Mérida, April 30th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Wednesday Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced that his government will invest $11.5 million to finish the construction of a third bridge over the Orinoco River, and grant a credit of $11.6 million dollars to a new state-run "socialist" aluminum company.
The 11-kilometer bridge, which will connect the railways and highways of the states of Guárico and Bolívar, is part of the government's plan for "the integration of the country," Chávez said during a televised meeting of his Council of Ministers.
The nearly 2,000 workers hired to construct the bridge "are the ones who are constructing the new homeland," He said, highlighting the 10% minimum wage increase that will take effect on May 1st.
Chávez also emphasized the importance of the bridge for the extraction of oil from Venezuela's "backbone," the Orinoco Oil Belt, where it is estimated the world's second largest oil reserves lie. The state oil company, PDVSA, owns the 60% controlling share in extraction projects in the Orinoco, and multi-national oil companies from dozens of countries have signed on as minority partners.
"The railway plans and gas and oil complexes along that axis [of the Orinoco Oil Belt] constitute the dream of the twentieth century, and now in this twenty-first century they are becoming a reality for the benefit of all Venezuelans," said Chávez.
Also on Wednesday, Chávez said the state will grant a credit of 25 million bolivars ($11.6 million) to a new "socialist" enterprise for the production of aluminum products for the automobile, communications, agriculture, electronics, and military industries.
"Every socialist company should be a school and a mother in which new instruments and new production units are created and born," Chávez said of the new aluminum company.
The Chávez administration advocates the construction of a unique form of "21st Century Socialism" through democratic means, and has consistently encouraged innovative projects that may serve as laboratories for new, more just alternatives to capitalist methods of production and social organization.
Chávez said a project such as the new aluminum company should gradually meld with the community councils, which are a form of local decision-making and project funding spurred by the Chávez government from 2006, and with other new types of companies that the government has encouraged such as cooperatives and socially owned enterprises, to form "communes."
These communes will require "the transformation of the territory and society, the rise of the new man and women," Chávez said. "Power, knowledge, organization, capital, prime materials, machinery, and then production must be transferred to the community, destined to satisfy the most urgent needs of that community and the surrounding communities," he emphasized.
Chávez previously spoke of the communes on March 1st, when he unveiled a state-owned industrial water pump in an area of Aragua state and said several "socialist agrarian communes" are to be built there with government support.
To promote these initiatives, Chávez created the Ministry of Communes in March by consolidating the Ministry of Participation and Social Protection with the Ministry of Communal Economy.