Caracas, February 9, 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - In a speech from Miraflores Palace on Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that his government would begin to implement its newest social program, known as the Great Household Mission of the Nation.
The stated aim of the new mission is to tackle extreme poverty and ensure the "total protection" of the Venezuelan family, from birth and child-rearing through to elderly care. The announcement comes in the midst of a severe recession, an economic war, and escalating U.S. sanctions, yet the government has said that it will not compromise its commitment to the country's network of social missions developed over the past sixteen years.
The Great Household Mission is specifically targeted at the 500,000 Venezuelans currently living in extreme poverty, or approximately 7 percent of the population. A rate which has dropped significantly from 21% in 1998 thanks to a near doubling of expenditure on social programs such as the missions, according to the National Institute of Statistics.
According to the President, the Household Mission is intended to act as an umbrella project to "group together various missions and plans that are in development... in order to become a single action for the protection of the family." Missions that will fall under the remit of the new project include Women of the Barrio, Children of the Barrio, and Children of Venezuela.
Maduro went on to note that the mission is not merely directed towards individual families, but aims to "beautify and strengthen the community, and the household specifically".
In this vein, the Household Mission is geared towards the promotion of a cultural revolution amongst Venezuelan citizens, prioritising the creation of community and social bonds over the individual.
In his speech, President Maduro called on Venezuelan families to "go on uprooting the evil seeds of capitalist values, of the cult of violence and guns, so that our children and young people grow up with opportunities to become social builders of the nation."
"We all have to assume the role of builders of this great motherland," the Venezuelan leader stated.
As part of the first step of the program, a series of popular assemblies will be organized in communities throughout the country to inform citizens about the process and how they can get involved. The mission, which was first unveiled in 2014, is scheduled to get off the ground in late February and March. Nonetheless, several popular assemblies have already been held in the country.
In Yaracuy State, three assemblies comprising over 1,200 people were held on Saturday with the aim of organizing three bases of the mission in San Felipe, Bruzual, and Peña. The plan is to progressively expand the mission to encompass 21 bases in the communities of 14 municipalities, according to the governor of northwestern state.
The second stage of the mission involves a process of registration whereby communities can apply to participate in the initiative. As of Sunday, 290 registration centers have been established across Venezuela, which have thus far registered 65 communities and 367 communal councils.
In the third phase, mission staff will conduct a census of families living in extreme poverty, traveling the country household by household in order to review families' specific needs and draw up concrete plans for each and every family.
"This is not only about economic allocation," notes Juan Carlos Sierra, coordinator of Strategic Region of Integral Development (Redi) for the Center West and one of the main organizers of the Lara census.
"This is a mechanism designed by the Revolution to guarantee integrated attention for families [who face extreme poverty]" he noted.
Local authorities estimate that there are currently 47,000 families living in extreme poverty in Lara state.
The final step of the mission is an assembly of action, "so that the community takes on the leadership and control over what is being done with the Household Mission of the Nation."
This grassroots orientation towards local community control and protagonism from below has by now become a hallmark of a great many of the programs and initiatives launched under the Bolivarian Revolution, ranging from the communal councils and communes to the expansive array of social missions.
Venezuela Analysis will be closely following the advances of the Household Mission over the coming weeks and months.