Either we invent or err…" "We are obliged to invent. Each society requires a scientific style. We cannot copy models, as Simon Rodriguez said."

Chavez invited the Ministry of Science and Technology, the scientists present at the event, and innovators to begin working immediately on the design and planning of the Mission. He said the aim was to unite efforts in order to develop the largest amount of projects that will allow independence and technological sovereignty.

Chavez also urged all those present to continue working towards establishing a science that is at the service of everyone. "The country needs a science which is shared among the people," he said.  

In his speech, the president praised many of the programs developed by the Ministry of Science and Technology such Venezuela’s purchase of a Satellite named after Simon Bolivar, and which involves technology transfer and the training of 90 Venezuelans in satellite technology.

The government’s initial $50 million investment in the Mission will come from the recently created Fund for Investigation, Development and Innovation (FIDI), which in turn receives funding from the National Fund for Economic Development (Fonden). According to the government, Fonden has resources totalling $6 billion worth, which come from the surplus of Venezuela’s international monetary reserves.