CARACAS, Monday November 18, 2013 | Update
INTERVIEW | Marino J. González, MUD coordinator

"We face a situation of economic and social emergency"

"Between 2007 and 2011 extreme poverty increased by 4% to three million people"

Marino J. González points to the government ethical problem (Oswer Díaz)
Monday November 18, 2013  04:57 PM
Marino J. González is positive that after Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro ordered on TV to "empty shelves of stores," his government has more troubles to convince Venezuelans that it is well on its way. González is certain that should the government keep such "clumsiness," the number of votes for the opposition Unified Democratic Panel (MUD) will grow more and more.

A physician and Ph. D. of Public Policy, González is MUD international advisor and coordinator of the Technical Team that prepared the Guidelines for Municipal Governance 2013-2017 and the Commitment to Municipal Governance for Progress and People.

In this talk, he provided data collected from two recent surveys, which found that Venezuelans do know what they can expect from a municipal election.

- What do the surveys reveal?

- We conducted an analysis with a municipal focus. After six months of government, 65%-70% refuses the public administration. Asked about their problems, 80% mentioned insecurity; 60% shortage, and in the third and fourth places, economic problems and services. In light of this situation, the government should at least ask to itself: "What are we doing?" As evidenced in those surveys, a profound social crisis must be operating here in low-income sectors. Between 2007 and 2011, extreme poverty grew 4%. That puts three million Venezuelans in such situation.

- Those, (opposition leader) Henrique Capriles Radonski insists on saying, go to bed with nothing to eat.

-Exactly. The blow came from ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), and the government has said nothing. The ECLAC said last week that in Venezuela, unlike what the government said, extreme poverty was on the rise. Back to 2011, they had estimated that 13% of the population was in such situation. In a nutshell, in the report (Social Outlook 2012), the ECLAC advised the government: "You'd better do well your accounts because you are calculating growing income bearing in mind the whole public utility basket, instead of the value of food." Afterwards, there was inflation in 2012 and this year, it already rounds 50%, the highest since the mid-nineties.

- And that gets worse with the high level of scarcity.

- There is still something more serious: when the missions (welfare programs) began (under the government of late President Hugo Chávez, in 2002), the coverage of Mercal (government sponsored food distribution network) was 30% or more. At this time, our studies tell that it does not reach even 20%. There must be some deterioration in the purchasing power of families, probably among the highest ever in the country. Still worse, missions are tearing to pieces and were used in an exclusive way, with little transparency. As a matter of fact, they are not listed in ECLAC social protection systems, precisely for being inconsistent with an appropriate social protection system. The country undergoes a production economic crisis and a crisis as to taking care of the most vulnerable sectors, and that is clear when people say that shortage is the problem.

- So, what can be done?

- We are in a situation of economic and social emergency and there is no time to lose. Two macro-measures should be taken: understanding that producing is the point and mechanisms different from restrictions and onslaught on the productive sectors should be found, and dealing with the social issue. A program with massive assistance resources to tackle the problem arising from inflation and shortage is a must. That must be done right away.

Translated by Conchita Delgado