CARACAS (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez yesterday launched a programme to provide $100 a month to poor Venezuelan children in the latest of a plethora of social “missions” that have underpinned his popularity.
Chavez, who will seek re-election next year, says such measures show the tangible benefit of socialist rule in the South American OPEC nation. But critics argue it is a pre-vote ploy masking broader economic failure.
“Thank God, the Bolivarian Revolution arrived in time and is stopping poverty and misery,” Chavez said, announcing the initiative at a meeting with low-income pregnant women. He styles his government after independence hero Simon Bolivar.
Under the Great Sons of Venezuela Mission, low-income households will be able to claim 430 bolivars ($100) per month from the government for each child, up to a maximum of three. Disabled dependents will qualify for 600 bolivars.
Chavez supporters say the latest social project, adding to a dozen such missions covering everything from healthcare to low-cost housing, prove how Venezuela’s oil wealth is being properly distributed for the benefit of the poor.
The president also said another project would be launched today widening the state pension to include “thousands and thousands” of elderly people excluded from the benefit because they never made payroll contributions.