Contents - Previous - Next

This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at


1. Hassan Hanafi, "New Social Science. Some Reflections" (Cairo University, Cairo, n.d.) (mimeo).

2. In the words of Frances Stewart, the "proliferation of internationally agreed human rights with little attempt to define them more precisely, monitor or enforce them is likely to debase the status of human rights. The legal authority of the concept may be undermined, since there is little point in making laws if no attempt is made to define what the laws mean or seriously enforce them. The concept of human rights may also lose its moral and political force. The concept of human rights will come to be regarded as a fairly harmless way of occupying members of the UN General Assembly, international lawyers, and some academics." "Basic Needs Strategies, Human Rights and the Right to Development," Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 3 (1989).

3. On the relations between ends and means in modern technology, see Langdon Winner, Autonomous Technology (Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought) (MIT Press, Cambridge, 1977), especially chapter 6.

4. See Edgardo Lander, Contributíon a crítica del marxismo realmente existente: Verdad, ciencia y tecnologia (Contribution to the Critique of Marxism as It Actually Exists: Truth, Science, and Technology) (Consejo de Desarrollo Científico y Humanístico, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, 1990), 111.4: "Parenthesis epistemologico: concocimiento y libertad" (Epistemological Parenthesis: Knowledge and Freedom).

5. On science as one among many possible alternative cultural options and scientific ideology as a threat to democracy, the works of Paul Feyerabend are particularly illuminating. See Science in a Free Society (New Left Books, London, 1978).

6. United Nations University, "Project Document. Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development" (UNU, Tokyo, revised 20 November 1986), p. 4 (mimeo).

7. "Popular Sovereignty, State Autonomy and Private Property" (Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, Chicago, 1984) (mimeo). Quoted in Samuel Bowels and Herbert Gintis, Democracy and Capitalism. Property, Community and the Contradictions of Modern Social Thought (Basic Books Inc., New York, 1986), p. 182.

8. Dorothy Nelkin, Technological Decisions and Democracy. European Experiments in Public Participation (Sage Publications, Beverly Hills/London, 1977), p. 12.

9 Nelkin (note 8 above), p. 10

10. Nelkin (note 8 above), p. 8.

11. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Technology on Trial. Public Participation in Decision-making Related to Science and Technology (Paris, 1979).

12. Conflicts related to the basic reshaping of traditional society by modern science and technology are by no means unique to contemporary third-world countries. In most of the Western world urban industrial society developed as a traumatic process which was harshly imposed upon the majority of the population. A particularly clear societal perception of the dilemmas between two alternative and conflicting social and cultural orders occurred in the United Kingdom in the 1830s. Only after industrial civilization, with its new conception of time, its work ethics, schedules, and rhythms, had been thoroughly imposed in spite of widespread popular opposition, only after at least one generation of workers had been socialized in the new culture of industrial society, was voting granted to the working class. Nothing resembling a democratic decision-making process characterized the English transition to industrial society. On the creation of work discipline and transformations in the conception of time in the English Industrial Revolution see E. P. Thompson's classic paper, "Time, Work-discipline, and Industrial Capitalism", Past and Present (Oxford), no. 38 (1967).

13. On the relation between technological options and basic needs in the third world, see Frances Stewart, Technology and Underdevelopment (Macmillan, London, 1977), and Planning to Meet Basic Needs (Macmillan, London, 1985).

14. The model of development characteristic of the NlCs in South-East Asia - based on the export of industrial goods to developed countries - is not likely to be a successful strategy for most of the peripheral world. The world economy is not expanding at the same rate as it did before the oil crisis in the early 1970s, when there was a rapid increase in the demand for imported industrial goods by developed countries. There is increased political pressure within developed countries to protect industrial employment by multiplying tariffs and other commercial barriers for imported goods. On the other hand, the success of the export-driven strategy by a handful of countries with limited populations had much to do with the size of their economies in relation to that of their export markets. There would be a qualitative change of scale if the same strategy were adopted by countries with combined populations hundreds of times greater than that of the Four Tigers. See Journal of Development Studies, Special Issue on "Third World Industrialization in the 1980s: Open Economies in a Closing World," vol. XXI, no. I (1984).

15. For a critical discussion of the social and economic implications of the Green Revolution and modern agribusiness in third-world food production and consumption, see Andrew Pearse, Seeds of Plenty, Seeds of Want. Social and Economic Implications of the Green Revolution (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1980); Barbara Dinham and Colin Hines, Agribusiness in Africa. A Study of the Impact of Big Business on Africa's Food and Agricultural Production (Africa World Press, Trenton, 1984); and Kumar Rupesinghe, "Export Orientation and the Right to Food: The Case of Sri Lanka's Agricultural Promotion Zones," in Asbjorn Eide, Wenche Barth Eide, Susantha Goonatilake, Joan Gussow, and Omawale, Food as a Human Right (United Nations University, Tokyo, 1984).

16. Saneh Chamarik, "Technological Self-reliance and Cultural Freedom," in C.G. Weeramantry, ea., Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development (United Nations University, Tokyo, 1990), p. 46.

17. Thus, for example, the United Kingdom has had the resources to deal with industrial and automobile pollution in London, while the levels of contamination in third-world cities tend only to increase.

18. On international trade in toxic waste, see Jim Yallette, "El comercio internacional de desechos. Inventario de Greenpeace" (International Trade in Waste. A Greenpeace Inventory) (Greenpeace, Luxembourg, January-February 1990) (mimeo).

19. H.C.F. Mansilla, "La percepción sociopolítica de los problemas ecológicos y recursos naturales en America Latina" (The Sociopolitical Perception of Ecological Problems and Natural Resources in Latin America), Nueva sociedad, no. 87 (1987): 120.

20. Julio Cesar Pineda, "Consideraciones sobre el tratado de proscripción de las armas nucleares en America Latina. Tratado de Tlatelolco: su aplicabilidad y eficacia" (Considerations on the Treaty Bannig Nuclear Weapons in Latin America. The Tlatelolco Treaty: Its Applicability and Efficiency) (Caracas, n.d.) (mimeo).

21. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, I June 1989), p. 4.

22. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 11 February 19X3), p. 6. "The nuclear weapons issue surfaced - once again - in the Brazilian press. The fuss started after army minister General Leonidas Pires Goncalves reportedly said - and later denied - that he had called for the country to develop nuclear weapons to offset a possible threat from neighboring Argentina. The threat would ostensibly be Argentina's ability to produce a nuclear bomb and its supposed claim on Rio Grande do Sul, a state on Brazil's southern border with Argentina. . . The controversy was not an isolated event. It came in the light of statements by Brigadier Hugo de Oliveira Paiva, director of the Centro Tecuológico de Aeronáutica (CTA) in São Jose dos Campos, who said that Brazil is able to build its own atomic bomb. Building a bomb, says Paiva, is an issue in the hands of the national security council (CSN) and 'depends only upon a political decision.'" Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 18 October 1985), p. 6.

23. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 18 October 1985), p. 27.

24. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 11 February 1983), p. 6.

25. See note 24 above.

26. See note 24 above.

27. Christopher Flavin, Reassessing Nuclear Power: The fallout from Chernobyl, Worldwatch Paper 75 (Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C., 1987), p. 45, note 103.

28. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, I0 July 1986), p. 6.

29. Flavin (note 27 above), p. 54, table 9.

30. Flavin (note 27 above), p. 45, note 103.

31. Flavin (note 27 above).

32. The following is a selection from the ample Latin American literature on this general perspective: CEPAUR, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Desarrollo a escala humana: Una opcíon para el futuro (I)evelopment on a Human Scale: An Option for the Future), Development Dialogue, Special Issue (1986); Anibal Pinto, "Notes sobre estilos de desarrollo en America Latina" (Notes on Styles of Development in Latin America), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 1 (1976); Marshall Wolfe, "Pare 'otro desarrollo': Requisitos y proposiciones" (For "Another I>evelopment": Requirements and Propositions), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 4 (1977); Gorge Graciarena, "Poder y estilos de desarrollo. Una perspective heterodoxa" (Power and Develop ment Styles: A Heterodox Perspective), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 1 (1976); Enrique Oteiza, ea., Autoafirmacion colectiva: Una estrategia alternativa de desarrollo (Collective Self-affirmation: An Alternative Development Strategy) (rondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City, 1983); Gonzalo Martner and Enzo Falleto, eds., Repensar el futuro: Estilos de desarrollo (Rethinking the Future: Styles of Development) (Nueva Sociedad, Caracas, 1986).

33. Amilcar O. Herrera, "Science, Technology and Human Rights: A Prospective View," in Weeramantry (note 16 above); Amilcar Herrera, "Prospective científica y tecnológica: Un marco de referencia" (Scientific and Technological Prospective: A Frame of Reference), Cuadernos para a discussao, no. 1 (1984).

34. For further critical debates in relation to the dominant model of technological development in Latin America, see: CLACSO, David y Goliath (Special Issue on technology), vol XVII, no. 51 (1987), and Fernando Garcia Cambeiro, ea., Identidad cultural, ciencia y tecnología Aportes para un debate latinoamericano (Cultural Identity, Science, and Technology. Contributions for a Latin American Debate) (Colección Estudios Latinoamericanos, Buenos Aires, 1987).

35. Rita McWilliams Tullberg, "La deuda externa por gastos militares en los páises en desarrollo no petroleros, 1972-1982" (Foreign Debt Due to Military Expenditures in Non-oil-producing Developing Countries, 1972-1982), Comercio exterior, vol. 37, no. 3 (1987): 196-203.

36. "Brazil: Leading Arms Dealer," Latin American Times (business and financial intelligence newsletter), vol. 8, no. 9 (1988): 1.

37. "Industry Gears Up for Arms Output. Mobilization Scheme Has Already Involved 350 Firms," Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 10 January 1984), p. 7.

38. "Preparing for a 'High-tech' Leap. Exocet has a Home-grown Rival," Latin American Regional Reports (London, 9 August 1985), p. 5.

39. In Brazil and Chile this veto power of the military has been explicitly incorporated in the new constitutions that prepared the way for civilian governments.

40. See Origenes (Mexico City, April 1986).

41. On the environmental impact of the dominant style of development in Latin America see: Raul Prebisch, "Biósfera y desarrollo" (The Biosphere and Development); Nicolo Gligo, "La dimension ambiental en el desarrollo agrícola de America Latina" (The Environmental Dimension of Agricultural Development in Latin America); Fernando H. Cardoso, "Desarrollo y medio ambiente en Brazil" (Development and Environment in Brazil); Mostafa K. Tolba, "Los actuales estilos de desarrollo y los problemas del medio ambiente" (Present Styles of Development and Environmental Problems), in Revista de la CEPAL, no. 12 (1980); Roberto Guimaraes, "La ecopolitica en el desarrollo del Brasil" (Ecopolitics in the Development of Brazil), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 38 (1989); Osvaldo Sunkel and Nicolo Glico. eds., Estilos de desarrollo y medio ambiente en América Latina (Styles of Development and Environment in Latin America), (rondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City, 1980), two vols.

42. Philip M. Fearnside highlights the relations between scientific expertise and issues affecting the decision-making process in the POLONORESTE Development Plan in the State of Rondonia, in the south-western portion of the Amazon. See "Settlement in Rondonia and the Token Role of Science and Technology in Brazil's Amazonian Development Planning," Interciencia (Caracas), vol. 11, no. 5 (1986): "The decision-making process in use in Rondonia, as elsewhere in the Brazilian Amazon, gives inadequate weight to long-term effects and even to medium or short-term human impact. Among the conclusions that follow from the case of the inauspicious colonization plans in Rondonia is the need to restructure the decision-making process so that agronomic, environmental and human aspects of any proposed development are evaluated early in the decision process. The evaluation must be prior, not only to the physical initiation of the public works involved, but also to the taking of any decision on eventual realization of the overall developmental schemes in question.... Understanding the process of settlement, deforestation and land use change is one of the areas in which scientists can contribute important information to planning. Other areas include estimation of human carrying capacity, consequences of conversions to different land uses, and the functioning of potentially sustainable agricultural and forest exploitation systems.... While research in these subjects should be a high priority, already available information is sufficient to identify many likely ill effects of current development policy.... The decision-making process that can be expected to minimize the human problems surrounding the transition must include evaluations of costs and benefits prior to commitments to any given development scheme" (pp. 234-236).

43. Survival International, Bound in Misery and Iron. The Impact of the Grande Carajas Programme on the Indians of Brazil: A Report from Survival International with an Environment Assessment by Friends of the Earth (London, 1987), p. 5.

44. See note 43 above, p. 13.

45. See note 43 above, pp. 13-14.

46. "At its 1983 annual meeting the Sociedade Brasileira pare o Progresso da Ciencia (SOPC) warned that the rate of deforestation and 'irrational' occupation of the region could wipe out the Amazon forest within decades." Lath, American Reports. Brazil (London, 23 October 1986), p. 5.

47. Sadruddin Aga Khan and Hassan bin Talal (Co-chairmen), Indigenous Peoples. A Global Quest for Justice. A Report for the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues (Zed Books, London, 1987).

48. "Government officials are said to be deeply concerned over the widespread reactions at home and abroad, including front-page treatment in The New York Times, to the late-December murder of leading ecologist Francisco Chico Méndez, internationally known for his campaigning against the destruction of the Amazonian rain-forest.... His critics in Brazil maintained that he was at least partially to blame for the delay of a US$500 m World Bank loan to Brazil's energy sector.... Brazilian environmentalists have launched a campaign to block foreign loans until Méndez's killers are brought to justice." Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 9 February 1989), p. 5.

49. Robert Goodland, "Environmental Aspects of Amazonian Development Projects in Brazil," Interciencia (Caracas), vol. 11, no. I (1986): 16.

50. Goodland (note 49 above), p. 19.

51. "The increasing international concern over the future of the Amazonia is breeding a new variety of nationalism, even xenophobia, among the right-wingers, landowners and sectors of the military. Nationalism and Amazonia have long been closely linked. . . But whereas the campaigners of yore were left-wingers and declared nationalists, today one finds a former guerrilla leader of the local Green Party (Partido Verde) and a petista peasant union leader, both raising the environmentalist banner and briefing a visiting mission of US legislators." "Amazonia breeds a new nationalism. Now it is the right that worries about imperialism." Latin American Weekly Report (London, 9 February 1989), p. 4.

52. "For the military, who see the region as a kind of strategic reserve vital to 'national security interests' any talk of turning Amazonia into some kind of 'international nature reserve' is anathema. There are fears that military objections on 'security grounds' will link up with use of nationalist banners by the big landowners, who have been blamed by environmentalists for much of the depredation of the rain-forest. As the left is prominently represented in environmental campaigns, the combination could prove a dangerous political mix, say some observers." "Condemnation of Amazon Destruction Fuels Dangerous Xenophobic Backlash," Lath/ American Regional Report. Brazil (London, 27 April 1989), p. 1.

53. Speech to the military, El National, Caracas, 22 April 1989, p. A-4.

54. "Summit Highlights Debt-Environment Link. Amazon Pact Presidents Reject Outside Interference," Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, l June 19X9), p. 4.

55. There are, for example, an estimated 50,000 garimpeiros in Yanomami reserves in the Brazilian Amazon. In reaction to a government threat of eviction from 2.4 million hectares of Indian land, the head of the miners' union in the State of Roraima, José Texeira Peixoto, declared: "We don't want war, but we will fight it if necessary." Diario de Caracas, Caracas, 6 January 1990, p. 9.

56. Central Bank of Venezuela, La Economía Venezolana en los últimos treinta y cinco años (The Venezuelan Economy in the Past 35 Years) (Caracas, 1978), p. 11.

57. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 17.

58. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 21.

59. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 263.

60. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 273.

61. Margarita Lopez Maya, Luis Gómez Calcaño, and Thaís Maingón, De punto trio al pacto social (From Punto Fijo to the Social Pact) (rondo Editorial Acta Cieutífica Venezolana, Caracas, 1989), pp. 62-91.

62. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 26.

63. Central Bank of Venezuela, Informe económico 1974 (Economic Report 1974) (Caracas, 1975), p. 13.

64. With very pointed exceptions, as, for example, Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo and Proceso Politico, CAP cinco años: Un juicio critico (CAP Five Years: A Critical Assessment) (Caracas, Ateneo de Caracas, 1978).

65. This is the Venezuelan Investment Fund. In 1974 this financial fund administered resources of the same magnitude as the total national budget in the previous year. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 63 above), p. 155.

66. Central Bank of Venezuela, Informe económico 1986 (Economic Report 1986) (Caracas, 1987), p. 133.

67. World Bank, Informe sobre el desarrollo mundial 1989 (Report on World Development 1989) (Washington, D.C., 1989), p. 229, table 21.

68. Central Bank of Venezuela, Informe económico 1988 (Economic Report 1988) (Caracas, 1989), pp. 60, 61, and 68. Own calculations.

69. Gustavo Pinto Cohen, "La agriculture: Revision de una Ieyenda negra" (Agriculture: Review of a Black Legend), in Mosés Naim and Ramón Piñango, eds., El cave

Venezuela. Una ilusión de armonía (The Case of Venezuela - An Illusion of Harmony) (Ediciones IESA, Caracas, 1984), p 505.

70. Armando Martel et al., "Perspectives agroalimentarias 1990" (Agro-food Perspectives 1990) (Caracas, 1990), chart on p. 24 (mimeo)

71. CAVIDEA (Venezuelan Chamber of the Food Industry), "La estrategia agro-alimentaria nacional (resumed)" (The National Agro-food Strategy - summary), Vll National Assembly, Caracas, 25-29 October 1989, p. 6 (mimeo).

72 Armando Martel (note 70 above), charts on pp. 24 and 25. "In the course of 1989, food consumption reached critical levels. The calory availability was below the level of the requirements recommended by the specialists in the area, and the pro-tein intake was dangerously approaching that limit. Naturally, the lowest income sectors are very much below those levels . . . Poverty has reached more than 80 per cent of the population and extreme poverty has reached 40 per cent. That is, four of every ten Venezuelans, even allocating all their income to the purchase of food, would not manage to meet their minimum nutritional requirements, and therefore they are subject to a process of chronic malnutrition, in many cases with irreversible effects." Juan Luis Hernández, Armando Martel, Carmelo Ecarri, and Bernardo Gonzalez, "Vigencia y perspectives de la planificación agrícola en la actual estrategia de desarrollo nacional. Caso Venezuela" (Validity and Perspectives of Agricultural Planning in the Current Strategy of National Development. Case of Venezuela) (Caracas, 1990), pp. 7-8 (mimeo).

73. CAVIDEA (note 71 above), p. 21

74. Hernández et al. (note 72 above), p. 6.

75. CAVIDEA (note 71 above), p. 13.

76. A total of 37 per cent of the added value of manufacturing activity is contributed by the food sector. CAVIDEA (note 71 above), p. 8.

77. The large-scale application of medical technologies without adequate studies in relation to their utility or efficacy is a problem in all contemporary societies. See Dr H. David Banta, "Evaluación de la technologia de la atención médica" (Evaluation of the Technology of Medical Attention), Desarrollo tecnológico y salud: Seminario Internacional (Technological Development and Health: International Seminar), Brasilia, October 1984 (Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization, Washington, D.C., 1985) (mimeo). Problems in this area are so severe that the international health organizations have tried for years to promote studies in technological evaluation to rationalize the introduction of medical techniques in developing countries. See Ronney B. Paneral and Jorge Peña Mohr, Health Technology Assessment Methodologies for Developing Countries (Pan American Health Organization, Washington, D C., 1989). Nevertheless, it is in the industrialized countries where the first steps have been taken in this direction, such as some regulations directed at limiting the indiscriminate introduction of high-technology medical equipment. For example, in the case of tomographs, the law establishes limits to the purchase of new equipment in terms of the number of annual examinations performed by the existing equipment, or through norms relating the number of tomographs to the population. H.D. Banta and K.B. Kempt, eds., The Management of Health Care Technology in Nine Countries (Springer Publishing Co., New York, 1982)

78. The same situation is found in the rest of the continent. "For example, in Brazil, it is estimated that 30 per cent of the hospital medical equipment is out of service due to lack of maintenance and parts. In the countries of Latin America maintenance services form part of the strategy for higher profits of the multinational companies which control those services. These companies maintain high prices for the parts and do not transfer information on the structure and operation of the equipment (circuits), which makes their maintenance and repair difficult." Ricardo A.W. Tavares, "Desarrollo tecnológico en salud: Problemas y estrategias" (Technological Development in Health: Problems and Strategies), Desarrollo tecnológico en salud. Seminario Internacional (note 77 above), p. 12.

79. Carlyle Guerra de Macedo, Preface, in Ronney B. Panerai and Jorge Peña Mohr (note 77 above), p. vii.

80. Ali J. Milano, "La crisis de los medicamentos como violación de los derechos humanos" (The Crisis of Drugs as a Violation of Human Rights), International Congress on Human Rights in Venezuela, Venezuelan Central University, Caracas, 6-10 June, 1990 (mimeo).

81. Coromoto Landaeta, "Coromoto Landaeta: colapsaron nuestras políticas sanitarias" (Coromoto Landaeta: Our Sanitary Policies Have Fallen Apart), El Nacional, Caracas, 12 November 1989, p. C-2.

82. See note 81 above.

83. A technological option referring to housing is understood here not only as the technology of housing per se (materials, design, construction technique), but also the plans and regulations of urban development, and the form in which services are provided.

84. "The experience accumulated internationally in housing for the low-income population in Third World countries clearly indicates that the only possible program is a combination of the consolidation of existing spontaneous settlements, with the offer of lots, services and housing for progressive development for the increasing demand for habitat of low-income families." Federico Villanueva, "Una experiencia docente sobre los aspectos técnicos del programa de habitación progresiva en Venezuela" (A Leaming Experience on the Technical Aspects of the Progressive Housing Programme in Venezuela), International Seminar: Housing Solutions Developed by the Low-income Population in the Third World (Caracas. 1987), p. 1 (mimeo).

85. Leopoldo Martínez Olavarría. Quoted in J.J. Frechilla, "Los barrios de ranchos, erradicar, curer o prevenir" (Squatter Housing: Eradicate, Cure or Prevent?), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 5. If the current tendency continues, in the year 2000 only between 15 and 25 per cent of the population of Caracas would not live in squatter settlements. Teolinda Bolivar B., "Los agentes sociales articulados a la producción de los ranchos de barrios" (The Social Agents Connected to the Production of Squatter Housing), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 2.

86. While policy has varied greatly from one government to another in recent years, lately the state has tended explicitly to recognize the existence of informal urban settlements as a lasting reality. Its action, however, has been highly ambiguous, refusing to recognize the definitive nature of these settlements, and at the same time supplying some of the essential services once they are consolidated.

87. John Foxley and Elisenda Vila, "Los planes urbanos y el desarrollo de la vivenda" (Urban Plans and the Development of Housing), International Seminar (note 84 above). The most complete expression of a technocratic vision detached from reality is the case of the only planned city in Venezuela, Ciudad Guayana. The Caroní river separates one half of the city, with services that few inhabitants can afford (Puerto Ordaz), from the other half with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants with precarious or non-existent public services (San Felix).

88. The principal deficiencies of informal housing in Venezuela are not in the housing per se (which inhabitants can construct on their own), but in what the state is responsible for: services. It is calculated that in order to be reclassified as adequate, 82 per cent of the inadequate housing in the country would require provision of services. Alberto Lovera, "Crisis y vivienda popular" (Crisis and Popular Housing), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 4.

89. Roberto Briceño León, "Los retos de la vivenda pare las personas sin hogar en Venezuela" (The Challenges of Housing for the Homeless in Venezuela), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 6. There are tested technologies for the improvement of traditional construction techniques with earth - on the basis of small proportions of cement - that would guarantee an economic, cool, and lasting house.

90. "The usual construction materials and procedures in popular housing have been developed in terms of the conditions of the formal sector of the construction industry, which leads to the assumption that important benefits could be obtained by introducing modifications in materials and processes consonant with the conditions and forms of organization of the process of work related to the popular housing unit." Enrique Hernández O., "Programa de incentivos a la innovación en la producción y comercialización de materials y componentes pare la PRO-MAT" (Programme of Incentives to Innovation in Production and Commercialization of Materials and Components for PRO-MAT), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 9.

91. See Arnaldo José Gabaldón, Política ambiental y sociedad (Environmental Policy and Society) (Monte Avila Editores, Caracas, 1984).

92. Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, Sistemas ambientales en Venezuela. Los problemas ambientales en Venezuela (Environmental Systems in Venezuela. Environmental Problems in Venezuela) (Caracas, 1982), p. 145.

93. See note 92 above, p. 169.

94. The population density in Venezuela is less than 20 persons per square kilometre.

95. The most severe case that has been documented has been that of mercury contamination produced by the wastes of the caustic soda and chlorine plants of the petrochemical complex in Morón between 1953 and 1976. The death of at least 19 workers was directly attributed to mercury and it was estimated that 40 kilometres of beach were contaminated. L. Sánchez, M. Gaumy, and J. Protean, "Intoxication mercurielle au Venezuela," Archives de maladies professionnelles, de medicine du travail et de sécurité sociale (Paris), vol. 43 (1982): 32-34.

96. See note 7.

97. Petróleos de Venezuela has an almost exclusive monopoly on all exploration, exploitation, refining, petrochemical processing, and commercialization of hydrocarbons, the principal economic activity of the country. The Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana is responsible for the rest of the basic enterprises of the state, especially in the steel, aluminium, and electricity areas.

98. Frequently the executive requests financing from Congress for investments in projects that are already committed, placing congressmen in de facto situations in which little can be debated or decided.

99. In relation to this process of creation of new levels of consciousness and political activity in Venezuela, see Gabriela Uribe B. and Edgardo Lander, "Acción social, efectividad simbólica y nuevos ámbitos de lo político en Venezuela" (Social Action, Symbolic Effectiveness and New Contexts of the Political Sphere in Venezuela), in Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales, Imágenes desconoridas. I a modernidad en la encrucijada postmoderna (Unknown Images. Modernity at Postmodern Crossroads) (Buenos Aires, 1988).

100. Port city on the north coast of Venezuela.

101. In the words of Richard Falk, "The potency of the new movements is normative, without tangible substance, but capable of affecting sudden conversions and symbolic leaders and of changing the composition of cultural soil. This potency may also be disguised, being borne invisibly by the culture until it irrupts as an unexpected powerful tendency. The political possibilities are coneccted with the gradual establishment of a new fundamental ethos, a kind of 'continental drift' associated with the unknown geology of cultural transformation." "The Global Promise of Social Movements: Explorations at the Edge of Time," Alternatives. Social Transformation and Humane Governance, vol. Xll, no. 2 (1987): 94-95.

102. According to Article 128 of the Constitution, they "must be approved by means of a special law to be valid. . ." When it is ratified by Congress, "The treaty is incorporated in the internal law with constitutional rank, whereby the treaty acquires legal force above any law or code of a lower hierarchy." Programa Venezolano de Educación-Accion en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA), Situación de los derechos humanos en Venezuela. Informe Anual octubre 1988-septiembre 1989 (The Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela. Annual Report, October 1988-Septcmber 1989) (Caracas, 1989), p. 79.

103. Covenants of the United Nations: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Covenant (ratified 1978), Civil and Political Rights Covenant (ratified 1978), Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ratified 1969), Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination toward Women (1983), Protocol of 1967 on Refugees (ratified 1986).

104. Covenants of the Organization of American States: American Convention on Human Rights (ratified 1977), Recognition of the Litigious Competence of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights (ratified 1981).

105. Convention 107 concerning the Protection and Integration of Indigenous and Other Tribal People and Semi-tribal Populations in Independent Countries, approved in the Conference of ILO held in Geneva in 1957, was ratified by the Venezuelan Senate 25 years later in 1982. This convention is the principal international treaty for the protection of the rights of indigenous people, in spite of its basically integrationist nature. The current Venezuelan government is opposed to the ratification of Convection 169 on Indigenous and Other Tribal People of June 1989, which represents a very significant advance in respect of the right to the preservation of cultural identities and traditional forms of life.

106. PROVEA (note 102 above), pp. 69-72.

107. In the words of Amnesty International, "several hundreds of persons lost their lives betwen February 27 and March 8. There are few doubts that many died as a consequence of the general violence or in circumstances that make it difficult to determine those who were responsible. Reports received on other cases, nevertheless, indicate that some persons died as a result of the illegitimate use of lethal means, as for example, indiscriminate or deliberate shots from the army or police." "Venezuela. Reports on Arbitrary Homicides and Tortures: February and March 1989" (summary) (London, March 1990), p. 1 (mimeo).

108. PROVEA (note 102 above), p. 44.

109. Attorney-General of the Republic, En defensa del cindadano (In Defence of the Citizen) (Caracas, 1989), pp. 5-14. The Office of the Attorney-General is the agency in charge of watching over "the observance of the Constitution and the laws" in Venezuela. Ley Orgánica del Ministerio Público (Organic Law of the Public Ministry), Caracas, 1970.

110. "The law will establish the system of exception that requires the protection of indigenous communities and their progressive incorporation into the life of the Nation" (Article. 77). In spite of the importance of indigenous populations in Venezuela, their legal protection is quite precarious. The principal legal instruments in force come from many decades back and have an expressly integrationist intention. The most important of these laws are: The Law on Reduction, Civilization, and Protection of Indigenous People (1882), Law of Protection of Indigenous People (1904), and the Law of Mission (1915). Although it has had little practical influence, the most advanced legal text on the protection of indigenous rights in the country is Article 2 of the Law of Agrarian Reform (]961), which "guarantees and acknowledges the right of the indigenous population that in fact has a communal state of extended family (without impairing the rights that correspond to them as Venezuelans, according to the previous norms), to the use of land, forests and water that they occupy and that belong to them in the sites where they habitually live without prejudice to their incorporation into the national life." The Project of the Organic Law of Indigenous Communities, People and Cultures presented to the Chamber of Deputies in March 1990 is the first legal instrument in which the protection of the rights of the indigenous tribes, including their cultural rights, is envisioned in a global perspective.

111. Fernando Rebolledo M., "El derecho a la privacidad. Primera victima del Gran Hermano" (The Right to Privacy. First Victim of the Big Brother), Seminario informática en el desarrollo de la sociedad venezolana (Seminar: Computer Science in the Development of Venezuelan Society), School of Computer Studies and Institute of Urbanism, Venezuelan Central University, Caracas, 1988, p. 8 (mimeo).

112. Attorney-General of the Republic (note 109 above), pp. 73-4.

113. This is explainable both on the basis of the limited capacity of the Ministries of Health and Social Assistance and of Agriculture and Livestock to control such extended activities as agriculture and livestock, and because of the nature of the penalties foreseen for a violation of the law: from a minimum of US$1.00 to a maximum of US$100. Article 7 of the Law of Fertilizers and Other Agents Subject to Exerting a Beneficial Action in Plants, Animals, Soils, and Waters (1964).

114. Owing to the interest that existed at that time in finding a market for the radioactive meat that was being prohibited in the European countries.

115. Table I gives the levels of concentration of radionucleids in foods considered to be acceptable in the Resolutions of the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance on 4 July 1986 and on 30 July 1987.

116. Articles 7-10.

117. See Magdalena Salomón de Padrón, La protección legal de los consumidores y usuarios. Bases para una reforma (Legal Protection of Consumers and Users. Bases for a Reform) (Venezuelan Central University, Caracas, 1988).

118. In view of the limited capacity to perform systematic studies on the diverse prod ucts that are imported, Venezuelan law frequently uses the recourse of prohibiting imports of products that are not authorized for the same use in the countries of origin. Illustrative of this type of norm is Article 27 of the Organic Law of Prevention, Conditions, and Working Environment, which states: "Those who import substances for industrial, agricultural use and service that are potentially harmful to the health of workers, must accompany. . . a certificate of free sale in their country of origin." This requirement is incorporated in Article 41 of the General Regulations on Foods (1959) in relation to the importation of foods, in Article 51 of the Regulations on the Law of the Practice of Pharmacy (1943) in relation to drugs, and in Article 11 of the General Regulations on Pesticides (1968) in relation to the importation of pesticides.

119. Venezuela has likewise signed and ratified the principal international agreements of the ILO in relation to working conditions, among which is Convention 155 on Security and Health of Workers and Working Environment (ratified in 1984).

120. The following articles illustrate the weaknesses inherent in a legal text that involves a regulation which goes far beyond what is practically possible: "Article 22. The employees have to submit to the approval of the Institute of Welfare, Health, and Labor Security all projects of new jobs or the reorganization of previous ones, in order to guarantee that technological changes contribute to making work less arduous and hazardous"; and "Article 23. The construction or importation of machinery, equipment and tools for industry, agriculture or services are subject to the approval and control (by the state) of their conditions and security devices." Since it is not possible for the Venezuelan state to supervise each new job, or each piece of equipment or machinery, it ends up by not exercising any vigilance.

121. According to Article 6 of this law, for example: "No workers may be exposed to the action of physical agents, ergonomic conditions, psychosocial risks, chemical, biological agents or agents of any other type, without being warned in writing or by any other ideal means of their nature, of the damages that might be caused to health, and instructed in the principles of their prevention." Nevertheless, work with patented chemical ingredients that completely lack identification as a way to preserve industrial secrets is frequent.

122. Transplants of organs and authorization of drugs.

123. "The state will attend to the defence and conservation of the natural resources of its territory, and their exploitation will be directed principally to the collective benefit of Venezuelans."

124. See Cecilia Sosa and Osvaldo Mantero, Derecho ambiental venezolano Venezuelan Environmental Law) (Polar Foundation, Caracas).

125. This is a law that predates a large part of the Latin American experience in environmental regulation. Moreover, it was approved only seven years after the National Environment Policy Act of 1969 in the United States, which has been a pioneering instrument in relation to environmental legislation.

126. At a more general conceptual level than the discussion below, it can be pointed out that in this law the relationship between development and environmental protection does not appear as problematic, in spite of the severe environmental impact of the development of Venezuelan society in this century. Environmental protection is presented as an objective "within the policy of integral development of the Nation" (Article 1).

127. For a discussion of these limitations from the point of view of environmental law, see Cecilia Sosa and Osvaldo Mantero (note 124 above), pp. 123-130.

128. In these years, several legal projects have been presented in Congress, oriented to covering the penal problems of environmental protection. The first was a draft of the Law of Partial Reform of the Organic Law of the Environment, approved in the Senate in the first discussion in 1985, but which was later withdrawn from the chambers. Currently debates are taking place on the draft of the Penal Law of the Environment, which has been prepared by the Commission of the Environment and Territorial Regulation of the Chamber of Deputies. This project includes precise norms and penalties. If approved without substantial modifications it would represent a very important step forward in Venezuelan environmental legislation.

129. For example, the Law of Fishing (1944) does not regulate or contemplate trawling.

130. The levels of the fines have been converted into dollars on the basis of an exchange rate of 50 bolivars per dollar, the monetary parity as of July 1990.

131. The following are the diverse types of areas contemplated in Article 15 of the Organic Law of Territorial Regulation: (1) national parks; (2) protective zones; (3) forest reserves; (4) special areas of security and defence; (5) reserves for wild fauna; (6) refuges for wild fauna; (7) sanctuaries for wild fauna; (8) natural monuments; (9) zones of tourist interest; and (10) areas submitted to a system of special administration in accordance with international treaties.

132. According to the Organic Law of the Central Administration (1976), the Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources is responsible for "planning and carrying out the activities of the National Executive for the promotion of the quality of life, the environment and renewable natural resources; the preparation and execution of the programmes for conservation, defence, improvement, regulation, exploitation and use of water, forests, the land and soils; the census, conservation, defence and regulation of the wild fauna and flora; the national parks." (Article 36). It is by no means clear why only "renewable resources" should be protected. Perhaps this is due to the unwillingness of the state oil and mining industries to be supervised by this ministry.

133. Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (MARNR). "El Estado ante el ambiente y el Estado ante la sociedad civil en Venezuela" (The State and the Environment, the State and Civil Society in Venezuela), Seminario: Estado, ambiente y sociedad civil (Seminar: State, Environment and Civil Society) (ILDIS, Caracas, 1987), pp. 32-33 (mimeo).

134. See C.G. Weeramantry, The Slumbering Sentinels. Law and Human Rights in the Wake of Technology (Penguin Books Australia, 1983).

135. Juan Carlos Rey, "El futuro de la democracia en Venezuela" (The Future of Democracy in Venezuela), in Héctor Silva Michelena (coordinator), Venezuela hacia 2000. Desafiós y opciones (Venezuela toward 2000. Challenges and Options) (Editorial Nueva Sociedad, Caracas, 1987), pp. 242-245.

136. These deficiencies of the legislature are only partially compensated by its increasing political role in the processing and investigation of accusations relating to negative environmental impacts. In this sense, the role of the Permanent Committee of the Chamber of Deputies on the Environment and Territorial Regulation stands out.

137. Julio González Aguirre, "Definición, implicaciones y aspectos regales de la política ambiental en Venezuela" (Definition, Implications and Legal Aspects of Environ mental Policy in Venezuela), in José Malavé, ea., La gestión ambiental, impulso o freno al desarrollo? (Environmental Management, Promotor or Retarder of Development?) (Ediciones IESA, Caracas, 1988), pp. 36-37.

138. MARNR (note 133 above), p. 30.

139. MARNR (note 133 above), p. 30.

140. By holding that everything that has to do with the purchase of weapons is a military secret, this area of technology is expressly excluded from all possibility of democratic control.

141. With the crisis of global political models and ideologies, the tendency in the world today is toward a political language that is increasingly more pragmatic and technocratic. This tends to delegitimize political demands that are not expressed in this specialized language.

142. It is too soon to evaluate this project.

143. This is often due to the fact that explicit commitments have already been made to international financial institutions.

144. This is the case, for exemple, in the project of the Critóbal Colón Plant for the exploitation, processing, and exportation of natural gas. This plant, with a total investment of $3,000 million and participation of foreign capital, is to be constructed in the peninsula of Paria to the north-east of Venezuela, in a moist tropical jungle within the limits of a national park.

145. The so-called "Letter of Intention," delivered to the Director-General of the International Monetary Fund on 28 February 1989, commits the Venezuelan government to carrying out -point by point - all of the principal demands that were made in the Staff Report for the 1987 Article IV Consultation (October 1987), product of a mission of the IMF that visited Venezuela between dune and September 1987.

146. In addition to the value that gold may have as a source of foreign exchange, there is another reason for the lack of effective control of this activity in spite of the fact that its perverse human and environmental effects are beyond doubt. With the increase in unemployment that has been brought about by the economic crisis, mining serves as an escape valve that may limit social tensions.

147. In relation to the environmental impact of tourism on the island of Margarita, the Ministry of the Environment points out that: "The overwhelming environmental problems that this island zone faces arose a short time ago. The introduction of the Free Port has managed to cause more damage to the Island of Margarita in ten years than its inhabitants have been able to do in 450 years of occupation." Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (note 92 above), p. 222.

Contents - Previous - Next