Caracas, October 27, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan popular organizations are demanding greater state support for their economic projects.
The issue of the state purchasing the production from communes came to the forefront during a public meeting featuring President Nicolás Maduro, several of his ministers, and communards from across the country on October 20.
The gathering was held in Caracas to commemorate the 11th anniversary of former President Hugo Chávez’s final major public speech, the so-called “Strike at the Helm.”
During his speech, Maduro queried his cabinet members on whether state institutions were buying the output from communal enterprises. The loud jeers from the crowd saw the Venezuelan president order his ministers to draw up a plan.
“We have not delivered on the promise to prioritize the purchases of communal production,” he said.
The October 20 meeting likewise saw the Venezuelan government approve a US $10 million fund to support the Communal Economic Circuits. The circuits are an initiative from the Ministry of Communes to bring together socially owned companies that focus on similar products in a given geographical area, in order to lower production costs and facilitate sales.
Maduro additionally signed off on the transfer to grassroots collectives of 48 facilities from the former subsidized supermarket chains PDVAL and Mercal as well as 16 presently inactive industrial plants.
However, the issue of state purchases sparked strong debates amidst the communal movement, sources told Venezuelanalysis. Grassroots organizations have voiced concerns that, amidst the US economic blockade, liberal overtures from the Maduro administration to kickstart the economy have increasingly favored the private sector.
The Venezuelan President addressed the matter again during his “Con Maduro +” broadcast on Monday. Upon reviewing a proposal drawn up by his Communes and Trade Ministers, he claimed that it did not “solve the major problems” identified.
“We have to get rid of the bureaucratic hurdles that kill hopes,” Maduro declared. “We need an immediate pathway that allows for the registration of communal enterprises and a serious plan to grow communal production.”
The Communard Union, an alliance that brings together more than 60 communes from 15 different states, reacted with a communique with specific proposals to boost social production. It stated that there is a need to go beyond public purchases and start conceiving a “communal economic system.”
Juan Lenzo, a member of the Communard Union’s national leadership, told Venezuelanalysis that the organization’s goal was to secure support “beyond state purchases” in order to tackle “contradictions along the entire productive chain.”
“This is why our statement highlights important needs in terms of registering communal enterprises, creating finance instruments, transferring means of production and providing technical support and training,” he explained.
Lenzo argued that these were long-time demands from popular movements that have “resisted against the economic crisis and the unilateral sanctions from the US and allies.” He went on to recall Chávez’s warnings during the “Strike at the Helm” address concerning the dangers facing isolated socialist economic endeavors.
“We believe it is essential to halt the policies favoring the private sector that the government has implemented amidst the pressure caused by US sanctions,” the activist affirmed. “In contrast, according to the president’s declared support for communes, we need policies that protect the communal economy from the voracity of capital.”
Finally, Lenzo expressed that the Communard Union places great emphasis on building links in order to increase the territorial reach of popular power organizations on a national scale. In economic terms, he mentioned that several communes participate in the Economic Circuits, while the Union itself is working to set up production and distribution routes.
Hugo Chávez defined the communes as the “building blocks” for the construction of socialism. Each commune brings together several communal councils in a given territory, with democratically elected spokespeople and an assembly as the highest decision-making body. Communes also control means of production through social property enterprises.
According to the Communes Ministry, there are currently 3,641 officially registered communes.