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 thatcommunity councils and communeshave faced in their formationand implementation of projectshas been the excessive bureaucracythat still exists in Venezuela.
When he announced the allocationof the 876 million bolivars forcommunity initiatives on Saturday,Chavez was emphatic aboutthe money arriving directly to thecommunity councils and communeswithout the interferenceof local bureaucrats.
Directly addressing the CommunesMinister, Isis Ochoa, Venezuela’sPresident expressed apolicy of zero tolerance for bureaucraticmeddling.
“Isis, you have to answer to me toensure that in no way these resourcesare going to be taken by the bureaucraciesof governors and mayors”,Chavez implored. “All of theprojects must be carried out by thecommune, not the bureaucracy”.
Granting Land Titles
Chavez announced on Saturdaythe granting of over 1,000 land titlesand agricultural equipment to individualsmall farmers in the region ofSanare, also in the state of Lara.
According to the VenezuelanNews Agency, 1,034 families willbenefit from the titles, whichmake up a total of 3,578 hectares (8,841 acres).
Another six titles for a total of2,117 hectares (5,231 acres) will begranted to local community councilsand will benefit 354 families.
For the Venezuelan President, thegranting of land titles to small producersand community organizationsdisproves allegations emanatingfrom sectors of the conservativeVenezuelan opposition claimingthe government is attacking privateproperty in the country.
“This act shows that the Revolutionguarantees individual,private, and social property”, heaffirmed.
In a similar ceremony that tookplace on Sunday in the state ofTachira, Chavez delivered an additional500 land titles to smallproducers.