Self-Government in Times of Blockade: Luisa Cáceres Commune (Part I)


Despite sanctions, a commune finds novel ways to survive through collecting and recycling waste in one of Venezuela’s coastal cities.

Communal Resistance Series

Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi communards. (Voces Urgentes)

Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi communards. (Voces Urgentes)

Eastern Venezuela is home to extensive petroleum extraction and processing operations which have their hub in the cities of Barcelona and Puerto la Cruz in Anzoátegui state. The Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi Commune, one of the most advanced communes in the country, grew up in the shadow of this multibillion-dollar business in one of Barcelona’s working-class neighborhoods. This is a rapidly-growing commune – remarkable because of its success in an urban context – which focuses on recycling and waste disposal to maintain itself. In Part I of this two-part series, Luisa Caceres’ communards explain the challenges of building a commune in a country besieged by US imperialism.

History, Productive Projects & Organization

The Luisa Cáceres Commune has its headquarters in an abandoned lot that was cleaned up by the communards and put at the service of the community. It is a multi-space that serves as the epicenter of the commune’s recycling work, the home to a communal garden, and a site for meetings and assemblies. Near a splendid mural showing independence heroin Luisa Caceres and renowned 20th-century writer Aquiles Nazoa, the communards met with us to explain the history of their organization.

Carlos Herrera is a parliamentarian, a member of the commune’s executive committee, and the coordinator of the recycling company. Ingrid Arcila is the commune’s parliamentarian for public services. Arturo Aguache is a communal parliamentarian. Johann Tovar is a communal parliamentarian and part of the Communard Union’s direction. Rosa Cáceres is the public services spokesperson for her communal council; she is in charge of the Pablo Characo Nursery. Manuel Cherema is the commune's security coordinator and Chief Supervisor of the Bolivarian Police in Anzoátegui. (Voces Urgentes)

Carlos Herrera is a parliamentarian, a member of the commune’s executive committee, and the coordinator of the recycling company. Ingrid Arcila is the commune’s parliamentarian for public services. Arturo Aguache is a communal parliamentarian. Johann Tovar is a communal parliamentarian and part of the Communard Union’s direction. Rosa Cáceres is the public services spokesperson for her communal council; she is in charge of the Pablo Characo Nursery. Manuel Cherema is the commune’s security coordinator and Chief Supervisor of the Bolivarian Police in Anzoátegui. (Voces Urgentes)


Carlos Herrera: We began laying the basis for the commune some eight years ago, but the process really picked up steam in the past four years. We are advancing in the right direction – I think – and that means moving toward popular self-government.

Of course, this is not easy. As a dear comrade says, “If it is hard to agree about things at home, then we shouldn’t be surprised to find communal organizing to be hard.” This is even more true in a capitalist society in crisis, where individual interests tend to impede collective goals.

Little by little, however, we are building a space where the collective is center stage and the commune becomes the base for the construction of the new society. The construction process involves a great deal of work and sacrifice

Arturo Aguache: It was in 2018 that we fully registered the commune in legal terms. Since then, we have been advancing through trial and error, with some moments more marked by institutional cooperation, and others by friction with the state institutions.

In the past few years, with the sanctions weighing hard on us, we discovered that, as an urban commune, our focus should be services: that is what we have done. But our goal is not just to solve problems. Our real aim is popular empowerment through self-government, in a democratic manner, and outside the logic of capital.

Johan Tovar: The commune has the name “Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi” in honor of a great patriot. During the Independence Wars, the royalists killed her husband and imprisoned her. In the dungeons, Caceres was offered her life if she would appeal for royal clemency, pledge allegiance to the king, and abide by the law. Unwilling to do that, she took a gun from one of the officers and shot him. Of course, she was locked down after that, but Luisa Caceres never bowed down to them. She was a true patriot, who stood by her principles. That is why our commune bears her name.


Herrera: Our commune is in the middle of an urban center, in what Rubén Blades called “the concrete jungle” [selva de cemento]. That location, of course, brought some challenges with it, since there are no communal lands here and what “grows” here are shops and alienation. So in its early days, the commune had a hard time finding ways to produce.

Around 2018 or 2019, the crisis and the sanctions began to hit us hard. All the powers that be were aligned against the Venezuelan people and its government. [Lorenzo] Mendoza, the owner of the Polar food conglomerate, was also battling against our people: Harina PAN [Polar cornmeal] was hard to get and people were going hungry.

So we decided to build a small cornflour processing plant. Our dream was to supply our community with it. The plant worked for a while, but eventually the price of corn skyrocketed, fuel was nowhere to be found, and we were not able to keep the plant going.

While this project failed, we learned about supply chains and about the need to plan our production. We kept on dreaming… Now there are two Communal Property Enterprises [EPS]: one for trash collection and another for recycling.

Tovar: Chávez always emphasized the importance of science and technology to solve the problems that our society faces. Our experience shows that he was right: we need commitment and organization, but we also need to acquire knowledge and organize production efficiently.

Chávez also taught us that a communal society comes with a new geometry of power and a new organization in both the economic and the political spheres. Self-government is at the core of that proposal.

Here at the Luisa Cáceres Commune, we are advancing in that direction. Our highest governing body is the assembly, which is a space of deliberation and collective control of the accounts: the assembly is the seed of self-government.

Meeting at the Luisa Cáceres Commune. (Voces Urgentes)

Meeting at the Luisa Cáceres Commune. (Voces Urgentes)


Herrera: When it comes to the organization of the Luisa Cáceres Commune, we basically follow what is laid out in the Organic Law for Communes. Let’s walk through it step by step: our first organ for deliberation is the Communal Parliament. That parliament is made up of one spokesperson per communal council [there are 24] and three parliamentarians representing the communal enterprises, plus the Communal Bank’s spokesperson.

The parliament meets on the first Saturday of every month to talk about operative and organizational issues, review planning and resources, etc.

The commune also has an Executive Council made up of three spokespeople as well as Economic, Comptroller, Planning, and Administration councils. The latter coordinates issues such as public services, healthcare, housing, culture and education, and territorial defense among other responsibilities.

Tovar: We hope that our commune will give birth to a new material reality and a new consciousness. Following Chávez, we understand the commune as the key to solving the contradictions and problems in our society, and we think that we are inching forward in that direction.

Gas distribution at the Luisa Cáceres Commune. (Voces Urgentes)

Gas distribution at the Luisa Cáceres Commune. (Voces Urgentes)

Impact of the Blockade vs. Communal Solutions

Far from being passive during the crisis, the Luisa Cáceres Commune has developed a range of creative responses to difficulties as they emerge. In this way, they are demonstrating that communes can provide a popular, sovereign solution to the crisis.

Herrera: The impact of the blockade has been enormous, and it has also hurt grassroots organizations, particularly in the early days of the crisis. When people struggle to get enough food on the table for their families, it is very difficult to maintain grassroots organizations active.

During the worst of the crisis, many had to walk kilometers to get to work because they had no money to pay for bus fare, while others, particularly younger people, left the country. Others simply died because they couldn’t afford to buy the medicines they needed. This was all very painful.

The blockade affects everyone, from the young to the old. It is a criminal policy.

Manuel Cherema: The early days of the blockade were very hard for everyone, including the commune, but we didn’t sit still. In fact, our first communal enterprise was a small cornflour-making processing plant, and we were able to sell the cornflour at an accessible price. That enterprise is not active right now, but we learned a lot with the project.

Tovar: The blockade hit us hard, but the truth is that the hardest years of the crisis have been when we began to expand as a commune.. Interestingly, this also happened at El Maizal Commune and Che Guevara Commune. El Maizal took over productive spaces, the Che Guevara built industrial plants and greenhouses, and we took over waste collection and began the recycling work.

In our case, this all happened while the institutions were dormant during the pandemic. The commune was able to give an efficient response to people’s needs regarding a growing public health problem due to trash accumulation.

Herrera: Indeed, we were able to expand as an organization during the crisis. Why? Because we went on working and couldn’t count on getting economic support from the state. In fact, the state’s lack of attention served as a kick in the pants to communal organization.


Ingrid Arcila: We soon felt the impact of the sanctions and the blockade in our very bodies. Around 2016 food became scarce: we had to stand in lines for hours on end. Then came the medicine shortages: basic drugs such as diazepam were hard to get.

Now medicines and food are available, but prices are exorbitant. This situation becomes particularly complex when a loved one has to get an operation. Hospitals are short on supplies, so families have to get everything from gauze and latex gloves to sterilizers and antibiotics.

That is where the commune comes in: we often work to open institutional channels so that people with low resources will get support from the municipality or from another public office. This helps, but unfortunately, we have lost many people in the commune due to this situation.

In the future, when the commune’s means of production are consolidated, a part of our surplus will be earmarked for such emergencies.

Tovar: Here in the commune, the sanctions, the blockade, and the crisis limited our access to healthcare. The local CDIs [a community-based medical system begun under Chávez] started to collapse during the worst times.

When we saw that this was happening, the community got organized to better administer the medical personnel and the limited resources available. We started communal voluntary work days to paint and sanitize the spaces of the local CDI. However, we also organized so that the institutions would fix problems such as broken air conditioners. This was very important because many operating rooms had no AC, which made them useless.

The community likewise organized successfully to stop the theft of medicines. This may surprise you, but in situations of crisis, contradictions become more visible. That is why the community itself worked to supervise, introduce complaints, and establish strict monitoring of healthcare.

The blockade took many lives, and that was very painful. But it is even more painful when the situation is compounded by problems among us. Individualism takes control of a part of society when things get really hard. When that happens, there is one way forward: more organization, more communalization.

Luisa Caceres Commune Headquarters

Luisa Cáceres Commune headquarters. (Voces Urgentes)

Luisa Cáceres Commune headquarters. (Voces Urgentes)


Herrera: The sanctions on [state oil company] PDVSA had a devastating impact on society as a whole: production and distribution became a problem, and people had difficulties getting to work and even to the hospital.

For the commune, when the diesel shortages began, we faced an additional problem: we could not proceed with our trash collection schedule, and garbage piled up in the streets.

Tovar: When the fuel shortages were at their worst, another contradiction emerged: large capitalist enterprises had favorable agreements and would get very generous gas rations, whereas the commune would get a very small monthly allowance that was far below what was needed to do waste collection in the territory.

That is why we had to begin a public campaign: we let it be known that the Commune’s truck was not doing garbage collection because we had no fuel. Eventually, local cadres of the [PSUV] party heard us, and we reached an agreement.

Rosa Cáceres: About two years ago, getting cooking gas became a very serious problem as well. Since we are in an urban area where cooking with firewood is not an option, we had real problems. After a few months, we organized and reached an agreement with PDVSA Gas. Now the commune coordinates gas distribution, and it is working very well.

Here, at the commune, we look for collective solutions to our collective problems… and we have learned that popular power is very efficient in solving the day-to-day problems of the community. Of course, institutions also have a role in solving the problems that the pueblo faces day-to-day.

Arcila: The blockade had a huge impact on public services, particularly electricity, water, gas, and transportation. Lack of maintenance led to blackouts, irregular water supply, and poor public transportation.

For example, the water processing plant here often comes to a halt because it’s not possible for the state to acquire replacement parts. That means that we have sometimes gone up to seven days without running water here.

Another problem that we face is the telephone service. Phone cables are very expensive and theft is common, but CANTV [national phone company] cannot purchase replacements due to the blockade. Right now, more than 70% of the people in the commune have no telephone service.

Finding solutions to all these problems isn’t easy, but the commune has a Public Services Committee that works with public institutions to tend to the problems we have.

We have also organized “brigades.” A very active one is the Water Brigade which works on problems such as broken pipes, so that the water supply will be a bit more regular.

Tovar: Transferring city services to communes is viable. The Water Brigade is solving many problems at a local level. In the past, when we had a problem such as a broken water main, we would have to wait for the city to send a professional. That could last days, weeks, or even months.

Now, when there is a problem in the commune, we activate the brigade. The brigade is a communal initiative, but it is financed by the regional office of the Water Ministry. That institution provides the salaries, but the commune autonomously organizes the work. We have found this to be a very efficient method.

The communal project has been empowering people, through initiatives such as this. The fact that we can solve problems stimulates organization and gives people hope. Although we don’t have financial autonomy, we are moving toward self-government in the commune’s territory.

Aguache: Because ours is an urban commune, deteriorating public services due to the blockade became an enormous problem. However, that situation led us to organize and look for solutions. In so doing, the commune became a beacon or model in the community. It also became clear to us that communal organization could – if responsibilities and resources are transferred to it – solve our own problems.

We cannot celebrate the sanctions in any way, shape, or form, but we have learned a few things along the way: as an urban commune, when we take over services originally assigned to the state, we can do it efficiently and in a self-organized way.

Cáceres: Organization has been key to solving some of our problems, but there is still a lot to do. I should add, however, that the CLAP [subsidized food distribution] structure, which is alive and well in our region, has been a very useful tool. It has allowed us to reach those in the community who are not necessarily committed to self-organization.


Arcila: Any crisis will bring social problems with it. When the crisis here was at its height, theft went up and other social problems intensified, so we began to think about what to do.

That is why we are promoting the creation of Security Brigades in the communal councils here. Our idea is not to police each other, but to strengthen our commune: to build a society where peace and solidarity prevail.

Cherema: We are participating in a communal security pilot plan that former mayor [and current Anzoátegui governor] Luis José Marcano has proposed. Four communes in total are participating in this plan, which is a step toward building the communal city. The aim of the initiative is to rethink and implement a security plan from the grassroots. In fact, this is a legacy from Chávez: he talked about the need to move towards a communal police system that would not come from the outside.

New conceptions of peace and security should replace the old policing practices. Chávez also said that the police should be closer to the people, it should not be an external force. Following his guidelines, we are setting up communal brigades to learn about security, popular intelligence, and defense of what is held in common in the territory.

The communal security plan goes hand in hand with the National Bolivarian Police [PNB] but it is not an appendix of that governmental body. Each security brigade will have a spokesperson that coordinates its activity and, if needed, can work with the PNB. There will also be people in charge of intelligence, and we will establish the figure of the peace mediator. Our communal security plan is not punitive but rather conciliatory.

Creative Tensions in the Communal Project: A Conversation with Hernán Vargas (Part I)

Recently named Vice-minister of Communal Economy, Hernán Vargas is a longstanding activist of the Pobladores movement in defense of the right to housing. In this two-part interview, Vargas reflects on a variety of themes including the tensions that have emerged between the state and grassroots groups, the exhaustion of the rentier economic model, and the Communes Ministry’s role in the project of communalizing society.

In a process of transformation, contradictions are destined to emerge. However, in the Bolivarian Revolution, some of the contradictions between the state and the grassroots movements might be seen as “creative tensions” [a term coined by Álvaro García Linera]. As a person who comes from a grassroots movement but now has a role in the ministry, what creative tensions do you see operating in Venezuela today?

Although it has been transformed at many levels over the past twenty years, the Venezuelan state continues to carry an institutional baggage inherited from the colonial model based on looting and dispossession. This contradiction operates in all Latin American countries where there are progressive processes of transformation.

When the communalization of society – the emergence of grassroots democracy, self-government, and new social relations centered on life – began to take shape, a clash between the old state and the emerging model could not be avoided. This situation can become more or less acute depending on the correlation of forces.

The Venezuelan state has different spheres of action, from the local to the national, and certain class interests may enter into contradiction with communal initiatives at the regional level. At the end of the day, we are talking about a struggle between the old and new model. Such a struggle will emerge in any revolution.

However, it’s also worth highlighting that the Bolivarian Process has long been characterized by the transformative power of its creative tensions. In fact, creative tensions are at the very origin of the Chavista project, and I would even dare to say that they are the root of the communal model. As such, many of the contradictions that emerge should not be interpreted as a limit or a barrier, but as a spark.

From my point of view, what looms over us today is the absence of a debate to get rid of false contradictions. This debate is necessary so that Chavismo can turn its internal contradictions into productive, creative tensions.


A communal assembly at El Maizal Commune. (VTV)

A communal assembly at El Maizal Commune. (VTV)

What are the policies that you are currently promoting from the Ministry of Communes?

The ministry’s orientation now is a line of work aimed at triggering the reactivation of popular power. In 2006 Chávez talked about the “explosion [flourishing] of popular power.” In so doing, he initiated a new era where communal councils (and later communes) were at the center of the political sphere. That is not to say that there weren’t grassroots organizations before 2006, but most of those developed and intermingled with the new communal project.

The main challenge of the Ministry of Communes is to promote communal power in the current conditions, marked by a blockade and exhaustion of the rentier model. We cannot attempt to mechanically duplicate what Chávez did in his time. With his 3R.nets [an initiative to address the pressing problems in Venezuela], President Nicolás Maduro is pointing to a new era with radically different material conditions, but with the same historical objective.

The end of rentierism [overreliance on oil profits] is becoming a reality in Venezuela, but the rentier “model” is alive and well. That is, the majority of the people hope for a recomposition of rentierism and the same can be said for the political class. Indeed the country should aim toward the recovery of some of our oil exploitation – as it does – but the old rentier model is not viable.

In the midst of this sea-change, [Communes Minister Jorge] Arreaza has been calling for the renovation of communal councils while pushing for the activation of citizens’ assemblies [the governing body in communal councils]. In so doing, we are wagering on socialism. However, beyond activating the communal model on a political level, we are working to activate the communal economy. In the next few months, our plan is to go to the communes, listen to the people, and see what is going on there. Based on that research, we will build a comprehensive plan.

For the communal project to develop, there has to be a life-centered economic project to sustain it. In other words, the economic model for the communes cannot reproduce the logic of capital.

We are exploring mechanisms to encourage the emergence of an economic model based on life. Of course, there will be contradictions and some will try to get a “good deal” out of it, but we see our role in the ministry as accompanying the communes and other communal organizations, and fostering channels so that conditions for the reproduction of life outside of the logic of capital can flourish.


Renacer de Chávez, formerly known as Arreboles de Barinas, is an indirect communal social property enterprise. (Vive TV)

Renacer de Chávez, formerly known as Arreboles de Barinas, is an indirect communal social property enterprise. (Vive TV)

These aims are admirable, but what are your concrete plans?

Chávez talked about social property and also economic forms that would be steps in that direction, including Indirect Communal Social Property Enterprises [EPSIC for its initials in Spanish]. Over the years, the Ministry of Communes has registered over 300 EPSICs. EPSICs are a hybrid between state and communal property.

We have begun to survey these EPSICs to learn about their current situation. We do all this to reactivate a transition model.

One such case is Arreboles de Barinas, a lumber mill that was recently reorganized and renamed “Renacer de Chávez” [Chávez Reborn]. When we visited it, we discovered that it was privately managed. This is actually illegal, but things like this do happen in times of crisis.

The idea is that those EPSICs should be provisionally co-managed by the state and the people, but eventually the community – organized in communal councils or communes – will take control of the administration of these enterprises.

When the crisis was most intense, the state had almost no capacity to manage such companies. A lumber mill requires raw materials and a variety of inputs, and when the country’s oil profits dropped from 50 billion US dollars a year to 700 million, the resources to keep the mill operative disappeared.

Our objective now is to reorganize the administration of the EPSICs, to bring them in line with the law. In so doing, the state and the organized communities will be direct participants in administering the enterprises. There, the enterprises’ income will be administered so that it is destined for wages, maintenance, and raw material purchases, but a social investment fund will also be established. This fund will be oriented towards communal development – or, as I said before, towards life.

Going back to the Renacer de Chávez lumber mill, the “surplus” will be distributed among the local communes so that they are able to solve infrastructure problems in the community. This is a virtuous cycle because, due to the exhaustion of the rentier model, the state has no resources. In such circumstances, companies like Renacer de Chávez can be the solution to the local problems.

We are also financing communal crops on a small scale and promoting “Economic Communal Circuits.” Our idea is that the production should enter a distribution circuit that ensures that the crops go to the people directly, without intermediaries. In the current cycle, we are focusing on supplying food to school canteens, popular kitchens [casas de alimentación], and communal markets.

In other words, we are aiming to promote the production of use values that will be distributed outside the capitalist market.

Nicolas Maduro: Let’s Not Expect Anything Except From Ourselves

President Nicolas Maduro with journalist Ignacio Ramonet

Source: TeleSUR

January 1 2022

What awaits Venezuela in 2022? President Maduro explains in an exclusive interview with renowned journalist Ignacio Ramonet.

In what has become a tradition journalist Ignacio Ramonet sat down with Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to touch on themes of importance to the nation

On Venezuela’s Covid situation

“Venezuela has had an exemplary control over the pandemic with the 7 plus 7 method, and when we started to make progress in vaccination and reached more than 40% of the vaccinated population, we restarted classes, we also allowed flexibility, this is how the country has been working… Venezuela has reached six cases per 100 thousand inhabitants… our vaccination goal is to reach 90%… the United States government has threatened all vaccine producers not to trade with us… by the end of the year, we have reached 89% vaccination rate.

On the last elections:

“They gave a sobering result, this election campaign was not easy. I said it several times to the campaign command. These elections are not easy because, well, the blockade has created problems of public services, problems in the daily life of the people, and part of the population does not understand that it is because of the sanctions. This has created dissatisfaction, discomfort in part of the population, and this is what US imperialism is looking for when it squeezes a country to crush it as it has done with Venezuela, it is looking for confusion, the protest of the people? the problem we have with public services such as water, the sabotage to the electrical system, there are problems that have remained… and they are real problems for the population… many of them are caused by the impossible access to spare parts, pieces, equipment, that any country in the world is renewing to maintain its public services… We have reached a moment in which we are persecuted worldwide… is this explained to the population? It is explained to them and a part of the people very heroic and stoic support the revolutionary process… but we won in spite of this, out of the 23 governorships the opposition won 3. In spite of these circumstances we won 80% of the governorships… This is victory number 27, we are for real…

And what is coming for the economy: 

“Venezuela has its own engines to face its economic needs…capable of replacing the old capitalist economy dependent on oil, the old rentier economy…the economic sanctions undoubtedly hit the economic life of the country terribly…the 440 coercive measures and sanctions were like an atomic bomb…we have been progressively implementing measures to free the productive forces in a scheme of war economy…from suffering we went to resistance and now to growth. …tax reforms…we made progress in reducing the fiscal deficit…a banking market was created…oil production and the production of the country’s refineries gradually recovered…the Venezuelan economy at this moment is in a clear period of recovery, I can tell you that we have recovered economic growth, in the second semester of the year 2021 the economic growth is 7.5%…Venezuela has already had 4 consecutive months with single-digit inflation…

On foreign policy:

Donald trump left but the empire remained, the empire is intact, Joe Biden arrived as a great promise of change, in relation to Venezuela everything has remained the same, the financial, monetary, oil, economic and commercial persecution, there has not been a single sign of rectification… Let us expect nothing except from ourselves… Who knows when and with whom the possibility of a direct dialogue will be opened, hopefully with the government of Joe Biden, and if it does not happen we will continue with our battle, this is our way…

Declaration of the XX ALBA-TCP Summit 

Source: Internationalist 360

Final Declaration of the XX ALBA-TCP Summit Highlights Efforts Towards Real Latin American and Caribbean Integration

We, the Heads of State and Government and the heads of delegations of the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), gathered in Havana, Cuba, on December 14, 2021, to commemorate the XVII anniversary of the Alliance. By signing this Declaration, we renew our commitment to strengthen this mechanism of political coordination, based on the principles of solidarity, social justice, cooperation and economic complementarity, fruit of the political will of its founders, Commanders Fidel Castro Ruz and Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.

We ratify that the cardinal principle that must guide ALBA-TCP is the broadest solidarity among the peoples of our America, based on the thinking of Bolivar, Marti, San Martin, Sucre, O’Higgins, Petión, Morazán, Sandino, Bishop, Garvey, Tupac Katari, Bartolina Sisa, Chatoyer and other heroes of Latin American and Caribbean independence, according to the joint declaration of Commanders Chávez and Fidel on December 14, 2004.

We ratify our commitment to a genuine Latin American and Caribbean integration, which will allow us to face together the pretensions of imperialist domination and hegemony and the growing threats to regional peace and stability.

We advocate for a transparent, democratic, fair and equitable international order, based on multilateralism, observance of the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and International Law; that guarantees international peace and security and respect for the right of peoples to self-determination, territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in internal affairs and sovereignty of States.

We recognize the laudable work of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as a non-permanent member of the Security Council during the last two years, raising the voice of the peoples of the Caribbean and representing the struggle for just causes within this important organ of the United Nations.

We reaffirm the full validity of the postulates of the “Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace”, signed by the Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), at its II Summit held in Havana, in January 2014.

We underscore the need to continue strengthening CELAC as a genuine mechanism for political coordination, cooperation and regional dialogue based on the principle of unity in diversity, in order to face the common challenges we face. We ratify the results of the VI Summit of the Community, held in Mexico City on September 18, 2021, while commending the work of the Mexican pro tempore presidency to revitalize CELAC and reiterate our commitment to support its management.

Read full Declaration here

Venezuelan Campesinos Receive Land Titles, Celebrate Historic Santa Inés Battle


December 11 2021

The Venezuelan government handed 69 land titles comprising 1,817 hectares to campesinos in Santa Inés, Barinas state.

Under the slogan “Free land, men and women!” campesinos received the land titles during a large popular assembly on Friday in the remote area. The event marked the 162 anniversary of the emblematic Battle of Santa Inés and 20 years since the approval of Hugo Chávez’ Land Law.

Grassroots movements especially celebrated a Supreme Court ruling in favor of 40 campesino families in the 4800 hectare Los Tramojos land stead in Guárico state after a protracted legal battle.

The Battle of Santa Inés took place on December 10, 1859, during Venezuela’s Federal War (1859-1863). Venezuelan hero Ezequiel Zamora and his mostly peasant army defeated the conservative government’s troops under the banner of “Free Men and Liberated Land.” While the XIX century countryside rebellion was frustrated, the Hugo Chávez government reclaimed the fight under the Bolivarian Revolution in 1999.

A number of government officials praised the Santa Inés people for upholding food production and promised more support. “We have set up a permanent technical table with the campesino sector to reinvigorate the agro-productive activities in the area,” announced Agriculture Minister Wilmar Castro Soteldo.

The president of the National Land Institute (INTI), David Hernández, likewise pledged to continue working with rural movements. “The best way to honor the Land Law is together with the people. In Santa Inés, we listen and advance alongside the campesino movement, more committed than ever to defend national production,” he wrote on Twitter.

Hernández added that the Nicolás Maduro government would continue democratizing the land, a process that began 20 years ago when former president Chávez launched the Land Law. The historic 2001 legislation laid conditions for campesinos to rescue over 60 percent of large idle estates and receive land titles, with small and midsize producers currently accounting for an estimated 70 percent of food production. The land redistribution process slowed down in recent years, with campesino organizations staging several high profile demonstrations to oppose policies favoring landowning interests.

Former Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza also attended the Santa Inés commemorative event, where he delivered the land titles and visited different areas. On Monday, the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) announced that the high-profile official would be the candidate for the re-run of the Barinas governor election on January 9, 2022.

“It is a privilege to hear criticism, to be interpellated and feel the love of these giants of resistance and dignity. With the people’s wisdom, we will find definitive solutions [to rural issues],” Arreaza wrote on social media.

Additionally, Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab opened an agrarian prosecutor’s office to address campesino struggles and demands. The announcement comes after rural populations have staged several rallies in recent months to denounce a “landowner offensive.” The Campesino Struggle Platform celebrated the decision, stating it is a step towards “justice in the countryside.”

Over 350 campesinos have been killed over the past 20 years, reportedly by hired assassins sent by powerful landowners. Campesino organizations have pointed the finger at the Cattle Ranchers Federation (FEDENAGA), a powerful guild pushing to reform the 2001 Land Law. However, the Maduro administration has promised to leave the legislation untouched.

In recent months, the country’s rural sector has emphasized that the majority of the targeted killings have gone unpunished, accusing local judicial authorities of working in complicity with powerful landowners to criminalize campesinos.

Venezuela’s rural communities have also been affected by fuel shortages that severely worsened in 2020 due to US sanctions. Campesino producers need diesel to power tractors and transport crops. The scarcity has led to fuel price hikes and reduced agricultural output.

Edited and with additional reporting by Ricardo Vaz from Caracas

Venezuela Pushes for Stronger ALBA Economy at XX Summit

High-level delegations from the ten ALBA nations participate in the organization’s XX Summit in Cuba on Tuesday. (@RadioRelojCuba / Twitter)

Source: (

December 12, 2021  –

The Venezuelan government has called on the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP) to draw up “commercial, financial and monetary plans” to strengthen post-pandemic economic development.

The proposal came during ALBA’s XX Summit in Havana, Cuba on Tuesday. The gathering likewise commemorated seventeen years since Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro founded the multilateral organization in 2004. It followed the XIX Summit held earlier this year in Caracas.

The latest summit was attended by the presidents of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia, respectively, as well as by high-level delegations from ALBA members Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Granada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia, which returned to the body this year after a left victory in its July elections. Delegations from non-members Haiti, Syria and Surinam were present as well.

The economy was top on the meeting’s agenda, with a number of representatives focusing on both the reactivation of their productive apparatus and debt relief after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I request that we make a new and stronger effort to articulate comprehensive plans for economic, commercial, financial, and monetary development between ALBA nations,” said Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro during the encounter. “We need to generate wealth in order to be able to distribute it,” he continued, encouraging “new investment to produce food, oil, gas, everything our peoples need.”

Equally, Bolivia’s president and economist Luis Arce, who brought 20 tons of humanitarian assistance to Havana, proposed creating two additional “gran-national” enterprises to produce food and medicine. Gran-national enterprises are mixed firms which operate under ALBA control across various countries. They are based on core values of solidarity and fair distribution instead of profit-making.

“It is time to push together, to sum up our forces. It is time to show solidarity, and Bolivia proposes and accepts the responsibility for drawing up a strategic plan to develop our economies,” Arce told those present, while also calling for the jumpstarting of ALBA financial arms such as the ALBA Bank and Sucre currency.

The summit’s final statement echoed the calls, as well as establishing “a more complete mechanism to alleviate foreign debt for developing countries, as well as the writing-off or refinancing of debt (and) the democratic transformation of international financial organizations.”

Similarly, the summit pledged to reactivate the ALBA Economic Zone project, as well as regional fisheries, agriculture and PetroCaribe projects.

PetroCaribe distributed crude and fuel to Caribbean nations under long-term and low-interest payment agreements. The project was halted in 2018 as US sanctions severely hit Venezuela’s struggling oil sector. On Tuesday, the Venezuelan president stated that the flagship initiative will “return stronger-than-ever sooner rather than later.” Maduro had previously promised the project would be relaunched in the first half of 2020.

Counter-Intervention Observatory established

The ALBA Summit went on to take aim at US intervention in the region, blasting the “genocidal” blockade against Cuba and the “massive, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights” through unilateral coercive measures against a number of the alliance’s members.

“Not even a thousand sanctions will defeat the dignity of the Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Cuban people,” said Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel at the meeting.

From Cuba, ALBA Executive Secretary Sacha Llorenti unveiled a Counter-Intervention Observatory which will reportedly look to “periodically analyze the role of non-governmental organizations and funding in destabilizing efforts,” as well as study how the “neoliberal coercive measures” are being levied against member nations.

The observatory comes as a response to Washington’s Summit for Democracy last week, which unveiled over US $424 million of funding for the region. According to US President Joe Biden, the resources will be channeled into media projects, “defending free and fair elections and political processes,” fighting corruption, “bolstering democratic reformers” and “advancing technology for democracy.” Most ALBA nations were not invited to Washington’s virtual gathering, and Managua, Havana, La Paz and Caracas have all accused Washington of funding destabilization efforts in their countries of late.

ALBA fights the Covid-19 pandemic

The fight against the coronavirus pandemic was also high on the agenda in Havana, with member nations congratulating the island on developing its three vaccines, as well as recognizing the efforts of the ALBA Bank in creating a vaccine bank and Venezuela’s CONVIASA airline for setting up air-bridges between member states. Likewise, the summit saluted the region’s healthcare workers for their frontline work.

For his part, recently re-elected Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega used the opportunity to blast “US imperialism,” claiming that in addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, “savage capitalism and imperialism is the worst pandemic the world has suffered.”

Other issues discussed included backing the Caribbean’s historic claims to compensation for the “genocide” and “horrors” of the slave trade; pushing for “more ambitious” commitments on climate change after a “disappointing” COP26 Summit in Glasgow; and congratulating recent leftwing electoral victories in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Venezuela and Honduras.

Nicaragua Could Triple Its Exports to China in the Medium Term

Source: TeleSUR

The new ties with China enable the Central American nation new prospects for trade and foreign direct investment. | Photo: Twitter/@KawsachunNews

Nicaragua could triple its exportable volume of traditional products to China in the next ten years if a large-scale investment project is established, said the president of the Nicaraguan Council of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Conimipyme), Leonardo Torres.

“We have enough land, we have no land limit and we have no water limit, which is key for productivity. What Nicaragua needs are irrigation systems to be able to increase its productive cycle. Nicaragua bases its productive cycle in winter and summer, but we do not have massive irrigation systems and China has those massive irrigation systems, which means a great opportunity for Nicaragua,” Torres explained.

After his arrival from the People’s Republic of China on Sunday December 12, the Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Ivan Acosta, said that the restoration of relations between the governments of Beijing and Managua opens “space for greater investment” and an expansion of the market for Nicaraguan exports, estimated at more than 3.5 billion dollars in 2021.

RELATED: China and Nicaragua Reestablish Diplomatic Relations

“The aspiration is to double that amount in the next 10 years and this is only possible with a large market that demands our product and we can establish all the necessary mechanisms to attract more investments, higher quality investments that energize our country’s exports to the world and to the People’s Republic of China,” Acosta said.

The opportunity for the economic development of the Central American nation could reach US$20 billion in the next decade if one considers Chinese investment in Nicaragua with planting and harvesting technology and communication technology in the existing free trade zone, where annual exports are around US$3 billion.

“Nicaragua could easily become an assembler of communication technology, cell phones, home appliances, we can perfectly assemble televisions, sound equipment and Chinese investment could come to settle in technological free trade zones, there is a great opportunity for us,” he said.

The expectations with the new context of international trade development relations of Nicaragua “excite” the businessmen of this country, because according to the head of Conimipyme, it would allow them a sustained growth of up to 9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Here you have another potential for these zones, say $2 billion more in free trade zones tripled for the next 10 years, we would be talking about an exportable development with a jump of the Gross Domestic Product of Nicaragua to 8 to 9% and we would no longer be talking about 4%, for that you have to have the infrastructure of Nicaragua to work on this,” detailed Torres.

The businessman considered that the Government of Nicaragua should rethink the National Plan for the Fight against Poverty and Human Development 2022-2027 to redirect the approaches and development goals for the next five years.

The Nicaraguan government on December 9 recognized China as a single territory and broke off relations with Taiwan, which had been in place since 1990.

The new ties with China enable the Central American nation new prospects for trade and foreign direct investment advanced in conservations between the Government of Nicaragua, the China International Development Cooperation Agency and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and Investment.

Luis Arce Completes One Year at the Helm of Bolivia’s Government

Source: TeleSUR

November 8 2021

Bolivian President Luis Arce said, “We feel strengthened by the expressions of affection and the
 support we received from social organizations during the celebration of our first year in office”
| Photo: Twitter/@LuchoXBolivia

On November 8, 2020, Luis Arce took power before the Legislative Assembly with 55.11 percent of the votes.

Bolivian President, Luis Arce, offered a speech to the nation, within the framework of the inauguration of the first ordinary session of the Legislative Assembly (Parliament) for 2021-2022 and on the first anniversary of his assumption to the Bolivian Presidency.

Before the President’s speech, the Vice President, David Choquehuanca, referred to the popular demand for justice for the deaths and human rights violations and cases of racism during the de facto government of Jeanine Añez.

RELATED: Colombians Involved in Attempted Assassination of Luis Arce

In this regard, he indicated that what happened in 2020 compared to 2021 reflects irreversible change and stressed the need to use democratic means and the rule of law to banish fascism and other forms of extreme violence.

“2020 has warned us and taught us that political chaos, deaths, racism, abuse, corruption, injustices, violation of human rights is not the path of our plurinational system. It is the obligation of all of us to identify those responsible so that these events never happen again,” he said.

In this sense, he referred to the importance of justice to respect due process but identifying those responsible so that the facts do not go unpunished.

“A country without justice is a nation submerged in disorder and chaos; justice has to seek the truth, the people need to know the truth, the people demand justice,” he said.

Luis Arce, on his part, presented before the Legislature the results of his first 12 months in office. Concerning his administration, he said that 54.4 percent of the Bolivian population over 18 years of age is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, thanks to the application of 7.9 million doses of the more than 15.4 million free antigens distributed.

At the same time, he noted that in the third wave of the pandemic, immunization was massive, reaching 64 percent of first doses and 54 percent in second doses, in addition to implementing active epidemiological surveillance.

The Bolivian head of state recalled that when he took office in November 2020, the country had a deep health crisis due to the coronavirus.

“In the year of our democratically elected government, 7.9 million doses were administered, including first, second, third and single doses. As of November 2021, 54.4% of the population over 18 years of age has the complete vaccination schedule against COVID19.”

“In Bolivia, COVID-19 arrived in March 2020, bringing pain, mourning and impotence in the face of a clear inability to manage the health crisis of the de facto government, the lack of medical supplies, medicines, oxygen, massive PCR tests, trained personnel resulted in shocking figures of lethality, in a scenario that, despite having adopted rigid and flexible quarantines, did not foresee hope for the Bolivian people,” he commented.

To face this situation, the President said that three lines of action were implemented, including free mass testing, free vaccination, and strengthening the health system at the state level.

“With these actions, we went from a lethality rate of 6.2 percent in the first wave to a lethality that did not exceed 2.7 percent in the second and third waves. At the beginning of this fourth wave, the lowest levels of the entire pandemic were recorded at 0.96 percent in November 2021,” he said.

Arce continued his speech, outlining the work of the Government to favor pregnant women with the Juana Azurduy Bonus. He added that through the Unified Health System and the National Intercultural Community Family Health Policy, the number of births attended by qualified personnel increased.

He also referred to the reestablishment of sports institutions taken over after the de facto Government, through the reopening of centers, incentives for sports practice and economic support.

He also highlighted the opening of the school year in February 2021, with 38.5 percent of educational institutions in face-to-face mode, increasing to 58.7 percent in October. “If to that modality we add the semi-presential classes, we would have a total of 84.1 percent of the total of the country’s educational units under these two modalities, which means a substantive improvement of the educational process in our country in times of pandemic,” he evidenced.

Luis Arce also referred to the economic reconstruction measures to seek gradual growth. “The measures implemented responded favorably, achieving positive results for our economy, reducing the depth of the crisis that in the second and third quarter of 2020 hit bottom, with accumulated falls of -12.9 percent and -12.6 percent, respectively,” he said.

The head of the Bolivian Government was sworn in on Sunday, November 8, 2020, at the Plurinational Legislative Assembly and with national support of 55.11 percent at the polls. From his entry into the Presidency, he implemented measures to counteract the political, economic, educational and health crises in search of the reconstruction of Bolivia and its stability after the coup d’état of 2019

Venezuela: Chavismo Wins Governorships in 20 of 23 States

A man casts his vote, Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 21, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @ALBATCP

“It is a victory for the humble people, the noble people of Venezuela, who have endured a brutal war,” President Nicolas Maduro stressed.

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) President Pedro Calzadilla reported a 41.80 percent turnout in Sunday’s Subnational elections.

RELATED: ‘We Do Not Renounce the Transition to Socialism’, Maduro Says

Having counted 90.21 percent of the ballots cast in the elections, Calzadilla reaffirmed that the elections took place in a peaceful environment. 

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidates hold leads in 20 out of 23 states for the governor’s race.

Meanwhile, the opposition coalition United Democratic Table (MUD) candidates secured a lead in the Cojedes and Zulia states. Neighbors Force (FV) party secured the other governor post for opposition sectors in the Nueva Esparta State.

“Nothing disturbed the electoral process … International observers move freely throughout the country to verify the electoral process… It is a victory for the humble people, the noble people of Venezuela, who have endured a brutal war,” President Nicolas Maduro stressed.

Over 21,000,000 Venezuelans were called to cast the ballots to elect 23 governors, 335 mayors, 253 lawmakers, and 2,471 councilors.

The CNE delivered credentials to over 300 international observers from 55 countries and institutions such as the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the Carter Center.

Nearly 70,000 candidates from all political forces in the South American nation contested the elections. They represented 37 national political parties and 43 regional organizations

Nicaraguans Celebrate FSLN Victory In Sunday Elections

Source:  TeleSUR

8 November 2021

Citizens celebrate the FSLN triumph at the Victoria Square, Managua, Nicaragua, Nov. 7, 2021.
| Photo: Twitter/ @revolucionJ1979

The Sandinista revolution has made Nicaragua the safest country in Central America and reduced its illiteracy rates to 13 percent, citizens recalled.

On Monday, thousands of Nicaraguan citizens gathered in Victories Square in Managua to celebrate that the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) preliminary report on the Nov. 7 general elections results showed that the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) obtained 74,99 percent of the valid votes in this process.

RELATED: Nicaraguan Elections Compliant With Laws, Russia Acknowledges

“We celebrate the victory of the FSLN candidates, including our President Daniel Ortega, with the conviction that they will continue to adopt policies in favor of the progress, work, peace, and prosperity of our people,” citizen Vilma Mendoza stated.

None of the Nicaraguan opposition’ candidates had over 15 percent of the remaining valid votes, which were distributed as follows: Constitutional Liberal Party candidate Walter Espinoza (14.4 percent), Liberal Alliance Party candidate Marcelo Montiel (3.4 percent), Christian Road Party Guillermo Osorno (3.4 percent), Alliance for the Republic Gerson Gutierrez (2.2 percent), and Independent Liberal Party candidate Mauricio Orue (1.7 percent).

Mendoza stressed that these figures show massive support for the Sandinista revolution, which has made Nicaragua the safest country in Central America and reduced its illiteracy rates from 50 percent to 13 percent.

The CSE registered a participation rate of 65.34 percent in these elections. Some 232 electoral assistants from 27 countries also reported that the voting process proceeded smoothly and without incident.

Despite this, the United States rejected the validity of the Nicaraguan elections and announced that it would seek the supposed “reestablishment” of democracy in this Central American country. “Only the Nicaraguan people have the right to decide on the legitimacy of their country’s electoral processes,” Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov said and urged other countries to respect the results of the general elections.