VENEZUELA: EDUCATION IN THE PACKAGING

"Mission Mercal (officially launched on April 24, 2003) is a Bolivarian Mission established in Venezuela under the government of Hugo Chávez. The government has set up subsidized grocery stores in a state-run company called Mercal. At present some 11.36 million Venezuelans benefit from Mercal food programs on a regular basis. At least 14,208 Mission Mercal food distribution sites are spread throughout Venezuela, and 4,543 metric tons of food are distributed each day. Mission Mercal stores and cooperatives are mostly located in impoverished areas and sell generic-branded foods at discounts as great as 50%. While the company is heavily funded by the government, the goal is to become self-sufficient by replacing food imports with products from local farmers, small businesses, and cooperatives (many of whom have received microcredits from Mercal). This endogenous development is central to Chávez's stated goal of non-capitalistic development from the bottom up." (From Wikipedia.org, the Free Encyclopedia).

Some of the members of the Boston Delegation to the World Social Forum 2006 in Caracas visited the Mercals and were intrigued by the colorful packaging of some common products such as flour and peas. The delegates purchased some of these products and brought them to Boston. Here, for instance, you can see a picture of the packaging of common self-rising white flour. The main subject of this packaging has to do with education and the Robinson Mission to eliminate illiteracy in Venezuela.

The center pannel reads:

Bolivarian Government.
* Emergency plan for social and economic development for the distribution of food in the basic group.

Self-rising white flour Casa. Because my country can do it, I also can do it! and, Long Live the Robinson Mission! For a Venezuela Without Illiteracy!

Net content: 1 kilogram.

The left pannel includes nutritional information and ingredients, and information about the company that produced it and where it was packaged.

The right pannel is the pertinent passage of the Constitution that refers to the cartoon addressing the issue presented in the center pannel:

Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, Art. 102:

"Education is a human right and a fundamental social obligation, it is also democratic, free and compulsory. The state will assume education as an obligatory function and of the utmost interest in all its levels and modalities, and as an instrument of scientific, humanistic and technological knowledge at the service of society.

Education is a public service and it is founded upon the principle of respect for all schools of thought, with the objective to develop the creative potential of each human being and full exercise of its personality in a democratic society based in the ethical appreciation of labor and in the active participation, conscious and in solidarity with the process of social transformation, and in agreement with the values of national identity and with Latinoamericanist and universal vision.

The state, with the participation of families and society, will promote the process of education of its citizenry, according to the principles established in the present law."

Finally, at the bottom of the pannel it reads: "Venezuela now belong to all of us. Bolivarian Government."

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Thanks to Boston Delegate Christina Brinkley for providing the graphic and calling our attention to this matter. [Web editor]