[News] Interview with Angel Prado (Part II): 'The commune holds the solution to the crisis'
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Thu Aug 23 11:48:57 EDT 2018
Interview with Angel Prado (Part II): 'The commune holds the solution
to the crisis'
By Angel Prado and Ricardo Vaz – August 22, 2018
/El Maizal commune is located in the middle of the Venezuelan plains,
between the Lara and Portuguesa states. With a history of struggle and
construction of popular power, it is a flagship of the communal movement
in Venezuela. Continuing the discussion begun in Part I of the interview
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14005>, we talked to Angel Prado,
communal spokesman, about the political project that El Maizal is
pushing forward, the questioned mayor’s elections of December, the role
of the commune in the current context, and how the issue of the commune
should enter into the new constitution./
*El Maizal produces corn but sells its harvest to the state company
Agropatria (1). However, if the commune is to contribute to the
construction of socialism, should there not be control over the entire
That is one of our aims in building the communal city and accumulating
forces to allow us to grow and move forward. A first stage involves
controlling more means of production, because we need them to go beyond
being just primary producers and enter the cycle of industrialization.
Before that happens, we know we will come up against a variety of
enemies, but we will also count on plenty of allies in the government
and throughout the country.
We believe that, with our experience and political capital, we cannot
continue being mere raw material producers and hand everything over to
the state or the private sector, and then leave this region with no
supplies, which is absurd. The issue of self-government is about people
realizing that territorial self-government is capable of solving
problems. And right now the priority is food, and our economy is based
on food production, so we cannot go on producing and have the state or
the private sector take it all in the end.
For that reason, this year we are creating a network of micro-companies,
using very basic technology, that will be able to receive, process,
conserve and distribute within the communities. For example, for corn we
have a small mill and we have the barn ready to install a small machine
to process corn. The only step remaining is to build silos, even if in a
do-it-yourself fashion. The milk and meat production, which has been
increasing, is not being sold to the state nor to the private sector,
but is instead distributed directly to the community. The same thing
goes for coffee, vegetables and other things we are growing here in the
commune and with small producers.
The next step is to set up a small industry that will at least allow us
to enter this dynamic and consolidate an industrial system adapted to
our capacity. We will not have a mega-industry like Polar (2), but we
should at least be able to process what we produce.
*With an agricultural commune, it is easy to imagine making the
organization around production. But if we consider the case of an urban
commune, how can production be carried out there? What does an urban
I believe that organization is born out of necessity. Where there is a
larger population, there is greater necessity. What is not produced in
the countryside can be produced in the city. Here we can grow corn and
raise cattle because we have the right conditions to do so, but in a
city, in any house one can produce clothing, or the eyeglasses one
needs, watches and shoes. One can also process food.
Now there is a certain “complex” we sometimes perceive, a selfish
attitude among those who live in urban areas and believe that only
campesinos should produce, that only campesinos need to organize in
communes. If we were to apply the same logic, why not consider those in
the city to be mere parasites? If a truck with food goes from here to
Caracas, then it should return from Caracas with clothing! This is an
important debate. We have told many communities in Lara state, that it
is fine to come to El Maizal and buy something at a fair price, but what
are you contributing from your end?
In the urban barrios of big cities, where there is a high concentration
of people, there needs to be organizing, be it around the problem of
security, of social coexistence, healthcare or services, in addition to
developing productive activities. The big industries, the mechanical
workshops, etc., are in the city. The workers live in the barrios!
Because of this accumulation of people, there is also better access to
information and technology. In effect, we need to dispel the myth that
the productive commune can only exist in the countryside.
*What do you think should be the role of National Constituent Assembly
(ANC), of which you are a member, in the current political context?*
I believe the Constituent Assembly should have assumed the role of
legislating and taking tough decisions in order to really tackle the
economic crisis. We have always seen the government depositing a lot of
trust in the private sector, allocating dollars, and making concessions.
We have given plenty of opportunities to the private sector, and yet
what we see is the situation getting worse every day with regard to
food, prices, inflation, etc.
The ANC received a lot of support for two main reasons, one had to do
with the guarimbas and the need to secure peace, which to a certain
extent it did. The other was the economic situation, which
overwhelmingly affects poor people, and is still to be solved. Now, I
believe the ANC also has the role of restructuring the constitution and
implementing a series of laws to allow for an accelerated advance
towards the communal, socialist state that we believe in and which
Chávez proposed. There is a great deal of interest and hope to see, once
we win the elections (3), what political course the country is going to
take, keeping in mind that the ANC has yet to take the important
decisions it should.
*How should the commune figure in the new constitution?*
We believe the commune should be a theme that runs through the entire
constitution and not just an article in it. If the commune marks the way
forward, then the whole constitution needs to reflect that, so that the
state is reoriented towards the communal state and socialism. It makes
no sense to have 350 articles and then add a 351st which states that the
commune exists! I believe that, from the first article to the last, the
issue of communes needs to cut across the constitution, to make clear
the kind of state we want to build.
We should also point out that the commune is not just about legal and
administrative questions. It is also a cultural issue; it has to do with
building a new culture of government, a new way of doing politics and of
managing and assigning resources. All of that needs to be addressed by
the new constitution. Furthermore, when we talk about culture, that also
has to do with terminology. By contrast, when we talk about
municipalities or parishes, that is not ours!
Therefore, the commune also has to do with the territorial organization
of the country. El Maizal is in two municipalities, in two states, but
it is the same phenomenon. More than a political and territorial
breakdown, the challenge is to create a new way of organizing the
territory based on the people’s logic, the human geography, and do away
with borders that were inherited from colonialism. In a way, it is about
going back to Simón Rodríguez’s concept of toparchy: the government from
the territory and with the territory.
*We also need to take into account Chávez’s proposals regarding the
commune that he made on many occasions…*
I believe the proposal that President Chávez made was quite concrete,
and his proposals regarding the new geometry of power are very
interesting. On the question of, territorial organization, we find his
proposals very appealing. For example, Chávez put forth the idea of the
communal council, and then that of the commune. After the commune, he
launched the idea of the communal city and then came the communal
federation. Finally, at the highest level, we would have a confederation
of communes spanning the whole country.
Now, I believe this should lead to an interesting and intense debate in
the ANC, with a view to recovering, in case we have forgotten it, the
proposal of comandante Chávez. It is one way of moving forward. It might
not be the only or the most perfect one, but Chávez studied presented
it, and from where we stand we believe it could be a viable way to carry
out the territorial organization of the new state as we move towards
As I said, El Maizal is a territory that spans two states, and our
communal city will spread through many parishes. The communal federation
we envision, from here to Buría, which is an area where there are four
communes, would incorporate territory across three states: Yaracuy, Lara
and Portuguesa. Therefore I think the new constitution needs to address
this new territorial order the way Chávez presented it: with new
terminology, new forms, a new logic, and with the new geometry of power
in the territory.
(1) In a forthcoming article, we will delve into the productive
activities of the El Maizal commune, as well as its complex relationship
with the state.
(2) Venezuela’s largest food conglomerate.
(3) This interview was conducted in May 2017, before the May 20
presidential elections in which Nicolás Maduro won reelection.
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