Government: Nobody has died in Venezuela for any reason since 2003

Check mate, death

A reader:

I’m continually astonished that no one ever seems to challenge the government claim, most recently repeated by Yadira Cordova just the other day, that Barrio Adentro has ‘saved over two million lives’.

I’m not aware that this bizarre pseudo-statistic is employed anywhere else in the world as a measure of the impact of a health-care system. But leaving that aside for the moment…TWO MILLION?????

Good point. Let’s see. A very quick Google check produces a gross mortality rate for Venezuela of 5.2 per thousand per annum – a number that, if anything, has been edging up since the year 2000, which is what you’d expect as the population ages.

Let’s say there are 29 million people. That means each year, some 150,000 people die in total in Venezuela. INE, for its part, reports a slightly lower figure: 110,000 to 130,000 deaths per year in 2003-2010.

So in saying that Barrio Adentro has prevented two million deaths, what the government is basically saying is that the program has prevented all deaths from all causes for a period of 13-15 years…even though it has only been running for nine years.


For Cordova’s claim to make any numerical sense at all, she’d have to argue that in Barrio Adentro’s absence Venezuela’s mortality rate would have more than tripled  from its 2000-2003 level for some mysterious, unspecified reason, and that it was only thanks to Barrio Adentro that this calamity didn’t strike and our mortality stayed close to its historic trend – a completely loopy claim:

Sources: Actual Deaths: INE, Prevented Deaths: the Chavista hive mind’s wildest dreams.

The 2-million lives saved claim is, in other words, a crazy lie.

And if the government can get away with a lie on this scale, why should we believe anything they say?

Oh wait, we don’t believe anything they say…