Excerpted from EWAN ROBERTSON:
“Communards have been meeting around the country on an independent basis to better organise their movement and present the government with their proposals and requirements for development.
In the Andean town of Mesa Bolivar, Mérida state, some 600 communards representing over 50 communes in the region gathered last weekend to discuss how communes can combat what they describe as an on-going “economic war” against the country’s Bolivarian revolution.
“The aim of this meeting is to reflect, debate and design actions against the economic war, in the areas of supply and revolutionary auditing [of distribution and sales], and in the area of production and socio economic projects,” said Alonso Rua, a member of the Communard Council of Mérida, to Venezuelanalysis.com.
The gathered activists, displaying a range of ages and backgrounds, many of whom were rural workers, met for an open air assembly in the town centre. They then held working groups on security, the economy, communication, and political education. Youth activists met in a separate meeting to discuss issues specific to them.
The more general aim of the meeting, the seventh of its kind over the past year, was to tighten links between commune activists and to advance the organisation of their movement toward goals of local self-management and production.
“What do we want with all this? First, self government, so that we are our own governors. That is to say, truly realise what the constitution says, which is a true democracy,” said Luis Pimental, a high school teacher and member of a commune near Lake Maracaibo, to VA.com.
The communard continued, “When talk began about communes, I was skeptical, and I asked myself, ‘Are we really prepared for this?’ Yet with what I’ve seen, I’ve realised that yes, there are a lot of people [in the commune movement] with a lot of knowledge, who have been making a valuable contribution”.
However, some communards warn that beyond the presidency and ministry of communes, many public institutions and figures have been resistant to recognising the growth and potential of the country’s commune movement.
“We continue coming up against a bureaucracy that is present within state institutions, that on many occasions doesn’t allow the community’s proposals to be attended,” said Betty Vargas of a commune in the city of Mérida. Her commune is currently planning to establish a new community run higher education centre in a semi-rural zone near the city.
Nevertheless the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) governor of Mérida state, two local mayors, and representatives of the national government and state institutions were present at the meeting in Mesa Bolivar.
During the open air assembly, the National Land Institute handed three communes new land titles as part of a policy to transfer land to communal organisations for the development of their productive and agricultural projects. One of the communes, India Caribay, plans to plant crops, fruits, and construct a fruit processing plant with public financing.
Liskeila Gonzalez, a youth member of the commune, told VA.com of the importance of such projects for the community. “I want the commune to achieve the creation of the farm and fruit processor. In the end, it’s the communities around India Caribay that will benefit, and if a person is in need, the fund [from production] will be there to help them,” she said.
She added, “In the commune we all take part in decision-making. There aren’t bosses, a president, anything like that. We’re all equal and we all work the same”.
A similar meeting of communards was held on the same weekend in the eastern state of Monagas, where reportedly hundreds of communards from 39 communes met.
Further, a national meeting of the independent National Communard Network is set to take place this weekend in Lara state in the west of the country. At least 3,000 are expected to attend, where discussions will take place to further advance communal organisation.”