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The Role of the Communes in Venezuela by Jesus Rojas

posted 2 Nov 2014, 10:04 by Gerry Kangalee
The comunas (communes) in Venezuela are community organizations intended to consolidate a new form of state based upon production at the local level as well as the significant challenges that remain in the struggle to build a new form of popular power from below. 

Above all, the comuna is a political space, not like the state or a parish; it is created by the people for the people. Currently there are many comunas in construction in the rural areas, where they are the strongest. Every comuna has its own reality depending on political culture and the form of production in the specific locale. For example, on the coastal zone the community is dedicated to fishing, while in a rural zone the production is based on the land. 

It`s being worked to discover which elements and principles unite these different experiences, which elements are the same despite the fact that the methods of production and cultures may be different. It`s being organized through national meetings where the comunas from north, south, east and west can share their experiences and learn from each other—the errors as well as the successes. 

The aims of the comunas are diverse and take different forms. Before the comuna existed there were all kinds of community organizations where people would participate looking for solutions to their problems; their neighbourhood association, the municipal government, etc. 

The goal of the comunas is to build on these processes and consolidate them by organizing on the basis of territory where people live. The comuna is a territorial space, but also a political space where the aim is to build socialism on a permanent basis, where the people take charge of their own education and political formation. The principles of Peaceful co existence are taught and a plan for a particular territory is elaborated What is new about the process is that the people are also elaborating their own plan of formation.

The people are very creative; the most advanced work with the other neighbours in this process to create a permanent space of formation. Civil servants, working for the state, who went to these spaces, quickly learned that the people were elaborating their own plan by and for themselves. 

Obviously some comunas are more advanced than other ones. It is much more difficult to build a comuna in urban areas, for example, because they have no experience with [different] forms of production; for example, they have no experience with [non-capitalist] social relations with the land. There is a dynamic in the city that is very capitalist. But in the rural areas they have conserved many elements of what is “ours”, from our ancestors, the indigenous communities, the Afro-Venezuelan communities. 

These values are still there. For this reason it is easier in the rural areas than in the urban areas. While there are fewer people in the countryside, the quality of the compañeros is very high. 

The comunas are a space of power. There are comunas that have executed more resources than some municipal governments. So, the comunas are constituted spaces of power, they would also make independent decisions in regards to administration and the use of funding.
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