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5.17.2007

Venezuela's Local Councils Experiment


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Venezuela Lets Councils Bloom

Venezuela's recent experiment to allow local councils to take charge of community affairs is reminiscent of the Philippine Barangays. When the national government placed a lot of power in the hands of the local leaders, the idea is for the people in the locality to have sufficient power to resolve the affairs of the community.
"Thousands of councils have been founded nationwide, and they have made decisions on almost everything from trash collection to school construction."
There is a lot of wisdom in this program. However, since let Venezuela learn from some the experiences of the Filipinos:

1. The delegation of power should come with corresponding access/control over funding. Otherwise, the local communities will be become toothless tigers.

2. Local access to funds exposes the country to additional possible sources of corruption. Some of Venezuela's local councils are experiencing that, at this point.
"The councils have been buoyed by success stories in some neighborhoods and tarnished by cases of corruption and incompetence in others."
3. Giving power and prestige to the local councils will lead to an increased level of politicization in the lower levels. In the Philippines, the barangay elections has already become highly politicized.

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