Venezuelan Communal Councils
In April 2006 the Venezuelan government passed The Law of Communal Councils (consejos comunales) which empowers local citizens to form neighbourhood-based elected councils that initiate and oversee local policies and projects towards community development. Communal councils convene and coordinate existing community organizations as well as promote the creation of new work committees, cooperatives and projects as needed in defence of collective interests and the integral development of the community.
The jurisdiction of each council is limited to a self-defined geography housing under 400 families, but unlimited in scope of activities within the community. All key council decisions are made via discussion and majority vote within a citizens' assembly with at least 30% of the adult community present. Councils are highly autonomous although they are often required to coordinate with municipal administrations and receive funds from various levels of government.
Communal councils are new models in a chain of experiments and parallel efforts towards participatory democracy and a new form of socialism under the banner of the Bolivarian Revolution led by popularly elected Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Over 19,500 councils have already been registered throughout the country and billions of dollars have been distributed to support their efforts.
The law of Communal Councils was reaffirmed and updated in November 2009.
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