Comuna Under Construction| 1hr : 34mins
Director: Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler | Producer: Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler
Focus Years: 2010 | Country: Austria
â€œWe have to decide for ourselves what we want. We are the ones who know about our needs and what is happening in our community,â€ Omayra PerÃ©z explains confidently. She wants to convince her community, located on the hillside of a poor district of Caracas, to found a Consejo Comunal (community council). In more than 30.000 Consejos Comunales the Venezuelan inhabitants decide on their concerns collectively via assemblies. Omayra is supported by the activists of the nearby shantytown â€œEmiliano HernÃ¡ndezâ€, which has already had a Consejo Comunal for three years. Under the governmental program â€œBarrio Adentroâ€ the inhabitants there managed to get a doctor who treats everyone free of charge. They also got money to renovate their houses and replaced over a dozen of corrugated-iron huts by new houses. All of these activities and a lot more have been organized via the Consejo Comunal. By local self-organization several working groups have been established on self-selected topics and decisions are made in assemblies.
Several Consejos Comunales can form a Comuna and finally a communal town. The film â€œComuna Under Constructionâ€ follows these developments throughout the hillside of the shantytowns of Caracas and the vast and wet plains of Barinas in the countryside. The councils are built from below and alongside the existing institutions and are supposed to overcome the existing state through self-government. In a constituent assembly for the construction of the communal town â€œAntonio JosÃ© de Sucreâ€, Ramon Virigay of the independent peasantâ€™s organization Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ) reminds the delegates of the participating Consejos Comunales.
Is it even possible to bring together state and autonomy at all? Relations between the grass roots and the institutions are marked by cooperation as well as conflict. But the Consejos Comunales also have internal difficulties; participation has to be learned. Both progress and setback mark the difficult process of people actually taking the power of deciding on their own lives and environment by themselves.
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