Participatory democracy is at the heart of the 'Bolivarian Revolution' taking place in Venezuela. A complete restructuring of governance and power structures is under way, shifting the balance of power to the community level and engaging the populace in the political process as never before. The 'consejos communales' or 'communal councils' represent a grass roots form of government that is legitimized and funded at the federal level. This is a unique situation, and it has made Venezuela one of the most dynamic models of participatory democracy in the world today. The government refers to the councils as the 'fuel for the engines of people power,' and the following article illustrates how this deepening of direct and participatory democratic institutions is having a real effect in communities all across Venezuela. - Editor
By Jay Hartling April 24, 2007
Carora's streets are much like other Latin American cities — bustling commerce on every corner, traffic, noise, people going about their daily routine. But there is something that distinguishes Carora and the Municipality of Pedro Leon Torres in the state of Lara, Venezuela from any other municipality I've visited in Latin America, and in particular, any other in Venezuela.
That is, the city is on a path to democratize and transform the entire governance system of the municipality, from the bottom up — led by the current Mayor, Julio Chavez (no relation to President Hugo Chavez).