Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has launched the second phase of his Street Government initiative, with the aim of inaugurating new projects and strengthening community organisation.
The Street Government is a governance mechanism implemented by Maduro this year which involves the national executive visiting Venezuela’s regions and holding meetings with different neighbourhoods and social groups.
These meetings allow the government to orientate its regional development strategies and launch new projects with the support and involvement of communities.
A key aim of the second phase of the initiative is to check on projects agreed in the first phase of the Street Government. At a televised meeting in the western state of Barinas yesterday, President Maduro called this the “Three Is: inspection, initiation and inauguration” of projects.
This process of revision and monitoring is also held to be important in the government’s battle against corruption, which has been intensified this year.
A second aim of the new phase of the Street Government is to increase the role of community organisations in the implementation of new public works. As such, Maduro said the role of the Street Government was to “activate popular forces and convert them into government, solving problems and executing public works”.
The Venezuelan president also put emphasis on the need to strengthen the country’s communes, which the government regards as indispensable in the move towards a “21st century socialist” productive economic model.
Communes in Venezuela are made up of groups of communal councils, which are grassroots bodies composed of members of the local community. Communes are able to take on larger scale projects than community councils and further develop mechanisms of local self-governance.
“In this stage of the Street Government there’s a central objective: consolidate the construction of communes, accompany the people…giving them tools, power and knowledge, and the economic power to undertake their public works,” declared Maduro.
In September a national census of grassroots organisations was held by the government in order for the executive to better design policies supporting bodies of local self-governance in Venezuela. 33,223 communal councils, 1,234 communes, and 17,332 social movements were registered.
The first meeting of the new phase of the Street Government was held in Barinas, a state to the west of Venezuela where agriculture and cattle grazing are important sectors of the regional economy.
Accompanied by a group of cabinet ministers, President Nicolas Maduro reviewed projects promoting the agricultural and industrial development of the state.
Financing was approved for thirty community run urban agricultural plots, and a new 708 hectare state run agricultural complex was established to produce cattle and milk.
Credits were also granted to producers of corn and sunflowers, with Maduro highlighting his government’s commitment to increase Venezuela’s agricultural productivity and achieve “food sovereignty”.
Officials and analysts tend to coincide that agricultural land is underutilised in Venezuela, a historical problem linked to the latifundio structure of large-scale, unproductive estates primarily given over to cattle grazing rather than cultivation.
With Venezuela’s dependence on the import of food products and the country facing shortages in some basic foodstuffs this year, land use is an important issue for the government.
State officials point to increases in agricultural production under the administration of late President Hugo Chavez, but argue that much more needs to be done.
Yesterday President Maduro argued that government policies are leading to “the recovery little by little of the productive capacity of the Venezuelan countryside that was abandoned for over 100 years. We need to recover it, [and] occupy the productive land throughout Venezuela”.
[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis.]