| Ángel Prado will take over from Guy Vernáez as Minister of Communes Presidential Press | MR Online Ángel Prado will take over from Guy Vernáez as Minister of Communes. (Photo: Presidential Press)

Maduro appoints El Maizal’s Ángel Prado Minister of Communes

Originally published: Venezuelanalysis.com on June 8, 2024 (more by Venezuelanalysis.com)  |

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has named communard Ángel Prado as the new minister of communes and social movements.

Prado, current mayor of Simón Planas and spokesperson from El Maizal Commune, is one of the most respected figures in Venezuela’s popular movements.

“I need a leader that comes from the grassroots, from a successful project like El Maizal, to be in charge of the battalion tasked with building communes and communal councils,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast on Thursday. He also approved the recent reform of the Organic Law of Popular Power promoted by the National Assembly during the event.

The Venezuelan president vowed that his government would “change everything that needs changing” so that communal projects can move forward and receive the proper state support.

For his part, Prado thanked Maduro and said he would assume the new responsibility “with great commitment.”

In a subsequent interview, the communard announced a “national meeting” of communes and popular movements to strengthen grassroots organization in the Caribbean nation.

“We may have become a bit disarticulated in recent times, but now is the time to join forces,” Prado stated.

There are plenty of challenges ahead, chief among them winning the upcoming presidential election on July 28.

Popular power organizations widely welcomed Prado’s appointment. The Panal 2021 Commune in Caracas wished the new minister success and expressed hope that “the accumulated experience” would be put to good use. The Che Guevara Commune in Mérida state praised Prado’s “audacity” and “political clarity” as key to tackling the challenges ahead.

Founded in 2009, El Maizal is one of Venezuela’s most renowned communes. It brings together 22 communal councils split between Lara and Portuguesa states, with an estimated 4,500 families in its territory.

Over its history, El Maizal Commune has developed productive processes, mostly related to corn growing and cattle rearing. It likewise drew attention during Venezuela’s economic crisis by taking over idle land or means of production, regardless of whether they were private or state-owned, in order to reactivate them as social production enterprises managed by the commune.

Prado first challenged local bureaucratic structures by running for mayor of the Simón Planas township in 2017 on the Homeland for All (PPT) ticket. Despite garnering the most votes, electoral authorities controversially awarded the post to Socialist Party (PSUV) candidate Jean Ortiz. Four years later, Prado instead ran in the PSUV primaries and eventually won the Simón Planas mayoralty.

Former President Hugo Chávez described communes as “unit cells” for the construction of socialism. They are conceived as democratic, territorial, assembly-driven self-government projects that should gradually take over means of production and public services.

Communes also have a long-term horizon of building ties to create larger structures with new social relations. El Maizal has been one of the main promoters of the Communard Union, one such initiative.

At the Ministry of Communes, Prado replaces Guy Vernáez after a short tenure, having replaced Jorge Arreaza in February. Vernáez remains in charge of the Federal Government Council (CFG), an entity charged with funding popular power initiatives.

Vernáez’s most important endeavor was organizing the April 21 National Popular Consultation that saw 4,500 organized communities choose local projects to be funded by the Venezuelan state. Grassroots assemblies picked proposals that ranged from infrastructure repairs to boosting means of production.

The Maduro government will provide a reported US$10,000 per project and hailed the initiative as a success. Communes will be responsible for executing projects and rendering accounts. Authorities are reportedly evaluating holding similar consultations on a regular basis.

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