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3945 - Communal councils, Communes and Communal Cities: Non-representative self-administration in Venezuela

In more than 40.000 Communal Councils (CC) the inhabitants of Venezuelan decide on their concerns collectively via assemblies. The CC are a mechanism of self-administration at a local level. They began forming in 2005 from below, a law followed in April 2006. The CC in urban areas encompass some 150-400 families and in rural zones, at least 20. Its decision-making body is the Assembly of Neighbours. The CC are financed directly by the State and its institutions, thus avoiding major interference from the municipalities. The councils are built from below, alongside the existing institutions and tend to transcend the division between political and civil society. This parallel structure should gradually draw power and control away from the State in order to govern on its own. At a higher level Communes can be created, which are formed from various CC in a given territory and can develop medium- and long-term projects of greater impact while decisions continue to be made in assemblies. And if certain territories are organized in CC and Communes they can constitute themselves as Communal Cities. Distinguishing between politico-administrative territory and socio-cultural-economic space, Communes reflect the latter; their boundaries do not necessarily correspond to formal politico-administrative spaces. The mechanism of their construction is flexible. But the relationship between the State and its institutions and the new institutionality is marked by cooperation and conflict. The inherent tendency of institutions to preserve and reproduce themselves and the contradictions between institutional and social logic, combined with the asymmetry of power between constituent and constituted power, makes the construction of the new institutionality an unsure and contradictory process.

The presentation will deal with the development of the CC, Communes and Communal Cities and analyze to what extend they are structures of self government.

Palabras claves: participación, consejos, Venezuela, autogobierno, Comunas

Autores: Azzellini, Dario (JKU Linz, Austria / Österreich)

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