UNESCO denies Venezuela literacy claim

By Aleksander Boyd

London 06.07.06 | This was just too good to let it pass... On 22 June this year Maria Pilar Hernandez, Vice Minister of External Relations for North America and Multilateral Affairs, gave a speech in Geneva before the UN's Human Rights Council in which she stated, amongst other pearls of wisdom, the following "just to cite some important examples, our country had the honour in 2005 of having been declared officially by UNESCO as an illiteracy-free territory..." Knowing the deceitful nature of chavistas I decided to call UNESCO to check whether or not there was any true to that allegation since the data contained in UNESCO's Institute for Statistics does not correspond to Ms. Hernandez declaration. I spoke to Sue Williams, UNESCO's Chief of Section of Bureau of Public Information in Paris, and this is what she had to say in that respect: "UNESCO has not endorsed or made any statement to the effect that Venezuela is free of illiteracy."

From: Aleksander Boyd
Sent: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 2:34 PM
To: Williams, S.
Subject: Literacy rates in Venezuela

Dear Sue,

As discussed over the phone I should be most grateful if you could confirm that UNESCO has not declared Venezuela as an "illiteracy-free terrority/country" in 2005, as announced by Venezuelan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Pilar Hernandez in Geneva on 22 June 2006 before the UN's human rights council.

I was unable to check the validity of this statement with information provided by UNESCO's Institute for Statistics (UIS). Furthermore the data contained in UIS' website does not support Ms. Hernandez's statements.

Since thus far the only source of such allegations seems to be officials of the Venezuelan administration I believe a clarification note is in order. UNESCO's name and reputation should not be used for political purposes.

Cordially, Aleksander Boyd

From: Williams, S
Sent: 04/07/2006 14:36
To: Aleksander Boyd
Subject: RE: Literacy rates in Venezuela

hi aleksander,

UNESCO has not endorsed or made any statement to the effect that Venezuela is free of illiteracy. A message was sent indicating that Venezuela should keep up the good work, but also indicating that there remained much to be done. I have people searching for the exact text, which I hope to send you shortly.