April 15, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Today President Chavez reiterated an announcement he made last weekend, that his government will launch a new social program, known as the “April 13 Mission,” to help eliminate poverty in Venezuela. The mission will be dedicated towards the improvement of living standards in poor neighborhoods, known as Barrios, and to the strengthening of communal councils.
The new program, which is named after the date on which Chavez was brought back into office following the short-lived 2002 coup attempt, will be funded by the new tax on extraordinary oil profits and will be launched in May of this year.
According to Chavez, as long as the oil price remains as high as it currently is, the additional revenues are expected to reach $500 million per month. At least half of this would go towards the new mission. The new tax kicks in every time the price of oil exceeds $70 per barrel, when oil companies would have to pay 50% of their usual after-tax profits as an additional tax.
One objective of the April 13th Mission will be to work on improving community infrastructure, such as the provision of “housing, drinking water, electricity, employment, food, and health,” explained Chavez.
The other equally important objective will be to strengthen communal councils, both organizationally and ideologically, as a site for the development of “communes” and “socialism from below.”
Communes had been part of the failed constitutional reform proposal of last December and are designed to bring communal councils together on a citywide level, as a new form of self-governance that runs parallel to the elected mayors and city councils.
“The communes are nothing other than popular self-government,” said Chavez. “For the consolidation of this project, it will require great effort, solidarity, and humanism,” which are only possible in socialism, he added.
The project will be launched in 74 of Venezuela’s most populous 335 municipalities, which cover a total population of 15 million, said Chavez last Sunday.
The nationalization of Venezuela’s main cement factories will be part of this new mission, in that the cement will be needed for the construction projects the project requires.
Chavez explained the new mission during a ceremony that awarded grants to a wide variety of community projects that are along the lines of the new mission’s objectives. For March and April, community projects have so far received $372 million. During the event today, Chavez handed out grants for projects such as the improvement of a community health clinic, the construction of a community cultural center, the construction of an aqueduct, among many others.