Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez’s former right hand man and current president of Venezuela, called on his administration Thursday to offer more help on constructing socialist settlements in the country. The president, addressing the nation on his TV show, “Bolivarian Dialogue,” emphasized that the communes are a priority and require support in order to expand. Moreover, he added, the current communes should be seen as examples to inspire the building of new ones.

Ewan Robertson at expounds on the characteristics of the project:

Communes in Venezuela have their origin in communal councils, which are grassroots bodies composed of members of the local community. These bodies are self-managing and receive public funds to undertake community projects and small-scale public works.

Communes, meanwhile, are made up of groups of community councils, and are able to take on larger scale projects and further develop mechanisms of local self-governance. While there are currently over 44,000 registered communal councils, there are only around 200 established or developing communes in the country.

To raise the communes’ exposure and highlight their importance, Maduro also proposes the establishment of a Communications Vice Ministry of Communes and People’s Power as well as a national television channel called Commune TV. Chavez had reportedly been irritated by his government’s neglect of the settlements, asking Maduro, “Where are the communes?” With last week’s directives, Maduro seems to be answering loud and clear: The communes are a vital part of Venezuela and it’s time for the whole world to see them.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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