On 28 August, delegates from the CPGB-ML attended the 31st meeting of the present housing committee of the Ministerio de Habitat y Vivienda (ministry of environment and housing). This committee is responsible for delivering ‘La Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela’ (the great Venezuelan housing mission).
Every Thursday in Venezuela the government celebrates the achievements of its housing programme, and the meetings of the housing committee are broadcast for the public to see both the advances of Venezuelan social housing and the participation of the working class in the functioning of the state.
Speaking to the meeting, Minister Ildemaro Villarroel said: “Our work as Chavistas is to raise the level and standard of housing. We can be proud of our achievements so far. Today we make our announcements before the Venezuelan people and in the presence of our medal-winning athletes, our self-build team, and our international guests from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), whose presence is testament to the international character of the Bolivarian revolution, which does not stand alone, but has the support of millions of workers around the world.”
Since 2011 the Venezuelan state has built more than 2.7 million homes for workers, with priority given to rehousing the poorest citizens. Many thousands have been built by self-build teams – groups of workers who build houses themselves in their local communities, with training and materials supplied by the Venezuelan government.
Some 1,511 housing schemes across the country have been or are being built by these self-build groups, who have collectively delivered 37 percent of the housing units so far completed. A noteable feature of the self-build teams is that the majority of the workers in them are women.
The work of the housing ministry is carried on not only by paid civil servants, but by the many thousands of Chavistas organised in trade unions, local self-build teams, and in industry groups organised by the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela).
Comrade Ildemaro Villarroel continued: “We are undertaking a period of review, of self-criticism, so as to rectify errors and improve our work. We were not politically educated people, but our president Hugo Chávez taught us how to think politically. Despite 20 years of attempts to overthrow our government, the USA has failed.
“You do not have to be a Chavista in our country; you are free to think how you like. But we will not tolerate those attempting to strengthen the blockade or work for intervention. Despite all the attempts to isolate us, today I am pleased to announce the imminent arrival of the first 42 containers of house-building materials from the People’s Republic of China, which has stepped in to replace those materials that the blockade is attempting to deprive us of.”
The minister presented keys and certificates of ownership to families of athletes who recently won medals for Venezuela at the Pan-American Games. Millions of other families have received homes, furniture and materials to repair dilapidated premises. For many of the poorest workers, rent has been kept as low as 12 cents ($0.12) a month, and yet more have been provided with 100 percent credit from the state in order to obtain deeds.
The meeting received a message of greeting from our party, which also participated in a press conference afterwards. Some of these videos have already been made available online on the party’s twitter feed The Communists @CPGBML.