[News] Interview with Angel Prado (Part II): 'The commune holds the solution to the crisis'

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
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 
productive chain?*

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 
commune produce?*

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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