Chavez Announces $3 Billion for Venezuela’s “Energy” Revolution

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez approved funds and announced new plans for an "energy" revolution on his weekly talk show Aló Presidente yesterday. The president also inaugurated a new "socialist" community of houses built from oil derivatives.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during his talk show Aló Presidente on Sunday. (Prensa Miraflores)

March 31, 2008 ( Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez approved funds and announced new plans for an "energy" revolution on his weekly talk show Aló Presidente yesterday. The president inaugurated a new "socialist" community of houses built from oil derivatives, and announced that Venezuela would be a major producer of oil derivatives such as fertilizers and plastics by the year 2013.

Broadcasting from the central state of Carabobo, President Chavez toured a new community of 459 houses made of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic material produced from petroleum. Venezuela's state-owned petrochemical industry produces the PVC from the by-products of the oil industry, making it cheaper than traditional building materials.

The first of its kind, the community is entirely made up of houses from the Venezuelan state company Petrocasa, which manufactures the plastic forms to be filled with concrete. Venezuela plans to construct these "socialist" communities around the country, and around 60,000 houses of this kind per year.

"This is the first Petrocasa community that we have inaugurated, but we are going to fill Venezuela with these houses," Chavez said.

The new housing program is only one part of what President Chavez calls the "energy" revolution, a program to develop various industries for the processing of raw materials, such as the petrochemical industry.

Chavez announced that the Venezuelan government will invest around $20 billion over the next six years in the development of 52 industrial projects, and approved a total of $2.96 billion to be invested this year. The president emphasized that under previous governments these kinds of investments were not possible.

"Before, to make this kind of investment, they had to call the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, or turn the country over to international investors. Not now, because we have created our own development funds," he said.

The investments will come from Venezuela's national development fund Fonden, which, as Chavez noted, now has around $35 billion dollars available for investment in the country's development. The national development fund is fed by a portion of state income diverted from the nation's international reserves.

Chavez emphasized that many of the new industrial projects will be placed in the southern region of the country to give economic development to poorer, underdeveloped areas. The government also estimates that more than 600,000 new jobs will be created as a direct result of the program.

The president talked by satellite to leaders from a nearby community where another 700 of the new houses are being constructed, but he insisted that the government speed up the construction of new housing, and proposed a new tax on oil profits to pay for it.

"We have to increase the pace of replacing shantytowns with real communes, and communities," said Chavez, "where the people can live fully, with the highest sum of happiness."

Chavez also talked by satellite to Food Minister Felix Osorio for the inauguration of a new "Mercal," the government-subsidized food markets. He reiterated that Venezuela is working to become self-sufficient in its food supply, and thanked the governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay for providing new technology needed to install factories in Venezuela for the production of foodstuffs.

He added that Venezuela will soon be self-sufficient in food production, but until enough food can be produced domestically, they will continue to import food from their neighbors.

"We are working on projects to produce all the chicken that we consume. But, meanwhile, since our national production isn't enough, we are bringing the best production from Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, and other countries," Chavez said.

The Venezuelan president also insisted that the United States government was carrying out plans to create food shortages in the country in order to destabilize his government. He made reference to the previous cases of Nicaragua and Cuba, where the US government blocked food imports with the intention of destabilizing their governments.

"When Bush talks about food shortages, he's not talking about the reality, but rather his desires. But I guarantee that we are going to defeat him, because now the people of Venezuela are better fed; and not only with food, but with health, housing, work, and industry," he said.