Caracas, 27 August 2006
It is my great pleasure, on behalf of the Centro Internacional Miranda (CIM, Miranda International Centre), to contact you to tell you that the Centro Internacional Miranda now exists. As a sympathizer with and an activist in the Bolivarian cause, we value your cooperation highly and we hope that your intellectual work will be able to find in our Foundation a space for collaboration, the kind of collaboration which reinforces the already existing world network of critical thought, a network which has already had some success in counteracting neo-liberal hegemony.
CIM came into being on 8 August 2005. The motive force behind this move was the need to create a physical, institutional space to coordinate international support for the Bolivarian process, thus allowing thinkers and activists from all over the world who are committed to emancipation to help the Bolivarian Republic on many levels. A number of very committed people have been involved in the various stages this powerful idea has traversed. By dint of their huge effort, they have managed to get CIM up and running. As of 21 March of this year, I have assumed the responsibility of being CIM’s president — I was part of the team that initially took on the task of breathing life into this project.
From then until now, we at CIM have set ourselves the task of helping to bring about something which is of great importance to us: that is, spreading the news, to as many different places as is possible, about a process as unprecedented as the Bolivarian process whose constitution enshrines both participation by the people and their protagonism. We also want to bring together those engaged in international emancipatory thinking so we can all collaborate in building authentic relations based on multi-polarity, something much needed given the hegemony of the North.
Similarly, we want to offer a space where international support for this process can be coordinated, a space which permits thinkers and activists committed to emancipation to help the Bolivarian Republic in various ways (reflection, cadre training, writing top quality reports, etc.)
All of the above, combined with a serious study of the educational processes already underway, are the most important building blocks for constructing just, peace-loving societies which are committed to the welfare of their populations.
CIM’s principal objectives are:
“To promote and make known the political system of participative, protagonistic democracy which is envisaged in the Venezuelan constitution, by creating spaces for debate among intellectuals about certain central themes which will make it possible to improve the aforementioned model and for the people to fully develop themselves”.
So that we may do this, we have decided that our most important goal is to make CIM a space for coordinating, channelling and promoting collective reflection, both Venezuelan and international, about the various themes and questions that are vital for the short, medium and long-term development of the unprecedented Bolivarian revolutionary process; our aim is to nourish it with all kinds of ideas and experiences. Therefore, we at CIM have set ourselves the following specific goals:
To promote, centralise and empower the work of international advisors and the care and attention given to foreign collaborators, by helping them to coordinate with national networks which are reflecting on emancipatory processes. To encourage the creation of a network of foreign experts who are interested in the process Venezuela is going through. Marta Harnecker from Chile and Michael Lebowitz, from Canada have been working with us from the very beginning. Today we also have two Spaniards, Victor Rios and Juan Carlos Monedero working with us. We have already contacted other researchers to see if it might be possible to have them join CIM for short periods of research or cooperation.
To turn CIM into a place where foreign and Venezuelan thinkers can meet and reflect. To have it become the most important body coordinating and promoting physical and institutional spaces where intellectuals, both inside and outside the Bolivarian Republic, can come together to discuss matters relevant to the development of the Bolivarian constitutional model. Similarly, to become a centre that promotes various forms of collaboration with academic centres, popular organisations and institutions, both Venezuelan and foreign.
As a research centre, it should it should be deeply involved in the promotion, examination and analysis of government public policy and of the advances in participative and protagonistic democracy proposed in the Venezuelan constitutional model. Moreover, it should do all of this as per the needs of the country and in order to make known far and wide the contributions the Bolivarian process is making to transforming the world.
To contribute to the training, education and development of social, economic and political cadres who believe completely in the main ideals of the transforming process enshrined in the constitution. These cadres will then join those who lead and direct social and political projects.
To create a publishing policy which seeks to document and promote Venezuelan and foreign experiences, to publish works that fall into the tradition of revolutionary thinking and to publish the research of intellectuals on subjects vital to the debate on and analysis of twenty first century socialism and the replacement of capitalism. We want to promote and encourage many kinds of books, to distribute works in progress, documents, books, pamphlets, videos, etc.
In order to accomplish these tasks, CIM has developed nine main programmes. I will just list them now, they are dealt with in more detail in the attachment. There is a programme concerned with Twenty First Century Socialism; one on Participation by the People in Public Administration; one of the New Productive Model; one on A Practice that Transforms and Human Development; a programme which researches the Regional Integration Agreements and Multilateral Agreements; A programme which reflects on the role of the media called Towards a Science of Media Criticism; a programme on Critical Pedagogy and Bolivarian Education Management, an international exchange programme and a training programme.
There is no need to tell you how important your opinion about these programmes is to us, as is any suggestions you may have of names of people we can contact, people you think may be interested in this letter. This is more important than ever now when it is so obvious that emancipation cannot be restricted to one country.
Luis Bonilla Molina
President of the Centro Internacional Miranda
Summary of CIM’s Programmes
1) International Exchange Programme, the aim of which is to coordinate a network of critical researchers who will make Venezuela one of the nodes of this network, the idea being to foster exchanges with important researchers and social activists all over the world. To do this, we have envisaged having people come and stay for up to three months to do research at CIM. During these visits, researchers will be able to give seminars and do further research into subjects relevant to the Bolivarian Revolution. Thus CIM will be helping to develop the premises of an alternative kind of integration as set forth in ALBA.
2) Critical Pedagogy and Bolivarian Educational Management. This looks at the way the educational philosophy of the education system and the missions put in practice by the Bolivarian process area working. It also studies the most advanced educational theory from all over the world thus making it possible to reinforce and justify the importance the constitution places on education.
3) Training Programme. The purpose of this programme is to help to give cadres the critical ability to handle such things as the basic concepts of economics, politics, sociology, education, history and law; to give them a thorough understanding of the Bolivarian Revolutionary process, the tools for top level public administration in a society heading towards socialism; knowledge about the way socialism developed in the twentieth century and the perspective for twenty first century socialism; the ability to design, implement and evaluate public policies. This programme also hopes to study, evaluate and complement the various Government and Citizenship Schools that exist in the world, especially those in Latin America.
4) Twenty First Century Socialism. This programme’s aim is to encourage reflection, discussion and further study by looking at a new kind of socialism for which there are no models, paradigms or valid canons. This programme has also taken on the task of evaluating all the great socialist experiments of the past and the successful practices that are building “partial socialisms” all across the planet and which, generally, are ignored by both the media and academe.
5) Participation by the people in Public Administration. This programme is studying the subject of participation by the people, one of the main axes of the new model for the society Venezuela wants to build. It hopes set the stage for foreign advisers to come and bring their technical knowledge and experience to support those mayors and governors who ask for help in areas such as: the participatory budget, decentralisation, social auditing, community banks, etc. It also proposes to: cooperate with experts from other countries in following up on the innovative forms of participation that are being put into practice in this country, especially the never-before-seen experience of the communal councils; to help to train Venezuelan cadres for participation by inviting international experts to give courses and workshops in various areas related to participation; to inform people abroad about Venezuelan experiences in participation.
6) Programme concerning the New Model of Production. This programme enters the debate about the kind of economy that can replace capitalism, by a focus that engages with the logic of an economy based on human beings and the environment. In order to do this, an analysis must be made of the concrete way capitalism functions, especially in Latin America as well as an analysis of the alternatives that are creating important referents in the field of endogenous development. This programme will study emerging subjects such as social production companies, the different paths followed by the people’s economy and the social economy: cooperativism, social management of oil income, the environmental paradigms of various modes of production, the balance and the challenges of experiments in co-management, self-management and worker control, the approaches to production chains, fair trade and complementarity as a lever to bring about integration.
7) Programme on the Practice that Transforms and Human Development. At the heart of the Bolivarian Revolution lies the notion that people develop their skills and abilities through their activity, that concept which Marx put forward as the essence of revolutionary practice, the simultaneous transformation of circumstances and oneself, or self-transformation. The aim of the research work that CIM will undertake is to begin to develop both the concepts and the measuring tools that will allow us to evaluate the progress the Bolivarian Revolution has made towards reaching the goals set forth in the constitution.
8) The Programme studying the Regional Integration Agreements and Multilateral Agreements. This analyses the possibilities of finding an alternative form of globalisation and analyses the counterhegemonic path proposed by the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples. In a globalised world, we must have a critical analysis of international agreements and institutions (WTO; FTAs, FTAA, IMF, WB) whose role is to maintain the strong differences we see on the international scene and this critical analysis must go hand in hand with alternative proposals which, from a social, ecological and human point of view, seek to replace the capitalist model.
9) The Programme for reflecting on the Role of the Media: Towards a Science of Media Criticism. The latter will, taking account of the role of third power the big media companies play, study the way the media manipulate and will lay the foundations for a network of media that present an alternative to the big media companies.
Luis Bonilla-Molina is President of the Centro Internacional Miranda, a foundation created by Decreto Nº 3.818. Visit Bonilla-Molina’s blog: <luisbonilla-molina.blogspot.com/>.