Caracas, November 28, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) –Nearly a thousand members of the El Maizal Commune in Lara state marched on Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) in Caracas Monday to demand the body authorize their candidate for local mayor.
The communards made the over five-hour trek to the capital to urge the body to give permission to local communal leader Angel Prado, who is an elected ANC delegate, so he can run for mayor of the Simon Planas municipality on December 10.
“We have come to peacefully protest because our rights are being violated,” explains El Maizal member Jose Peraza.
Prado has been tied up in a protracted bureaucratic dispute with Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), which has yet to register his candidacy despite the communal leader having the backing of four leftist political parties and over nine thousand signatures from local residents.
On November 24, the CNE informed Prado that he must have permission from the ANC leadership in order to launch his candidacy, though this instruction was reportedly communicated to the electoral authority’s state office a full 17 days prior.
Upon arriving at the headquarters of the National Constituent Assembly in downtown Caracas, the communards requested a meeting with ANC President Delcy Rodriguez. However, they were instead met by the ANC secretary who informed them that the request for permission must be issued in writing, despite Prado having already submitted the application on November 24.
Supporters of Prado have accused the CNE of attempting to block his candidacy in order to ensure the victory of the handpicked United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidate, Jean Ortiz.
They point out that the ANC leadership has never hesitated in giving permission to its delegates to run on PSUV tickets.
“The governor of Lara state is a delegate, the governor of Falcon is a delegate, and [defeated Anzoategui gubernatorial candidate] Aristobulo [Isturiz] is also a delegate, and they gave them permission to compete,” observes Peraza.
“Why don’t they give this permission to someone from the communes movement? … If Chavez said ‘commune or nothing’, why do they fear a communard participating in municipal elections?” he added, alluding to late President Hugo Chavez’s strong support for the communes as the vanguard of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.
Having yet to receive a positive signal from the ANC, the communards marched on the assembly for a second straight day on Tuesday.
Aunque se mantiene la respuesta negativa sobre el permiso a la candidatura de Ángel Prado, el pueblo se mantiene y agradecemos todos: pueblo, personalidades, comunas hermanas q se han mantenido en solidaridad con esta causa. @NicolasMaduro @JauaMiranda pic.twitter.com/OMPFrJDtxo
— Comuna El Maizal (@ComunaElMaizal) November 28, 2017
“Although the response remains negative regarding the permission for Angel Prado’s candidacy, the people remain and we thank all: people, public figures, sister communes who have stood in solidarity with this cause,” the communal activists said in a Tweet.
The communards have resolved to maintain pressure on the ANC until their demand is met.
Boycotted by the majority of opposition parties, the upcoming elections have opened spaces for grassroots movements and leftist parties within Chavismo to field their own challengers to PSUV candidates, who are sometimes viewed as "imposed” or hand-picked by party leaders.
Prado, for his part, has pledged to turn his municipality into a model for the institutionalization of communal power within existing local governance structures, which often stand in tension with the communes.
Comprised of 22 communal councils, the El Maizal Commune is one of the largest and most successful agricultural communes in the country. The commune has numerous communally owned and operated businesses and an annual yellow corn production that surpasses 4,000 metric tons.
El pueblo de Simón Planas se llegó a Caracas al grito de "Comuna o nada" para respaldar la candidatura de Ángel Prado y solicitar a la @ANC_ve autorice la misma. @NicolasMaduro pic.twitter.com/zCBLKyjguI
— #ALBAConstituyente (@alba_tv) November 27, 2017
Communards chant "Commune or nothing" outside of the ANC.