Last week, we spoke about ‘managed democracy’ in the US. In this show, we bust the myths about the democracy movement in Venezuela. The US media routinely misreports on Venezuela because its success threatens US Empire. Mike Fox, a journalist and documentarian, has covered the rise of participatory democracy in Venezuela and other Latin American countries over the past ten years. Following the election of Hugo Chavez, the people of Venezuela rewrote the Constitution granting rights to education, health care, land for growing food and more. They have worked to build new institutions to meet their needs and are creating a democratic structure of governance through community councils. The results are that they have the lowest index of inequality in all of South America and are ranked fifth in the world in happiness. We then speak with Maria Hadden of the Participatory Budgeting Project in the US. Participatory budgeting gives decision-making power over public funds to the people. In the US, it started in Chicago and is growing coast to coast.
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Mike Fox has worked for many years as a freelance journalist, radio reporter, and documentary film-maker covering Latin America. He is the co-author of Venezuela Speaks!: Voices from the Grassroots (2010) and the co-director of the documentary films Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas and Crossing the American Crises: From Collapse to Actions. All are available on PM Press. He is on the board of Venezuelanalysis.com. His work can be found at blendingthelines.org. His new book, Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, is available through Zed Books.
Maria Hadden is a resident of Chicago’s 49th Ward. Maria first became involved with deliberative processes as a mediator and mediation trainer in Columbus, Ohio working with the Interfaith Center for Peace. She is an AmeriCorps*VISTA alum and earned her M.S. in Public Service Management from DePaul University. She became involved with Participatory Budgeting as a volunteer community representative during the first PB process in the U.S. in Chicago’s 49th ward in 2009. She now works for The Participatory Budgeting Project providing assistance to communities working to design their own process.