[Marxism] The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project (Chris Gilbert)
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat May 20 16:18:26 MDT 2017
"Just as the late Hugo Chávez did not create the Bolivarian Revolution,
the Venezuelan state did not create the communes or the communal
councils that they comprise."
Special Report: Billions unaccounted for in Venezuela's communal
By Brian Ellsworth | CATIA LA MAR, VENEZUELA
The neighborhood of El Chaparral began receiving cash from the
Venezuelan government in 2005. The windfall came courtesy of the late
socialist leader Hugo Chavez's plan to fight poverty by transferring
billions of dollars in oil revenue to communities around the country.
Within a year, auto mechanic Juan Freire was urging authorities to cut
off El Chaparral and its sister community of Los Pinos, with a combined
population of 250. The money wasn't going to the needy, he says, and it
wasn't sowing growth. Instead, Freire alleges, leaders of the community
council in this mountain suburb were using some of the cash for personal
expenses and to build houses for family members. He and neighbors filed
complaints with nearly a dozen state agencies seeking a halt to the
Yet the money kept rolling in: In 2008, the council received close to $1
million - equal to about $4,000 a resident.
"When we filed complaints, the responses would always be something like,
‘We'll send some recommendations,'" said Freire, 57. "They never gave us
The unsupervised spending in El Chaparral is symptomatic of a vast
community aid effort with lax financial controls. A network of more than
70,000 community groups has received the equivalent of at least $7.9
billion since 2006 from the federal agency that provides much of the
financing for the program, Reuters calculates, based on official
The money is part of a broad government effort called the "communal
state" that steers funds to communities, primarily through an outfit
called the Autonomous National Fund for Community Councils, or Safonacc.
But exactly how much money passes through this system, who gets it and
how it's used are largely a mystery.
The communal revenue-sharing program was championed by the late Chavez.
The charismatic former military officer wanted small neighborhood groups
to form "communes" that would define civic life and anchor a
citizen-driven socialist democracy. In one of his last speeches before
dying of cancer in 2013, Chavez tasked his handpicked successor, Nicolas
Maduro, with advancing the plan.
"I entrust this to you as I would my life," he told Maduro, a former bus
driver who narrowly won election last year.
The most common of such organizations are the community councils, which
number about 40,000, according to a 2013 Communes Ministry study. The
study also identified another 30,000 such organizations, including
networks of community councils.
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