Supporting social and ecological alternatives in Venezuela

The situation in Venezuela is very difficult. Since 2014, crises have been piling up: widespread corruption, falling oil prices, abandonment of public services, etc. The problem is not only that there is inflation or a dollarization of the economy, it is above all that wages are not indexed to prices; bonuses have replaced the defense of wages and employees. It takes 20 minimum wages to reach the level of the household basket. This means that the monthly minimum wage only covers 5% of basic needs, as reported by the Center for Documentation and Social Analysis of the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers (Cendas-FVM). Rather than doing politics based on the needs of people, the government is aligning itself with the politics of the market. Everything is done to attract foreign capital and to maintain an extractivist logic despite the disastrous consequences for biodiversity. After the creation of Special Economic Zones in 2014, which offers considerable advantages for investors, the government gives additional advantages to foreign and national investors who will be able to act confidentially outside legal and constitutional norms. According to Provea, a Venezuelan human rights NGO, the 2020 law called the «the anti-blockade law» contradicts the Constitution and «reinforces the authoritarian character of the government». «This law is practically to privatize the assets of the Republic under cover of little transparency and a lot of discretion.»

From austerity shift to democratic abandonment

Since 2014, there is no official information disclosed by the state. To have a quantified report on poverty and extreme poverty it is necessary to look at the national survey on living conditions (ENCOVI), set up and directed by the Catholic University Andrés Bello, the Simón Bolívar University, the Central University of Venezuela and the Bengoa Foundation.

No information either on biodiversity and the damage suffered on the territory.

Although there is a large number of claims from the Venezuelan oil industry, since 2016 there is no official publication that reports the figures and explains the amount of the exact number of oil spills that have occurred in the country. Due to the lack of data from PDVSA, the Observatory of Political Ecology (OEP) has made a balance sheet of the oil spills that have occurred in Venezuela during the year 2021, based on the systematization of information including spills reported by biologist Eduardo Klein and other oil industry accident reports. According to the Observatory, there have been 73 oil spills, an average of about 7 spills per month. September being the month with the highest number of incidents (12). The state of Falcón, Zulia and Anzoátegui are the entities that have reported the most accidents. There were also 8 explosions/fires recorded in 2021.

Acting for biodiversity and a sustainable way of life

Faced with the abandonment of the State, the criminalization and repression of social movements, some cultivate alternatives of life and struggle to create another possible future by setting up community projects. They flourish on the ruins of a breathless extractivist economic model that destroys nature but provides no guarantee for the population to live decently.

Many projects put at the center of the reflection and in practice many subjects abandoned by the State: food autonomy, agroecology, soft and renewable energy, mutual aid, sharing, Human Rights , etc.

Coordination for an ecological and social alternative.

From July 8 to July 10, 2022, 12 communities and social organizations from several regions of Venezuela gathered in the city of Barquisimeto, for the second meeting about Community Strengthening Processes for the Management of Alternative Energies, organized by the Observatory of Political Ecology (OEP). The meeting was held at the Cecosesola school; one of the largest cooperatives in Venezuela located in Barquisimeto. This meeting was made with the participation of the Yaracuy Cuencas school, the Padre Juan Bautista Briceño commune of Carora (Lara), the Voces Ciudadanas collective of Zulia, the Uniting Wills movement of the San Blas neighborhood in Petare (Miranda), the Cooperative Coromoto Torrellas de Carora (Lara), the National Network of Community Members, the collective Conuco Escuela Agroecológica Humocaro Alto (Lara), the ecotourism experience of Todosana Orgánica (La Guaira), La Libertaria in the peasant village of Hato Arriba (Parish of Morán, Lara), Comandante Adrián Moncada Agroecology and Ecotourism Municipality of Barquisimeto (Lara), Cecosesola Cooperatives, in collaboration with OEP.

La libertaria: a social and agro-ecological project for emancipation that we would like to support

La Libertaria was present in this very constructive space. La Libertaria is aiming towards converting its space to solar energy, and to increase the cultivation of cereals, fruits and vegetables on their farm. La libertaria is a project located in the Andes of Lara State. We have decided to provide support to them through the donation of seeds to help it on its way to food self-sufficiency. Having participated in the coordination of sustainable alternatives, La Libertaria will be able to share also with other projects different varieties of organic seeds for the multiplication of seed banks in the country. Due to an energy and economic crisis, it is absolutely necessary that we coordinate across borders to revegetate the fallow areas, promote pollination, agroecology, and transmit seeds and techniques to those in need. Food autonomy is as important as the cultural battle for a sustainable way of life and the defense of another social organization free from productivism and domination.

The situation in Venezuela is not inevitable. We want to co-create another reality and for this our project -Co-creando- will work to support social and ecological alternatives in Venezuela. To begin with, we want to support La Libertaria which has many contacts with the peasants of Lara State and which has strengthened its address book during the meeting of community projects at the Cecosesola cooperative. With its libertarian identity and its experience in popular education, La libertaria will be able to use seeds for themselves and for others, so that seed banks and food autonomy flourish. We make an alliance with them to strengthen the agroecological dynamic in Venezuela; and promote family and community organic gardens.

The population organized in a network is able to take a huge step to get closer to autonomy and food justice. We hope that land and resources are used for this: to allow the population to live while recreating an ecosystem conducive to biodiversity.

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La Libertaria farm

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2 The data comes from the report produced by the Observatory of Political Ecology of Venezuela.