Case Study: Educating Community Leaders to Achieve Local Changes in Rural Communities
The goal of this project was to give human rights tools to a community named Brisas del Chama located in Mérida, Venezuela. These tools were handed out through human rights workshops, educative booklets, and through the practical use of the right of access to information to achieve policy changes in urban transportation, which is fundamental to Brisas del Chama for everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Venezuelan government tightened restrictions towards civic participation and everyday life, making regular things like transportation to other states almost impossible. In the midst of this reality, since 2020, Espacio Público has activated a group of social activists around the country to push forward the agenda of the NGO to promote and defend freedom of speech and access to information.
Brisas del Chama is a rural community located in Mérida, Venezuela. The current pandemic has worsened even further the capabilities of the community to execute everyday activities, but the most aggravating problem that has become more profound during the pandemic is the access to public transportation and gasoline to achieve mobility from the community to the main cities of the state. Inhabitants of Brisas del Chama depend on public transport to go to their jobs and do everyday chores in the city. The lack and further worsening of public transportation during the pandemic has affected the capability of its inhabitants to work and resume everyday life. This problem was first identified in the first meetings with the community and was the main issue addressed through the project.
To help the community address this problem, we focused on a fundamental tool: the use of the right to access information through a formal request. Public transportation was chosen as the topic to be addressed, because among many issues that arose during the meetings with the community, this was the most pressing one due to the fact that Brisas del Chama and its inhabitants mainly depend on this service for daily activities. Transportation has worsened even further after the quarantine months of 2020, the general lack of investment in the region, and the humanitarian crisis that has also worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.