Mérida, 14th August 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela's newest socialist commune has been established in the western state of Lara. Named after a 20th Century communist guerrilla, the commune brings together the ten communal councils of Hato Arriba.
Located in the municipality of Moran, Hato Arriba is an agricultural community of approximately 500 families.
“This 11th of August is a historic date for us, for our social development, for our work in unity,” said Marcos Escalona, a spokesperson for the Hato Viejo communal council, following the creation of the commune.
“[The commune] is a step towards mobilization, inclusion, participation and communication...a step taken in the battle against those who do not believe in the organisation of our people, in the organisation of our farmers,” Escalona told local media.
The commune has been named “Captain Carmelo Mendoza”, after a communist guerrilla that lived in the mountains of the Moran municipality. In 1965, Mendoza was captured by government forces, before being tortured and killed.
Local community radio presenter Egidio Guedez has supported the commune. “We can say that here we have grown with support and revolutionary solidarity,” Guedez stated.
Since the Law of Communal Councils was passed in 2006, thousands of communal councils like those in Hato Arriba, and numerous communes, have been established nationwide.
In 2007, just over 19,500 councils were registered in Venezuela; today, that figure has surpassed 44,000. This year, community groups including the councils and communes are set to receive US$2.04 billion in funding from the national government's Inter-territorial Compensation Fund.
The councils are made up of members of the local community and carry out tasks related to community development. Multiple councils can form together to create a commune, which can undertake larger scale projects than the smaller communal councils.
However, a commune can only be established after fulfilling a series of criteria established under Venezuelan law. Such criteria include a census of the community, an analysis of local issues that can be addressed by the body and a statement of principles. Last June, Hato Arriba took its first step towards establishing a commune when it founded the community radio station.
A charter must also be voted on by local citizens in a referendum. If the referendum passes, then the commune can be registered, as in Hato Arriba this week. Currently, there are around 200 communes under construction across Venezuela.
According to an article from the community radio station Radio Comunitaria Dinira Libertaria, the referendum was undertaken by secret ballot at ten voting stations in the area. Citizens were reportedly informed of the vote by the radio station.