Venezuela: Communes in Caracas

Concrete block production by the Ezequiel Zamora Commune, Antimano, Caracas.

September 7, 2011 -- Cuidad CSS, translated by Owen Richards for Venezuela: Translating the Revolution. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Among the aims of community organisation is that of building the communal state, where power is exercised directly by the people, through self-government, with an economic model of social property and local self-development.

Based on this premise, 236 communes and more than 9000 communal councils have been established, according to information from the Ministry of Popular Power for the Communes.

Through this process the city of Caracas has turned into a space full of examples of self-government.

Socioeconomic model

In the Capital District around 44 sectors exist that are in the process of building communes in order to lay the foundations for Venezuelan socialism.

In the Antimano ward, 18 communal councils of the Carapita sector and part of Santa Ana organised to establish the Victoria Socialist Commune.

Edgar Astudillo, the commune’s spokesperson, reports that the developing socioeconomic model now has four collective work units for the production of goods and services, working under the criteria of reinvesting profits back into the community.

Blacksmithing, concrete block making, carpentry, textiles and baking are the businesses established with an investment of 924,000 BsF that was authorised by President Hugo Chavez through the Micro-financing Development Fund (Fondemi), in June 2010.

The experience of the communes is based on self-government under the Organic Law of Popular Power, as the “set of actions through which the organised communities directly assume the management of projects, the carrying out of works and services in order to improve the quality of life in its geographical area”.

Blanca Araujo, spokesperson for the commune-in-construction El Paraiso de Maisanta of Cota 905, Santa Rosalia ward, defines the commune-building process, from her experience, as an “organisation of the people to solve their problems”. She adds that “with the commune we have more power and more consciousness of the problems we face”.

This commune, a year in the making, has a route that covers the Guzman Blanco sector on Cota 905 towards Quinta Crespo. The resources it receives are used for community projects.

La Pastora is another example that is adopting the communal model. “First, we met as a promotional team for social and political activities in the area. When the president put out the call to form communes, we decided that this was a way to make a reality of the goals of the revolutionary process”, recalls Milagros Hernandez, spokesperson of the Los Mecedores commune in construction, in La Pastora ward.

They have just established a communal house acquired with 650,000 BsF granted by the government of Capital District. In that space they will install an infocentre and a textile company as socioeconomic projects.

Extending the geographic axis

In 2008, locals from the El Observatorio sector in 23 de Enero [neighbourhood] and part of the San Juan ward, which has12 communal councils, formed the Juan 23 Commune, made up of 11,526 inhabitants who share the same territory and history.

Nelson Solorzano, one of the promotors of this organisation, said that they are now expanding their axis of activity. They meet with nine communes in west Caracas and make economic exchanges to break with the capitalist market which causes most of the problems the communes are struggling against.

Socialist spaces

The Organic Law of the Communes stipulates that these social organisations are “a socialist space that, as local entities, are defined by the integration of neighbourhood communities with a shared memory and history, cultural features, traits and customs that are recognised in the territory that they occupy and in the productive activities that are the basis of their livelihood”. Among its aims is to promote mechanisms for education and training in the communities and promote the popular defence of human rights.

[Owen Richards helped initiate the Sydney University Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Club and is a member of the Sydney branch of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society. He maintains Venezuela: Translating the Revolution.]