Hernández E. Elementos que facilitan o dificultan el surgimiento de un liderazgo comunitario. Una reflexión a partir de la experiencia del centro campesino “El Convite” en Mucuchíes. [Elements that facilitate or hinder the emergence of community leadership. A reflection based on the experience of the farmworker center “El Convite” in Mucuchíes.] En: Montero M (coord.). Psicología social comunitaria. [Social community psychology.]Guadalajara (Mexico): Universidad de Guadalajara [University ofGuadalajara]. 1994. p. 211-238.

Objectives: To analyze the experience of leadership development that evolved since 1979 in Mucuchíes, Mérida, Venezuela, in a farmworker center.

Methodology: Qualitative, through in-depth interviews; analytical and interpretive.

Results: The author defines leadership as a relationship between leader and followers – the community in the case analyzed – in a determined context. From this perspective, the leader should be the engine who fosters participation in communities, as a way to transform the communities into protagonists of changes for the improvement of life conditions and for the achievement of a creative identity that permits these communities to transform themselves into a reference group for the country’s politics.

The author analyzes the community experience of a literacy campaign, initiated in 1979, under the principles of popular education, based on an adaptation of Paulo Freire’s proposal. As part of the Freirean strategy, the group tried to provide a liberating vision for religious practices that formed a part of community traditions. The original idea was to generate organizational initiatives in the communities, developing a consciousness of belonging, to value oneself and one’s capabilities. This development was based on three aspects: recognition of people’s own capacity, identification with the space where they live, and belonging to a concrete human group.

The article analyzes in detail the concepts that sustain the process of developing community leadership. The basis of this type of leadership is a working relationship among members of a group, in which the leader acquires special status, through active participation and demonstration of his/her capacity to bring determined tasks to a conclusion. Through the concepts considered as fundamental for the development of leadership, the author analyzes the concrete experience, its accomplishments and failures, through unstructured interviews with community leaders and other community members.

Conclusions: From the analysis of this experience, the author concludes that three challenges exist: 1) to train leaders so that they can assume their task from a participatory perspective; 2) to design strategies for working with communities that address the necessity of participation and their notion of acting as protagonists, and to give these tools to the leaders who emerge; and, 3) to democratize the context, creating suitable mechanisms for community intervention in institutions that reflect social and economic policies.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico