Caracas, March 19, 2010 (venezuelanalysis.com) – In a nationally televised address Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced a massive expansion of the government’s subsidised food system, Mercal, on Thursday. He also argued that it is necessary to establish a socialist system of distribution and consumption of products, to replace the capitalist market.
In order to strengthen the program, which currently benefits 10.7 million Venezuelans, a total of 1.4 billion bolivares will be invested through the food ministry. With the expansion the program will immediately reach 11.5 million beneficiaries, and up to 12 million in the near future the president told residents of San Francisco municipality, El Silencio, in Zulia state where he inaugurated the El Silencio Communal Mercalito.
Mercal will increase its total monthly quantity of food distributed from 100 thousand tonnes, to 110 thousand tonnes – a seven percent increase.
To achieve this goal Chavez said a further 1,221 Mercal establishments would be opened around the country, 94 of which were inaugurated on Thursday. The new Mercal establishments will include increased storage facilities as well as new stores and “Communal Mercals.”
"The cold storage capacity, that is, refrigerators, will go from 5,000 to 7,000 tons, while the dry storage capacity will increase from 66,700 to 70,400 tonnes," he said.
Chavez also insisted in community participation to ensure accountability and transparency. "We must create a different system to the market, a humane distribution and consumption system, because the market will always be capitalist," he explained.
He emphasised that the country is going through a transition stage, "The Mission Mercal is being transformed, we are creating a socialist system of distribution and consumption to satisfy the nutritional needs of the people," he said.
Chavez stressed that the capitalist market is “the cause of inflation and hunger ", and argued that this reality must be changed saying that the people should be the owners of the land and the produce.
"This is the solution, there is no piecemeal solution. If it’s not integral, it’s not a solution. We must have solutions to all parts of the production chain," he added.
According to figures of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture more than 1 billion people around the world are hungry, and world hunger increased by more than fifty million people in 2009 as a result of the global capitalist crisis he pointed out.
"While hunger increases in the world, it is almost nonexistent in Venezuela," he said.
“This is called social justice. Here up to 15 years ago people died of hunger…that no longer happens here," he said.