Antipoverty programmes in Venezuela

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This article analyses Venezuelan antipoverty programmes under the presidency of Hugo Chavez, the leader of the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ (1998–present). Support for poor people has become the government’s trademark since the creation in 2002–03 of a series of emergency social programmes, the Missions. These programmes attend to the basic needs of low-income individuals in terms of nutrition, health and education. The Missions are characterised by a pattern of institutional bypassing which makes their long-term institutionalisation difficult. Do the Missions really introduce a break with previous social policies? To answer this question, we first analyse the evolution of the Venezuelan social state. Second, we review the development of the Missions, especially the Mission Vuelvan Caras, now Che Guevara, an active labour market programme. Third, we provide an assessment of the Social Missions and identify ruptures and continuities with past social assistance policies. The main contention is that the Missions exhibit a strong pattern of path dependency, despite the ideological and discursive ruptures that have attended the presidency of Hugo Chavez.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835–852
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011


  • social policy
  • Latin America
  • Venezuela
  • poverty eradication
  • Development Studies

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