Internet Access Has Increased by 900 Percent during President Chávez’s Tenure
During the inauguration of 24 new Infocenters on Sunday, March 21, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, strongly denied the information spread by some media outlets regarding the alleged government’s intention to restrict the use of Internet.
President Chávez said that the Venezuelan government seeks to increase access to the Internet and other tools that facilitate access to knowledge. “Our main strategy is focused on transferring power to the people, and the most important power is knowledge,” said Chávez.
The president clarified that a few days ago he had commented on the severe consequences of spreading wrong information via Internet, referring to the news web site that published, for several days, the supposedly assassination of a Venezuelan minister.
In order to prove that the Venezuelan government is trying to increase free access to the Internet, President Chávez pointed out that, since he took power, the number of people with access to this service in Venezuela has increased by 900 percent. “Previous to 2000, only 820,000 around the country users had access to the service, while by 2009 the number increased to over 7.5 million. The dramatic rise in Internet access highlights the democratization of information technologies implemented by the Venezuelan government.”
Furthermore, the Venezuelan president informed that in 2000 there were 237,537 Internet subscribers in Venezuela, while in 2009 the figure climbed to 1,585,497, which represents an increase of almost 500 percent.
“Nobody informs about this; on the contrary, false news is spread saying that we are going to finish with Internet,” the president said
The Infocenters are an initiative promoted by the Venezuelan government aimed at facilitating access to information and communication technologies by underserved sectors through the consolidation of community technological spaces to transfer knowledge and skills. These centers provide service to more than two million people per year.
Venezuela Ranked First in Internet Access in Latin America
Moreover, President Chávez pointed out that Venezuela is ranked first in Internet access in Latin America, with 53 percent of the population having access. “We have to work hard so that figure can be increased to 100 percent access,” he said.
President Chávez mentioned the 2008 regional survey Latinobarómetro, which showed that the average in Latin America for Internet access is 35 percent. He added that in Venezuela the service is provided free of charge by the government, through the Infocenters.
“This would cost a fortune to the majority of our population, but since the service is free of charge, it facilitates increasing the percentage of beneficiaries close to 100 percent,” the president informed.
Bolivarian News Agency, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S Press and Communications Office / March 22, 2010