Video Series “In Commune”
Chapter Four: The Che Guevara Commune (Part 1)
In this chapter of In Commune, Venezuelanalysis visits the rural Che Guevara Commune, located in the Caracciolo Parra Municipality, between the frigid mountaintops of Mérida State and the steamy hot climates south of Lake Maracaibo.
This commune began to take shape ten years ago with the influence of the Ezequiel Zamora Campesino Front, now known as the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current, but today the commune has taken on a much broader identity with the participation of diverse historical and developing popular organizations from the territory.
The economic and productive system of the Che Guevara Commune has only started to take shape in the last two to three years, but it has quickly become a national reference based on the production of two major local crops, coffee and cocoa.
Located in the higher altitudes of the communal territory is another cooperative. This initiative, which is dedicated to coffee production and processing, likewise predates the Che Guevara Commune. The Colinas del Mirador Cooperative (COLIMIR) was founded in 2004 during the early boom of governmental promotion of cooperatives through the national training and financing program, Vuelvan Caras. However, when receiving government financing proved impossible, the cooperative quickly withered. A few newer associates later saw the cooperative as a space for solidarity and mutual benefit and dedicated themselves to it’s revival. They began by collaborating in the members’ coffee fields on a weekly rotating basis and organizing popular education programs. Years later, between the profits of their production and recently received government support, the cooperative has achieved a full production cycle with greenhouses for seedling production, land for coffee planting and harvesting, industrialized processing and transport.
Each of these productive units has seen the potential of moving beyond their own production and becoming part of the communal economic system. For the last two years, COLIMIR, The Che Guevara 2021 chocolate company and the Equidad Cooperative have been building a political and economic relationship which has allowed them to strengthen their productive processes, promote policies and projects with the government as well as support the development and well-being of their community.
Because of the altitudes and rough terrains of the territory, the Che Guevara Commune has historically had little to no meat production. Something that had not been an issue when gasoline, transportation and soaring prices were not as problematic as in the current context under US unilateral sanctions. The productive units of the Che Guevara Commune are now promoting a new culture of protein-based production with a program to provide youths and families with goats, sheep, pigs and fish ponds for reproduction and consumption, alongside permanent training and technical assistance.
Although formed in very different circumstances of the Bolivarian Revolution and their own communal territory, each of these productive units has been carefully developed to tend to the local needs, taking into account the full cycle of production, transcending issues of price speculation and scarcity of materials which often plague small scale productive units.
In the second half of this chapter of “In Commune,” we will explore how this economic and productive system has directly improved the quality of life and organization of the Che Guevara Commune.
Featured image: Workers of the Social Production Company Che Guevara 2021 of the Che Guevara Commune, in the Mérida state.
(Venezuelanalysis.com) by Katrina Kozarek