Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in his annual speech to the National Assembly, expressed his desire that the Barack Obama White House would stop foreign intervention by the United States in Venezuela.
“I hope that with the arrival of the new president of the United States, that there is a change in the aggression, the imperialist policies, in the intervention in the internal affairs of our nation by the US government,” Chavez said.
Allies of Chavez in the media recently uncovered what they allege was a secret meeting between four opposition party leaders, the head of the top opposition news channel, and US government officials and advisors in Puerto Rico. Non-government human rights groups in Venezuela have demanded an investigation into the trip.
“It seems as they did in 1958 when they launched the Punto Fijo Pact, now they want to reactivate the Puerto Rico Pact,” Chavez said, referring to the power-sharing agreement between two ruling parties that lasted 40 years until Chavez’s 1998 election.
“There was no alternative twenty years ago because those two parties would take about 95 percent of the vote, and they both represented the same project,” Chavez recalled.
The Venezuelan head of state also had some advice for the incoming US president.
“I’m not going to tell Obama what to do, but by immediately withdrawing from Iraq, from all of the military bases they have all over the world, he could use those billions of dollars to buy medical equipment for the people of the United States, and provide social security, free healthcare, education,” he suggested.
Chavez highlighted the results of his own government’s considerable investment in healthcare and education.
The government’s Barrio Adentro (“In the Neighbourhood”) healthcare program, has constructed 6,531 doctors offices nationwide in recent years, with offices in every municipality of the country, Chavez said. This number includes 479 Integral Diagnostic Centers, small hospitals with equipment such as x-ray and ultrasound, he explained.
The healthcare program “is unprecedented in world history,” Chavez stated, noting that infant mortality has decreased from 21.4 per every thousand live births to 13.4 today.
The “Mission Miracle” eye-care program has performed 594.886 eye surgeries, while dental care, previously reserved for the Venezuelan elite, has improved from four consultations for every thousand people in 2003 to 365 in 2008, he said.
With regard to education, the number of Venezuelans enrolled in school at all levels increased by 1.3 million since 1998, not including hundreds of thousands inscribed in government-sponsored educational programs, according to Chavez.
178,808 toddlers are included in the early childhood education program “Little Simon,” he informed, and 256.164 toddlers are enrolled in state-sponsored pre-school. Meanwhile, four million children now receive free meals at school, a number which he said increased fourfold under his government Another advance cited by Chavez is what he called “democratisation of the internet,” through the creation of free internet centers which are used by nearly 2 million people. Venezuela has the highest rate of internet access in Latin America, according to a regional poll done by Latinobarometro this year.
On the topic of the proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate term-limits for elected officials, Chavez reminded Venezuelans that they would not lose their ability to hold a recall referendum should they desire to remove him from office in the middle of any term.
“Whatever the majority decides, I will follow,” Chavez declared.
S.E. writes for Venezuela Analysis.
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This post was written by S.E.