Bogota, October 4 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Commune activists and rural workers demonstrated in Plaza Bolivar in Caracas Thursday, demanding representatives of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) take action on issues ranging from the communal economy to corruption and food distribution.
Sponsor organisations of the event included the National Network of Communards, Chavismo Bravio (Untamed Chavismo), and the 23 of October Revolutionary Movement — amongst others.
Most of the demonstrators had traveled to the capital from across Venezuela’s rural states to hand their proposals over to ANC delegates after carrying out a series of meetings in their hometowns. They also held their own version of the constituent assembly in the city’s main square.
“We are simply here to make ourselves heard as communards,” commented activist Amarelys Guzmana, a spokesperson from National Network of Communards to press.
“Given that the communard spirit is no longer being reflected in the 24 delegates [for communes] elected to the ANC, we want our commune and our process… to be made into law. And that is what we are demanding today,” she continued.
Communes are conformed of several decision-making bodies known as communal councils. Made up of elected local residents, they are tasked with advancing socialism and replacing certain attributions of the state with self-government in their local communities. In recent years, rural communes have been focussing on increasing food production in a bid to offset the shortages brought about by the country's three year economic crisis and decline in imports caused by a global drop in oil prices.
Delegates to the ANC were elected on July 30 and are currently holding session to redraft the country's 1999 constitution. Though the initiative was initially welcomed by Chavista grassroots movements as a way of bringing an end to months of violent rightwing anti-protest, organizations have become increasingly frustrated with the body’s lack of action in dealing with the country’s financial difficulties.
The rural commune activists presented a twenty-three point plan during the assembly, which includes demands for the creation of a national communal economy council, an advisory economic council, and an action plan to push forward national production — all in conjunction with commune and social movement activists.
“[It is important] that the communal economy is not just considered one more economic motor of the economy, but a powerful and transversal axis,” states the document.
Likewise, the organizations also called for “decisive measures” to halt inflation and the shortages of medicines, root out corruption and move towards a communal state.
Other points in the document demand the inclusion of a chapter on the communes in the new potential constitution, and state intervention in government institutions accused of blocking and sabotaging the productive work of rural commune activists.
“We haven't advanced because they block us at every step!” Guzman told press.
In particular, the groups reported that several of their activists had been arrested while trying to transport food produced in rural communes to Caracas - presumably under allegations of food smuggling. They said that the state must provide logistic aid to help them respond to the country’s economic difficulties, and protect them from being criminalized.
In Venezuela there are a series of laws outlining the role of the communes, including the Law of the Communes and Law of the Communal Economy. Though they were described by former Venezuelan President and leader of the Bolivarian revolution Hugo Chavez as being the “cells” of a new socialist state, commune activists have reported that the development of the communes has stopped being a priority for the national government in recent years.