By Joe Emersberger. Published on 26 January 2016 by Telesur English
An Economist article published Jan. 19 states that poverty in Venezuela “has stayed stubbornly static since 2000.”
The blue line in the graph below shows World Bank numbers for poverty in Venezuela from 1999 to 2013.
Income poverty increased to over 60 percent by 2003 as result of a briefly successful coup in April of 2002 and a shutdown of the oil industry from December 2002 until February 2003. Both these acts of political and economic sabotage were supported by opposition groups funded by the U.S. government. Poverty, as shown in the graph, steadily declined after the government finally wrested control over the state oil company from opponents determined to overthrow the government. By 2013, the poverty rate had fallen by half. The Economist’s dishonesty in saying that poverty “stayed stubbornly static since 2000” is amazing, but such dishonesty about Venezuela dominates the international media’s coverage. The Economist need not fear being embarrassed by any high-profile rebuttal appearing in any Western newspaper or magazine at any end of the political spectrum.
Despite the serious economic problems of the last two years, Venezuela’s poverty rate is probably still significantly lower than its level in 2000, and drastically lower than what opposition sabotage had brought it to in 2003. Recall that we are discussing income poverty which does not account for government provided food, education and housing for low income people.
The Economist article also said that the “IMF estimates that Venezuela’s GDP shrank by about 10 percent in 2015, making it the world’s worst performing economy. The government admits the contraction was 7.1 percent up to the third quarter of 2015.”
We can forgive readers who don’t have time to check the Economist’s sources for concluding that the government has “admitted” a 7.1 percent drop in GDP in the first nine months of 2015. The 7.1 percent figure really covers an entire year: the third quarter of 2014 compared to the third quarter of 2015. The document the Economist cited actually said that GDP fell 4.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015.