- has almost 30 million inhabitants
- is a major oil exporter.
- Has, for the past 12 years, a president named Hugo Chavez, a left-wing socialist leader who controls the Internet and television use within the country.
- has its own time zone (CIA World Fact Book).
Technology Use: Opinion and Fact
Venezuela still has a long way to go, and is not just with the government or the government’s various disputes; it is with it technology. The accessibility of the Internet to all of Venezuela is limited and the government hasn’t done much to solve the issue. There are no recent large-scale technological advancements, and foreign investment has declined, so there is little hope for big investments in science and technology in the country. However, there are two actions the country has taken towards technology growth (Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the U.S., 2011). The first is that the Ministry of Science and Technology enforced a tax on residents above a certain income for developing new and innovative technologies. The second is the installation of a satellite called the Símon Bolívar Satellite, which was intended to help telecommunications all over Latin America. Venezuela signed an agreement with Uruguay, and the satellite went up in Uruguayan airspace. Not much has occurred since these two developments, and no progressive steps are being made towards more science and technology investments. The only technological achievement Venezuela has had over the last decade was the Canaima Program, a plan which gave out laptops to first and second-grade children so that teachers could educate the children and give them more hope for a more successful future (Canaima Educativo, 2012).
Venezuela has made great leaps in the agricultural area. Venezuela had to focus on this other industry, as the oil industry, with its single non-renewable resource, is a doomed one, and too many of Venezuelan jobs are petroleum-based. To prevent a very high unemployment rate in the future, the country has started to stress loosening Venezuela’s dependence on oil. The efforts have been focused on agriculture and the telecommunications industry.
Like many other countries, Internet cafes can be found across the country, but only in cities, not everywhere. This reflects back again to the accessibility problem. Trying to increase accessibility won’t work if the closest telephone booth is 3 to 5 hours away, or if phones cost too much for the average Venezuelan. Phones are more accessible in Venezuela, but the country still ranks low internationally. There are rent-a-cells, where Venezuelans can get their cell phones for a daily or weekly price.
Technology is most accessible in Venezuela’s cities, where the richest as well as the poorest always seem to be in the loop. Whether you walk through the rich neighborhoods or the barrios, everyone has a television, often with a satellite dish. Whether they want to catch the Copa America games or watch political outcomes, everyone seems to have a television.
For two weeks, I went to a school in Venezuela, where the children from the barrios were always clean and friendly, open to new friendships, curious about the United States, and owned cellphones by fifth grade and were texting by sixth. I went to a computer class where we played on 1997 PCs and learned about counting Dalmatians and spelling. The kids were so excited to be on computers, some new kids touching a computer for the first time, learning to work on them. I felt so privileged and lucky to be raised in the United States, where not having a computer is weird and technology is integrated in our
Since I was curious about technology use in Venezuela, especially computer use, I conducted a survey about electronic technology in the country and sent it to my family members, all from different classes and stages in life, and of different ages. The survey results weren’t all that surprising, because most of my family and family friends live in and around two cities, one Caracas, and the other Mérida, a smaller city in the Andes Mountains. The survey had five basic questions. Forty-three people responded to the survey, and while the results are not conclusive for the country as a whole, they give an interesting look into everyday life.
The information was varied, but most of it didn’t surprise me. What most surprised me was the last question, which I thought would be an obvious social-networking win, but in fact, the responses were widely distributed, and texting and sending IMs were found to be the most popular ways to communicate.
Read results from Ivana’s Venezuela survey here.
Then and Now
When I visited the country this year, I saw that the telephone centers were closing, and fewer and fewer of them were available. On the other hand, Internet cafes are now in almost every city, with a couple of them scattered every block or so. Like always, I saw TV satellite dishes on almost every home, and the Exhibit A TVs (see photo), at least near my family’s home, had an unending presence. The most popular telephone seemed to be the Blackberry, and the reason, as my cousin explained, was because of the phone’s messaging functions, which aren’t available on any other phone. The malls were packed during a Real Madrid and FC Barcelona soccer match because of the large flat-screen TVs placed everywhere throughout.
Overall, Venezuela is an ever-evolving country, like many other countries in the world. Venezuela is becoming more united with the help of Twitter, Facebook, and other ways of communication. The rapid spread of new technology is good for Venezuela, and supports the rights of expression as the public is looking for better ways to help the country’s industries thrive without giving up petroleum completely. Venezuela is looking towards a brighter future, and communication is essential on the long, difficult path to justice.
What would be your first impression of a computer if you were introduced to it at age twelve? Would it be positive or negative?
Canaima Educativo. Homepage. Web. 2012. http://www.canaimaeducativo.gob.ve/.
CIA-The World Factbook. “Venezuela.” Web. 2011. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ve.html>.
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the U.S. “Science and Technology.” Venezuela.us.org. Web. 2011. <http://venezuela-us.org/ciencia-y-tecnologia/>.