Santos said that since he took office in August 2010, 2.5 million Colombians were lifted to above the poverty line, while 1.3 million no longer live in extreme poverty.
Ever since taking office, the president made poverty and inequality reduction one of the pillars of his “Democratic Prosperity” policy.
Colombia’s population in poverty
At the end of his first year as president, Santos changed the definition of poverty.
According to the revised definitions a person is not poor if he/she earns $105 a month and is part of a family of four with an income of $438 a month.
The changed definition led to fierce criticism from Vice-President Angelino Garzon, who admitted publicly not knowing “what planet they live on” and invited government officials to do a month shopping for a family of four.
Santos told those present in Neiva that a new program offering free homes to the poor and increased access to government programs offering subsidies has been the main engine behind the country’s poverty reduction.
“This is how you get the people out of poverty, giving them basic services and educating the children,” the president said.
According to the World Bank, which measured poverty levels worldwide, 34% of Colombia’s entire population lived below the globally accepted poverty line in 2011.