Chavez Reflects on Past and Projects Future in End of Year Speech

In his end of year speech Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez highlighted the advances in living standards that have been achieved, announced some key projects for the next year, and called for the continuation of the socialist project in Venezuela.
President Chavez during his end of year speech. (Prensa Presidencial)

Mérida, December 31, 2008 (– In his end of year speech Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez highlighted the advances in living standards that have been achieved, announced some key projects for the next year, and called for the continuation of the socialist project in Venezuela.

Chavez delivered his end of year message on Tuesday from the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, talking for 45 minutes on national radio and TV.

In the first ten minutes he recalled Venezuela’s history, stopping at 50 years ago, when in 1958 elections were held and the three party pact of Punto Fijo was made, “one more betrayal …of the hope of the Venezuelan people.” Browsing a book, he showed photos and newspaper articles, and read quotes from various other books.

Comparing the past to the present, he said that now “we’ll continue giving to the people, what is theirs…Venezuela will never go back.”

“Now we have a people who are full of hope, faith, and the will to struggle, taking the reigns in their hands to construct the country.”

He spent some time talking about socialist values and the socialist path ahead of “democratic revolution,” as well as highlighting the various achievements of the revolution.

Reading through the thick book “Plan of Investments, 2008-2013” Chavez noted various aspects of economic development both planned and underway, and announced, “We’ve been planning the amount of investment … and this is an amount that we can round off to about 100 billion dollars, for the next four years.”

Projects for next year

Reading through the investment plan, Chavez noted that a range of projects will be invested in, including in the areas of livestock technology, industry, electricity, education, telecommunications, wood, aluminum, fertilizers, food, transport, drinking water, and a national train carriage factory, among others.

Some of the projects are already in progress, and with others the specific details will be announced in January.

Among the plans for next year he highlighted agricultural development in the Quibor valley and conservation of the basin of the Yacumbu river, Lara state, whose completion is projected for 2010. He estimated the cost of this project at 1.324 billion bolivars ($US 615 million).

Also on the agenda for 2009 is the construction of a series of processing plants of fish and meat products and sub-products at a cost of 1.7 billion bolivars ($US 790 million), the broadening and modernization of the sugar mill Pio Tamayo in Lara state and Motatan in Trujillo state, and obtaining genetic material to improve the quality of agricultural products.

Over the last ten years

Chavez demonstrated, using a series of graphs, the various indicators of improvement in the country. He asked people to continue working to decrease inequality.

“The gap that there was here in Venezuela, the inequality that there was between the wealthy sectors and the vast majority of Venezuelans was so big that to close it ten years ago seemed like a gigantic task…however in the first decade of revolutionary government the obtained results indicate that we have started to close that gap. And we, Mr. Vice-president, ministers, and all of you, fellow citizens, we have to commit ourselves to continue closing that gap.”

“When the revolution arrived in government, extreme poverty was located above 20%. At the end of 2007 it had gone down to 9.5%, which translates to more than 50% reduction, despite what happened in 2002-3 as a result of the sabotage and the aggression of the Venezuelan oligarchy and North American imperialism.”

“The Venezuela of today, compared to Venezuela ten years ago…Venezuela was falling apart, it was in pieces, today Venezuela is a country that is remaking itself, reconstructing itself, transforming itself.”

He said the achievements of the last ten years were not just remarkable in and of themselves, but for their orientation towards the most vulnerable sectors of the population and that the government would continue orienting its policies towards the least supported sectors.

“Never in the history of Venezuela, in such a short time, has our country experienced such extraordinary change. Only through revolution can this be achieved.”

Chávez also asked people to imagine what the country would be like without the socialist government, suggesting that everything would be privatized and Venezuela would still be at the beck and call of the IMF, with a “neoliberal package.”

“It’s just an exercise of the imagination so that we can realize that what has happened… is no small thing… we can say that we have saved Venezuela…and we are called on to continue saving it.”

Next ten years

“Where are we going?” Chavez asked, and showed a video of the launch of the Bolivar Satellite that happened at the end of this year. “That’s where we’re going [high in the sky]. This, is Venezuela, our country…”

On January 10 China will officially hand the satellite over to Venezuela to be managed in a “completely sovereign way.” “The Bolivarian revolution had to come to put this satellite in orbit, our first satellite,” Chavez said.

Over the next ten years Chavez hoped Venezuela would become a power in moral, social, popular, economic, industrial, energy, agricultural, petrochemical, defense, and development terms.

“I have faith, confidence, and will use all my will and the will of those who are with me, and I ask of all of you your faith, your love, …and your will so that we can continue building Venezuela every day with more resolve and efficiency towards this powerful Venezuela.”

“Here we are today, more awake than ever…. We will never sleep again,” he concluded, wishing everyone a successful new year.