Community Volunteers Aid in Housing Construction in Venezuela, Registered Communes Reach 600

Communes minister Reinaldo Iturriza announced this Saturday the creation of 400 volunteer work fronts for housing construction. A march was also held in Lara state to commemorate the registration of the 600th commune.

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600th Commune
The 600th registered commune, Lara state. (Oscar Arria)
By Tamara Pearson
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Merida, 28th April 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Communes minister Reinaldo Iturriza announced this Saturday the creation of 400 volunteer work fronts for housing construction. A march was also held in Lara state to commemorate the registration of the 600th commune.

Housing minister Ricardo Molina also announced the formation of the fronts earlier this month, as they are part of a month-long volunteer initiative called April of Unity and Victory. The fronts are made up of communal council members, civil servants, national guard, and other members of the communities where houses are being built.

Molina stated that the idea should be “strengthened... voluntary work is very important because it is a measure of revolutionary consciousness”.

Juan Gonzalez, spokesperson of one of the communal councils in La Trinidad, Apure, where 14 houses were being built, told VTV that they had already built 35 houses in this way, with help from the Francisco de Miranda Front and the communes ministry.

“We’re doing volunteer work...as a productive people who are integrally transforming their habitat together with social fronts and missions, in order to continue to fulfill goals and gradually eradicate the improvised ranchos [shacks],” Gonzalez said.

At the end of last week the Tiger 2030 communal council, in Piritu, Anzoategui state, also built 14 houses. The mayor of Piritu donated the land for the housing construction.

Valliza Pericana, speaking in the indigenous language Cumanagota, highlighted the work of women “moving bricks, rods, mixing cement, and building the housing”. The communal council is currently building a total of 40 houses.

Each house, following the housing mission’s standards, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, a kitchen, and a general area. Similar initiatives were held throughout the country. For a photo gallery of the volunteer work, click here.

The national government’s aim is to build, between private and public contractors as well as community organising, 3 million housing units by 2019. According to District Capital head, Jaqueline Faria, so far 557,000 units have been built nationally since 2011. The housing is provided free, or at a highly subsidised rate- depending on the family’s income.

600 communes

On Friday, the 600th commune registered so far, called Fighters for the Homeland of Bolivar and Chavez, based in Lara state, held an event and a march to mark the occasion. One of the commune’s spokespeople, Edgar Mendoza, said the commune “has weaknesses, but also productive potential in agriculture, especially pineapples”.

Iturriza commented at the event that it was important for communes to have their own transport, as “many people use their trucks to distribute the pineapples, and they sell it for high prices, and those who invested so much effort in growing the fruit are left with a smaller income”.

103 of the 600 registered communes in the country are in Lara state.

Today, vice-president Jorge Arreaza said there are now 605 registered communes, and the plan is to reach 3,000, “in a process of decentralisation of power to avoid the error of socialism in Europe, where a parasitic elite emerged”.

For a commune to be registered, its founding platform must be approved in elections with a minimum participation of 15% of the community. The platform includes a full community census, an analysis of local problems and potentials, and a strategic program of action for the long, medium, and short term.

The communes group together usually around ten communal councils, and aim to develop new and democratic forms of production. There are currently around 30,000 registered communal councils, though the precise number varies as some communal councils expire, and other new ones are formed.