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Community Self-Organisation & Production in Venezuela


On the weekend of Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 May, over 600 commune activists representing dozens on communes in the state of Mérida in the Venezuelan Andes met to build greater links between themselves and to advance their movement for community self organisation and production, what they refer to as “people’s self government”.

The movement has its roots in community organising stretching back years or even decades, however in the last few years it has entered a new phase, with new communes currently being formed across Venezuela.

Communes are formed out of groups of community councils, which are small neighbourhood organisations representing 250 – 400 families in which local residents organise to develop their local community and run community affairs. They can also receive public funds to undertake a variety of projects in their area.

Communes meanwhile are formed when an election in which all local residents can participate is held to elect spokespeople from each community council in the area to form a communal parliament, which has different sub committees and covers community affairs over a larger territorial zone. The commune can thus take on larger scale tasks and responsibilities than individual community councils. They can also register with the Ministry of Communes, which makes them eligible to apply for public funding for productive, educational, cultural, infrastructure or other development projects.

Many communes also organise within the independent National Commune Network and meet to build links between each other, including for the exchange of goods and services. The Ministry of Communes employs activists to facilitate the formation of communes, however criticisms are also often raised by commune members that some public figures and institutions have been slow to recognise and support the commune movement and its work.

The images below record the VII meeting between commune activists in Mérida state since the recent impulse to form new communes began. Commune members met to discuss the “economic war” and productive issues, as well as holding working groups on communication, security and defence, political education, and organisation. Youth members of communes also met apart to discuss issues specific to them.

The meeting came ahead of a national meeting of communes to take place this weekend in Lara state, where at least 3,000 activists representing different communes are expected to be present.

A full report of last weekend’s meeting will be published on Venezuelaanalysis.com later this week. Photographs and text by Ewan Robertson.