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Venezuelan President Visits Communes and Workers, Criticizes Bureaucracy

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez toured the states of Lara and Tachira last weekend, meeting with community activists and workers to strengthen local organization and promote productive socialist enterprises.

While in the state of Lara on Saturday, Chavez approved the allocation of 876 million bolivars ($203 million USD) for grassroots projects planned and implemented by local residents across the country.

The President signed the act during his visit to the Villas de San Jose Bolivar “Commune in Construction” where he witnessed first hand some of the advances that organized community members have achieved through grassroots initiatives supported by the national government.

“The socialist Villas de San Jose Bolivar Commune in Construction is an example, a true example we must follow and which really motivates me because it is leading the way to accelerate the march of the Revolution”, exclaimed the Venezuelan head of state during his visit.

The Commune, located in the municipality of Irribaren in the state of Lara, is comprised of eight local community councils – grassroots organizations sponsored by the Chavez government to promote participatory democracy.

In accordance with Venezuelan law, local residents organized in community councils have the right to petition the national government for direct financing of projects such as housing or public services.

There are currently more than 30 thousand such councils registered in all of Venezuela. In recent years, the Chavez government has been promoting the integration of community councils into regional umbrella organizations known as Communes in Construction.

A new government ministry was established in 2009, the Ministry for Communes, to aid and assist in the formation of the communes and to expand the vision of the community organizations beyond mere assistance programs to the development of local self-governance with socialist values.

“The commune is the concentration of efforts in a specific area in order for the force and vigor of socialism to blossom”, Chavez explained. “It’s not just about putting band-aids on problems or fixing a few houses”, he added.

In the two years that the San Juan Bolivar Commune has been operational in the state of Lara, the community has achieved the successful construction of a primary school, a communications center, a sports complex, and 251 homes for local residents.

During his visit, President Chavez approved funding for the construction of an additional one hundred houses for community members.

Fight against Bureaucracy

One of the main obstacles that community councils and communes have faced in their formation and implementation of projects has been the excessive bureaucracy that still exists in Venezuela.

When he announced the allocation of the 876 million bolivars for community initiatives on Saturday, Chavez was emphatic about the money arriving directly to the community councils and communes without the interference of local bureaucrats.

Directly addressing the Communes Minister, Isis Ochoa, Venezuela’s President expressed a policy of zero tolerance for bureaucratic meddling.

“Isis, you have to answer to me to ensure that in no way these resources are going to be taken by the bureaucracies of governors and mayors”, Chavez implored. “All of the projects must be carried out by the commune, not the bureaucracy”.

Granting Land Titles

Chavez announced on Saturday the granting of over 1,000 land titles and agricultural equipment to individual small farmers in the region of Sanare, also in the state of Lara.

According to the Venezuelan News Agency, 1,034 families will benefit from the titles, which make up a total of 3,578 hectares (8,841 acres).

Another six titles for a total of 2,117 hectares (5,231 acres) will be granted to local community councils and will benefit 354 families.

For the Venezuelan President, the granting of land titles to small producers and community organizations disproves allegations emanating from sectors of the conservative Venezuelan opposition claiming the government is attacking private property in the country.

“This act shows that the Revolution guarantees individual, private, and social property”, he affirmed.

In a similar ceremony that took place on Sunday in the state of Tachira, Chavez delivered an additional 500 land titles to small producers.

Published on Sep 13th 2010 at 11.05am