Living conditions in Venezuela have for a short
time gone from normal prosperity for the region to
direct misery for a majority of residents. Rarely has
the situation deteriorated so quickly in a country that
is not at war. Hunger is now widespread and people die
from diseases that were previously easy to cure.
The economic and political collapse in Venezuela has
caused more than one in ten residents to leave the
country soon. Among those who remain, desperation is
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Venezuela, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
In principle, healthcare has completely collapsed.
Already in 2015, alarm signals came that only one third
hospital bed was available and that the lack of
materials and equipment was becoming more acute.
Diseases such as malaria, cholera, dengue fever and
other tropical diseases are now more common. Since then,
the situation has steadily deteriorated.
Between 2012 and 2017, more than half of the
country's doctors left the country, according to a study
by dozens of non-profit organizations. The number of
nurses was three quarters.
The food deficiency is galloping and leads to
malnutrition and pure starvation. In February 2020, the
United Nations Food Program WFP reported that over 9
million people - about one in three Venezuelans - are
not getting enough food. Four out of ten households
state that they have electricity outages daily.
Extensive looting and violent crime have followed in the
footsteps of distress.
During the first period of social government in
power, the trend was the opposite. The proportion of
poor residents fell from around half of 1999 to a
quarter 15 years later. The economic gaps were reduced,
for example through Hugo Chávez's social initiatives,
The Misiones initiatives meant increased access to
healthcare, cheaper food and a greater proportion of
children and young people in school and university. More
Venezuelans gained access to water and wastewater in
their homes and support was provided to the elderly
without pension. Child mortality fell and life
expectancy increased. Venezuela got a push upwards on
the United Nations Human Development Index. However,
many of the social programs were ineffective and
corruption was widespread. When it turned around, it was
quick to execute (see Current Policy and Economic
Chávez came to power with promises of free healthcare
to everyone. Access to healthcare also increased rapidly
in the beginning, with the help of thousands of Cuban
doctors. They worked in newly established hospitals in
poor areas, and doctor visits and medicines were free.
But later, health care funds fell as a share of GDP,
while the economy as a whole began to shrink. At the end
of 2018, approximately 90 percent of the medicines
needed were missing.
According to the law, women and men are equal but
Venezuela is a patriarchal society. In theory, women's
rights are respected, but are often violated in practice
because of stereotypical, traditional values. Women's
trafficking is widespread, but few perpetrators are
Homosexuality is legal but there is no legal
recognition of gay couples. Discrimination exists, but
at least in Caracas there is an open gay world.
A large part of the population lives in urban slums.
Violence, crime and drug abuse are serious problems. In
Caracas and at the border with Colombia, the situation
is particularly difficult. Illegal groups from the
Colombia conflict also operate on the Venezuelan side,
and part of the cocaine trade goes through Venezuela.
The upper class - less than ten percent of the
population - has traditionally held most of the economic
and political power, but now this elite is more open and
diverse than before. It does not consist solely of
European descendants. As the vast majority are of mixed
origin, there are no serious, open tensions due to skin
color or ethnic background, although residents of
African or Native American origin may be subject to
Early on, the oil wealth contributed to the
development of a large middle class, and many of the
poor peasants and farm workers who moved to the cities
were able to make a decent living through work and union
The family, with its mother as a pillar, is of
central importance to most Venezuelans. The nuclear
family is most common, but previously grandparents often
lived in the same house. Whenever possible, the closest
relatives of the nuclear family live in the same area.
Those who have been forced to relocate to other
locations have frequent letter or telephone contacts
with their closest relatives.
The oldest generation or other relatives take care of
the children when the mother works outside the home, but
in the upper middle class there is also paid home help.
During the 1990s, larger companies began arranging
childcare for employed women.
The children in most families, especially daughters,
are rarely left alone and they usually spend the
evenings at home, or even have a family dinner at a
restaurant. Young people usually live at home, or with a
relative, well into their 20s or until they get married.
In choosing a marriage partner, the ideal is to find
someone with the same or higher social status; this
includes someone who is at least as light in the skin.
Heirs have equal rights under the law, but in
practice it has higher chances of using different laws
and regulations to their advantage.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
21 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
97.4 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
93.9 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
3.2 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 1,578 (2015)
Proportion of women in parliament
22 percent (2018)
New police force
A new police force, directly under the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs,
is set up to deal with the crime. The old security police Disip is replaced by a
"Bolivarian security police", Sebin. At the same time, police presence in
Caracas is increasing and police wages are being increased. The military is also
commanded on the streets to fight crime.
Criticized laws are adopted
Parliament adopts a new electoral law which according to the opposition
favors the government. A disputed education team is also pushed through in less
than two days. Another disputed law increases the state's already far-reaching
opportunities to seize land.
Yes to constitutional changes
A new referendum is being held on the constitutional amendments proposed by
Chávez earlier (see December 2007), and now they are approved
by 54 percent of voters. The president can thus be elected for an unlimited
number of terms, which means that Chávez can stand for re-election in 2012.
Setback for Chávez in regional elections
President Hugo Chávez's allies win in 17 of 22 regions, but they lose
important attachments to the opposition, including Caracas. Manuel Rosales,
Chávez's opponent in the 2006 election, becomes mayor of Maracaibo. Shortly
thereafter, Rosales, charged with corruption, is arrested. He denies the crime
and says the arrest is politically motivated. Rosales later goes into exile in
The economy is getting worse
Venezuela is characterized by severe economic problems. Inflation exceeds 30
percent and there is a shortage of basic commodities in government stores.
President Hugo Chávez has announced that the country's cement industry will be
nationalized and that the state will take over the largest steel company, Sidor.