Monday, April 28, 2008

The communal councils failure

Tal Cual in its editorial by Alejandro Botia looks at the failure of one of the essential programs of chavismo: the communal councils.

As the editorial explains, these councils which have been tried under different forms and functions and whose origins could be indirectly traced to the in-famous Bolivarian Circles had a noble theoretical concept: the small communities would be empowered to design themselves their own plans to solve their very local needs. Of course, the idea is good as long as it is limited to small local needs and does not require complex, multi community planning for larger projects such as mass transit or hospital construction. But the aims of the government were different and came clear during the constitutional reform project mercifully defeated on December 2.

Long time reader Virginia did write a critical review of that particular constitutional proposal where the real intentions of the government are exposed. In short, what the government of Chavez wants/wanted was to atomize local forms of government to make them completely subject to the central state and avoid the constitution of any federal association that could contradict in any way or form or shape the central control from Caracas chavismo. A new meaning for "divide and conquer". That many of the votes of these councils would be taken with raised hands would have also helped a lot in the total political control of the country as opponents of central decisions would have been easily spotted and counted, or reduced to silence. This is perhaps the real final aim of chavismo, circle and silence opponents, as former minister Isturiz, now one of the PUSV vice president so eloquently stated a few days ago when he asked the PUSV battalions to make lists of "enemies" of the PUSV. Not political opponents, "enemies" (El Nacional, last Saturday, by subscription, includes the numerous times that Isturiz, former education minister, used vulgar expressions not fit for this family oriented blog).

Anyway, below is the translation of the editorial whose original in Spanish can be read here.

FRACASO DESCOMUNAL (pun that cannot be easily translated, the closest would be uncommon failure, for uncommon-communal)

From whichever angle you look at the misnamed "revolution" of Hugo Chávez there is a monument to inefficiency, brimming with petty corruption, mismanagement, fraud and abuse of authority.

Where is the Park of La Carlota, or the University of Miraflores? What happened to the Socialists 200 factories, the 20 plants of the Iranian industrial project, or the city of steel? Where did end up the “engine Moral and Enlightenment” [Moral y Luces]? What happened with the presidential commissions for food, mass employment, Public Safety or the Economic Constituent Assembly? Well, nothing. Everything was in pledges, hot air nonsense at Alo Presidente, while looting the public purse increases every day with a shameful record track with such cases as the Central Sugar Ezequiel Zamora (Caeez), Fondafa, Fondur, Mercal and a long and endless list of Etcetera.

The Government keeps pretending to see the people as nincompoop and still uses the same pretexts to justify its buffoon incompetence: that the shortages are the fault of a conspiracy of the stateless oligarchy. That insecurity is the caused by the Colombian paramilitaries. That the social protests are part of a nefarious plan by the FBI and the CIA to overthrow Chavez.

There is one area, however, where the failure of Chavez is well known and extremely regrettable: the so-called People's Power. Nobody remembers the Law on Local Councils Planning adopted in 2002 to incorporate citizens in the design, implementation and monitoring of municipal budgets.

The initiative was abandoned early and never really applied. The Technical Support groups previewed to advise communities in project design were never created and when the period of the first delegates expired there was no election to replace them.

For all practical purposes today they are dissolved.

The final blow came in 2006 with the Law on Communal Councils (CC), which broke the link between municipalities and communities to make them depend directly from the central power. Since its inception, Miraflores had set as a goal to create 50 thousand CC and last year announced with fanfare funds of 3.7 trillion old bolivares to finance them.

At the closing of 2007 there had been formed the not insignificant number of 33,549 CC, but only 9,736 (or, less than 30%) received funding, according to official figures. Of the funds approved, barely Bs. 761 billion, equivalent to 20% of the total, were assigned and the rest (Bs. 2.8 billion) was transferred to a trust in the Bank Treasury.

This year the government has announced two new payment of resources in Bs.F.

842 million (old billions) to fund 4,348 projects. But what about the 19 thousand CC who have not yet received any funds? As part of the mission on April 13, Chavez now seeks to choose 74 municipalities and 381 parishes "in particular state of crisis" to direct state aid.

In conclusion, universal coverage without political conditions for social programs is over. Far from solving the needs in communities, the Government has created a sort of forced begging for townships and a new delusion in the popular sectors, with the aggravating factor of seeking to politicize social assistance.


-The end-

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