Venezuela

Venezuela: Guaranteeing food sovereignty and improved infrastructure

The South American nation has been focusing on agricultural production and infrastructure development in order to ensure food sovereignty

Food security, agro-industrial development and investment in infrastructure were some of the top themes addressed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last Sunday during the 377th transmission of his weekly television program, Alo
Presidente.

T/ COI P/ Presidential Press/ CORREO DEL ORINOCO

Broadcasting from the Presidential Palace of Miraflores in the capital of Caracas, Chavez cited the increases that his country has seen in meat production and the higher levels of consumption that Venezuelans now enjoy as a result of the current government’s food sovereignty measures. During the year 2011, the socialist leader pointed out, there was an increase of 8 percent in chicken production as well as double digit gains in buffalo meat and eggs. This has been matched by an overall increase in meat consumption, rising from 16.1 kilos per Venezuelan per year in 1998 to 24 kilos in 2011. Likewise, rice intake has seen a jump from 10.7 kilos before the arrival of the Bolivarian Revolution, to 24 kilos currently. For the same period, Chavez explained, Venezuelans have also seen an increase in chicken consumption, reaching more than 40 kilos per person in 2011 – over triple the figure of 12.5 ki- los in 1998.

During his broadcast, the head of state communicated via satellite with a number of agroindustrial workers and public employees participating in the development of sugar processing and packaging plants in the states of Barinas and Carabobo. In the plains state of Barinas, Chavez received an update from Land and Agricultural MinJuan Carlos Loyo who, accompanied by workers of the Ezequiel Zamora Agro-Industrial Complex, reported an output of two thousand tons of sugar daily from the plant and the imminent increase of this production to 4,500 tons by next week.

These numbers currently represent, Loyo said, 11 percent of national consumption and the goal is to continue expanding sugar cane cultivation. “By 2014, thanks to a financing plan in place, we’ll be able to achieve a harvest of fourteen thousand hectares [34,500 acres] which will bring this sugar mill to its potential capacity of seven thousand tons a day”, the minis- ter affirmed. Similarly, while making contact with workers in the Children of Bolivar packaging plant in the central state of Carabobo, Chavez listened to Leyla Torres, Coordinator of the factory, as she described the process of receiving and encasing Venezu- elan staples. “We’re organized in order to distribute and package sugar guarantee these products for our families”, Torres said. According to plant reports, the Children of Bolivar facility produces 35 kilos of sugar every minute for a weekly output of more than 33,000 tons.

Ricardo Javier, President of the state’s agrarian financing body, FONDAS, also highlighted the fact that profits from the factory are being put to use for the benefit of the workers and the surrounding neighborhoods. “The surplus [from the plant] doesn’t go to private capital but rather it’s reinvested in social projects in the community”, he said.

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS

Chavez also discussed last weekend the question of trans- portation and commented that his government has assigned nearly 4.8 billion bolivars [$1.1 billion] for infrastructure proj- ects in 2012. This includes the completion and initiation of more than 370 emergency road repairs as well country’s states and the Capital District.

More than 300 projects already have funding designated from 2011, the head of state informed, while 148 new projects in 18 states are ready to begin. The socialist President also informed that the state airline company, Conviasa, has purchased a new fleet of planes from Brazil, opening up the creation of further international routes for the Caribbean nation. “We’re buying 20 Embraer planes from Brazil. The cost is $814 million which will come through a financing plan from the National Economic and Social Development Bank of Brazil”, he outlined. Using a map to highlight Venezuela’s geographic importance in the Western Hemisphere, Chavez spoke of the strategic necessity to continue advancing in the development of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. “You just need to see where Venezuela is situated on the map to conclude that it’s an urgent need for us to have a powerful airline as well as the best air and sea ports. We also need railways and highways – we’re at the entrance of the continent”, he asserted.

SUPPORT FOR DEFENSE MINISTER

Apart from food security and transportation, the Venezuelan President spoke out against the reemergence of allegations emanating from Washington accusing the newly appointed Venezuelan Defense Minister, Henry Rangel Silva, of aiding narcotrafficking from Colombia.

Chavez affirmed his “total support” for Silva, after the US State Department called his ap- pointment “worrying” earlier this month. The statement from Washington follows on earlier allegations made by the US Treasury Department in 2008 that the General has links to the FARC guerrilla organization in Colombia – a 50 year old insurgent group that has been accused of drug trafficking to finance its rebellion.

The Venezuelan President dismissed the charges as a provocation of his government, citing the fact that the North American government has not produced a single piece of evidence to justify its claims. “Imagine accusing a general like Rangel Silva of being a drug lord. The ones who are accus- ing are the drug lords”, Chavez said. Speaking on public television last week, Venezuela’s representative to the Latin American Parliament, Roy Daza, lamented the renewal of tensions between his country and the United States, calling the allegations against Silva as “irresponsible, serious, and dangerous”. “When a political relation and even a human relation becomes so cynical, there’s no possibility of dialogue. Our government is prepared to discuss any topic with the United States but this must be based on respect and the proper deference which must be given to a constitutionally democratic government such as
Venezuela’s”, he said.

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