The deputies of the legitimate National Assembly agreed in stating that the detailed study of the ‘ENCOVI’ Living Conditions Survey is a fundamental tool to clearly understand the situation of the serious crisis that is being experienced in Venezuela and the needed guide for the appropriate strategies in political matters that will allow a turn for social and economic transformation, and end the regime that has led the country to this terrible complex humanitarian crisis and rescue democracy and freedom.
This is the conclusion of the debate held this Tuesday in the online session of the Delegate Commission on the results and analysis of the ENCOVI 2021 study, a leading informative and statistical reference on the country’s economic, political and social situation.
The Deputy for the state of Miranda, Delsa Solórzano, began the debate by stating that the content of the ENCOVI 2021 survey, is more relevant now, after almost two years after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the midst of the complex humanitarian crisis that the country suffers, where hunger, inequality, unemployment, lack of fuel, endanger, not only daily survival, but the future of the country.
“COVID-19 has directly affected the most deprived, poverty rates have increased. This makes children and adolescents more vulnerable. The quality of education has diminished, the lack of mobility affects the entire country and all areas. Employment has declined further, forcing Venezuelans to live off scraps.”
She maintained that the study reflects that the situation of poverty has generated greater inequality, and women are the most affected. “Disadvantages and gender imbalance have notably increased.”
She asked the board of the Delegate Commission to give the floor to the sociologist Luis Pedro España, a research professor at the Institute of Economic and Social Research (IIES) of the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB) and coordinator of the Project on Poverty Studies at UCAB and the Civil Association for the Promotion of Social Studies (ACPES), who coordinated the ENCOVI 2021 survey and report on poverty in Venezuela.
Two factors that have impacted work and education during the crisis
In his intervention, Professor España emphasized the differences in the results of this 2021 survey compared to 2020, as it highlights how the impact of mobility affected the labor market, especially the popular sectors.
“One of the important and novel aspects of this latest study is the mobility crisis, not precisely caused by the pandemic, because long before the country was confined (locked down) by the fuel crisis.”
He specified that this situation has impacted two large sectors: the labor market and education. Above all, the popular sector that depends on face-to-face work and confinement has not allowed it, such as commercial activities and the provision of services, repairs, installations and construction, these are the most affected jobs.
He argued that what confinement did was to worsen the economic recession, because it was not discussed how much the country could stop (slow down), coupled with the fact that the healthcare system is very weak. He said that the impact on the labor market is very significant.
“Half of the Venezuelan population is inactive, of the number of Venezuelans between ages 15 and 65, more or less 21 million people, of whom half are not working or not even looking for work, of these 10 million about half are inactive but would like to work, but some of them have already lost hope of getting a job, that is, they are in a situation of discouraged unemployment, 16 percent of the total economically active population is in this condition.”
He explained that there are people who have visible jobs who work less than 15 hours a day who would like to work more, that is 11 percent of the total population, then there is the gender issue, 7.6 percent of women have the responsibility of caring for children or the elderly, who if they had an alternative and institutionalized social protection system they would enter the labor market.
“If we add those who are in a condition of discouraged unemployment, women who are caretakers and cannot work, the visible underemployment and open unemployment it shows that of the 21 million of the economically active population, 8.1 million of Venezuelans are in a condition of underemployment. In Venezuela, only 35 percent of the economically active population works.”
Mr. España added that this scenario has resulted in Venezuela not producing wealth or income and that is the fundamental cause of poverty in the country, where there are no job opportunities, although the active population wants to work and this will not be resolved if the nation is not relaunched economically and for this to happen it is necessary to stabilize the country politically and institutionally.
Regarding education, he stressed that this is the most painful impact, because the closure of schools for a year and a half has generated serious problems and the Venezuelan society is not discussing it or paying attention to it.
“In this year and a half there was no school or schooling, there were no alternatives, schooling at a distance (online) does not work because less than 20 percent of the population has access to the internet to be able to receive non-face-to-face classes. The activities depended solely and exclusively on the child’s representative, mainly the mothers. 75 percent of the schoolchildren had support from their mother and 4 percent from their fathers. Right here there is a component of inequality that must be reviewed.”
He affirmed that to break the cycle of poverty is precisely the school the tool that gives children the opportunity to better his parents who did not have the opportunity to educate themselves, to be different. On the other hand, a new school year is going to begin in person, but no leveling plan has been made for students who missed a year and a half of schooling.
The debate continued with the Deputy for Aragua State, Dinorah Figuera, who pointed out that ENCOVI shows a panorama that should not be dismissed by public institutions and should be deeply debated by the commissions of the legitimate National Assembly, and analyze with certainty the socioe-conomic landscape and take urgent measures of an institutional political nature to be more effective in the objective of recovering the country, subjected to the harshest complex humanitarian crisis.
She specifically referred to the issue of health and healthcare in general and maternal and child health, how this translates to women, the family and society. She finds it revealing that confinement has led to the loss of disease care controls, “patients who do not come to the consultations to avoid being infected and decide to self-medicate.”
She valued the analysis of the issue of maternal and child health, where it is revealed that the country has the highest infant mortality rate in the last 30 years 25.7 per thousand, a situation that is devastating, as well as knowing that life expectancy was reduced by 2.8 years, and the defenselessness and difficult situation faced by Venezuelan women in the midst of the crisis.
She ended her intervention by highlighting the issue with which the ENCOVI study begins, the democratic institutionality of the country, which places it in a weak state, incapable of responding to helpless and sick people.
“The great challenge is to make politics make sense, to understand that unity is vital, to seek ways of understanding with guilds, unions, political parties, universities, intellectuals. Together, accompanying the people, we must take a turn that allows us to end the political structure of this regime, rescue the right to choose our destiny and take control of our decisions, this is the great challenge in the darkest moment of our country.”
Education has become synonymous with anguish
Then spoke the Deputy for Vargas State, Milagros Sánchez Eulate, and referred to the educational issue, highlighting that education has become synonymous with anguish and despair for parents and representatives, that because of poverty have been forced to diminish and even abandon their children’s schooling.
“As extreme poverty grows, educational absenteeism grows, in any part of the world education leads to development and progress, as the only way out of poverty. Today in our country that possibility is nil, coupled with the pandemic crisis that has led to the closure of the already deteriorated educational institutions.”
She explained that the modality of distance education, as implemented by the regime, does not meet its objectives in Venezuela, due to hunger, need, poverty, lack of equipment to fulfill school tasks, such as smartphones, tablets and computers, coupled with the lack of services such as electricity, water, internet and pedagogical support.
Still she pointed out that there are no conditions to start face-to-face classes, due to hunger and malnutrition, inherent to learning, and in the midst of the pandemic the health, biosecurity, and good nutrition for children, adolescents, teachers and educational workers must be addressed, before being exposed to potentially massive contagion.
Insist on a new social pact
For her part, the Deputy for Carabobo State, Deyalitza Aray, said that this ENCOVI study is a great slap in the face for those who, being directly responsible for the serious crisis situation that Venezuelans are experiencing, try to hide behind lies, manipulation and violence.
She added that ENCOVI statistics have contributed significantly to making visible all the information on the impoverishment process to which the regime has led almost the entire Venezuelan population, “these effects are felt in various acts of oppression and horror, pretending perpetuate themselves in power, without any kind of respect for the dignity of Venezuelans.”
She urged that we insist on a new social pact that goes beyond a temporary political agreement or a collective decision that is backed by votes. This is necessary, but only if backed by an agenda for the processes of change that are required, capable of rebuilding the country as a society.
It is time to act
Likewise, the Deputy for Amazonas State, Rosa Petit, said that the survey on living conditions 2021, the humanitarian emergency and the pandemic took as a central point, based on several scenarios: the loss of institutions, the economic crisis, the demographic changes, the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis generated by the lack of fuel.
She pointed out that when referring to the economic crisis, one talks about the collapse of oil income, hyperinflation, the reduction of jobs, the increase in informality, the destruction of purchasing power, among other factors.
She specified that before the expected average life span was to reach 83 of age by 2050, now it is estimated at only 76 years. She added that the quarantine came when the country was in a semi-paralysis caused by the prolonged economic recession and the application of the confinement measures according to a ‘7 by 7’ scheme that served, in her opinion, for only two purposes to ineffectively avoid contagion by COVID-19 and cover up the seriousness of the fuel shortage, its negative impact on the economy, employment and education.
She was deeply struck by the fact that despite the reality that the country is experiencing with the pandemic: the economic situation; the lack of fuel; and the precariousness of the healthcare system, the regime irresponsibly announced, without taking the corresponding provisions, a relaxation for next November and December, as well as a full return to presential classes.
“Where are we going to end if even the dialogue table was suspended? What will happen to us Venezuelans? It is time to act,” declared Deputy Petit.
Venezuela has become a poor country
Finally the Deputy for Caracas, Tamara Adrián, intervened and affirmed that the ENCOVI survey yields data that is important to understand the dramatic reality of the country. She emphasized that GDP has fallen by 74 percent and is at levels similar to those that existed in the 1930s.
“Venezuela has become a poor country, the oil income has been destroyed. It would have to double its GDP, to reverse the poverty that today affects 94.5 percent Venezuelans of which 76 percent live in extreme poverty.”
She stated that the wage gap between men and women has increased dramatically to 20 percentage points, only 55 percent of women over 55 are working or looking for work, unemployment is worsened because it is not profitable to work due to the “miserable” salaries that are offered , so informal employment has increased.
She believes that, faced with this situation, Venezuelans are forced to persevere and emphasize the struggle through all legal channels, in order to reverse this situation and rescue democracy and freedom.