The first week of the national debate on Venezuela’s Socialist Plan of the Nation 2013 – 2019 has been marked by mass participation, with citizen assemblies held throughout the country.
The debate initiative was launched over a week ago to encourage citizens to contribute their ideas and proposals to the Chavez government’s development plan for the coming six years.
A draft of the Socialist Plan was presented to the country by President Hugo Chavez earlier this year, with citizen input now being used to draw up the final version.
Key mechanisms of participation are the public assemblies called “Cities of Debate,” which meet daily around an organised program. One of these was installed in each of Venezuela’s regional states last week.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of the City of Debate in the western Cojedes state, food minister Carlos Osorio said, “The Socialist Plan isn’t going to be made in the four walls of the [presidential] Palace of Miraflores. It’s being developed in all of this work [with grassroots participation]”.
Debates are also being organised according to specific sectors, such as environmentalism and youth.
Events are to be held in 27 of Venezuela’s national parks to discuss one of the Socialist Plan’s main objectives, “preserving life on the planet and saving the human species”. This included a debate among environmental conservation committees on Saturday in the Fransico de Miranda Park in Caracas.
Youth supporters of the government have also begun formulating their own proposals for inclusion in the plan.
“We’ve been in constant discussions with different activist groups to make the necessary contributions to the discussion, because the space of participation shouldn’t only be the electoral one, but rather the contribution you can make to the national plan,” said Sony Sanchez, a member of the youth wing of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, to public channel VTV yesterday.
Officials have highlighted the extent of participation in the national debate so far, with 4,500 proposals collected in six regional states over the weekend for possible inclusion in the plan.
Meanwhile around 13,000 assemblies are being organised across the western state of Lara alone, according to local assembly organiser Gerardo González. “These 13,000 assemblies are taking place in communal councils, public organisations and other organised spaces of the communities that want to contribute to the new Socialist Plan of the Nation,” he explained to state news agency AVN last week.
Along with citizen assemblies, other mechanisms of participation include submitting proposals through post boxes and online.
The debate initiative is following a timetable, with the current phase seeing the gathering of proposals from organisations and individuals. Then, from 1 – 31 December, compilation, systemisation, and presentation of results will be undertaken and reviewed by President Chavez and his government.
In January Chavez will then present the completed Socialist Plan to Venezuela’s National Assembly for debate and approval.
Venezuelanalysis.com has published an image set of the debating process here.