Bolívar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ)

6 maggio 2021 Alex Moldovan

The Bolívar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ) is an umbrella organization that groups communal councils, a national peasant organization, a worker organization, and a social studies training centre. It is an autonomous current of the larger Bolivarian process.

Mission and Purpose

The CRBZ is an autonomous organization in the Bolivarian process focused on developing popular power among the poor. It is Marxist in orientation and has a national reach [1]. Specifically, it seeks to expand the capacity of communal councils and related institutions to achieve an economy self-managed and self-governed by peasants and workers.

According to their website:

“[t]he CRBZ is a space for participation and meeting of any person who wants to fight for the construction of a more just and democratic society, for the good life of the people and a better world, which necessarily implies the construction of a different alternative to the capitalist system.”[2].

The mission of the CRZB is to deepen the revolutionary transformation in the Venezuelan countryside by organizing peasant take-overs of unused land and organizing cooperative and communal structures. Often it organizes peasant communities against retaliatory violence from landlords and corrupt elements of the state bureaucracy.

Origins and Development

The CRBZ is composed of four constituent organizations: the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant National Front; the Simon Bolivar National Communal Front; Workers Popular Power Movement; and the Centre for Training and Social Study Simón Rodríguez. The first two have been active in land-occupations and the construction of communal councils. The CRBZ has a national reach, organizing in in dozens of rural Venezuelan states like Guarico, Apure, Lara, and Barinas.

The Ezequiel Zamora Peasant National Front is the oldest part of the CRBZ. In 1998 and 1999 it was working with rural people to organize agrarian reform [3]. The 2001 Land and Agricultural Development Law enabled this organization to undertake lawful occupations of unused land [4]. In one instance, the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant National Front organized the occupation and re-starting of production of part of a farm previously expropriated by the state to distribute to landless peasants. In this way they immediately attained 500 hectares of land, machinery, and financing to organize a local cooperative [1].

In 2005 the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant National Front grouped together 350 popular democratic communal councils to build the Simon Bolivar National Communal Front as a popular democratic to the existing state and capitalist economy. One organizer describes their first steps in the following way:

“We began our communal work in the state of Apure, a very difficult area to do grassroots organizing because of thefts, contraband, irregular forces that exist along the border (with Colombia), paramilitaries, and assassinations carried out by local elites. There in Apure we got started. The first thing we did was to bring together 39 communal councils and form eight communes. Once that was accomplished, we formed the country’s first communal city, now known as the Simon Bolivar Socialist Campesino Communal City (CCCS-SB).” [3]

While the origins of the CRBZ pre-date the election of Hugo Chávez, it’s membership and organizing of popular democratic institutions exploded under the reforms of the Bolivarian Revolution. Today, the CRBZ is a permanent feature of the Bolivarian process that organizes cooperatives, communal councils, and collective production. Thus in working with the legal frameworks established by the government, the CRBZ evolved over time from a national peasant organization into one that uses communal councils to build an alternative to both oil dependence and a bureaucratic state rooted in participatory democracy.

Historically, Venezuela has been an importer of food due in part because of the oil economy and land ownership was extremely concentrated. Drawing from the discourse of food sovereignty and re-engaging in production, the CRBZ uses popular democracy to address the issues of food scarcity and rural inequality in land ownership.

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

The CRBZ has central structures of spokespeople who coordinate activities nationally. Within their communal wing, affiliated communal councils operate within the legal regulations established by the Special Law on Communal Councils, the Organic Law of the Communes, and the Organic Law on the Communal Economic System [5]. In this respect, the highest decision making in the neighbourhood level is in the Citizen Assembly with elected spokespeople appointed to manage day-to-day activities. Chapters exist throughout Venezuela.

Start-up funding for cooperative and communal production initiatives, as well as technical assistance, have historically come from the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Institute of Rural Development (INDER), the National Institute of Lands (INTI), and the National Institute for Agricultural Health [1]. Additionally, the INITI is the legal organ responsible for transferring ownership of occupied lands. These state organs have been denounced by activists for the bureaucratic and corrupt way they are run and delays in grants agrarian charters to legalize occupied land [4,6]. Conflicts have included marches and office occupations.

At a grass-roots level, ultimate decision making on financial issues is made by the Citizen’s Assemblies of each communal council and commune. Each communal council appoint sits own members to run a Unit of Financial Administration that makes day-to-day management decisions over finances [5]. At the level of the commune, each communal council elects a spokesperson to a Communal Parliament which approves a Communal Development Plan. Each commune has a Communal Bank that manages financing to realize the plan.

Specializations, Methods and Tools

The CRBZ plays a catalyzing role in organizing communal councils, setting up social owned production, and expanding participatory democracy into the economy and politics of the areas where they organize. It creates participatory communal councils through organizing land occupations and re-igniting food production. Activities use to achieve this include neighbourhood assemblies, community censuses, community elections, participatory planning, participatory budgeting, co-managed farms, and co-managed municipalities [7].

Major Projects and Events

The CRBZ has organized several major projects including Simon Bolivar Socialist Campesino Communal City and the establishment of new communal councils throughout Venezuela. Additionally it has participated in the 2017 National Constituent Assembly and the 2018 Admirable Campesino March [8].

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The CRBZ has pursued a dual strategy of building communal councils as expressing participatory democracy while running candidates for the United Social Party (PSUV) in municipalities where they actively organize [1]. This strategy is described by Dario Azzellini as two track construction of socialism [1]. CRBZ spokespeople have said this works well as they use the municipal offices to buttress the decisions made by participatory institutions [9].  


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