Fellow Since 1996
Escuela de Vecinos de Venezuela
This profile was prepared when Elías Santana was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Elias Santana has applied the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy in a powerful and socially useful way. He is mobilizing Venezuelan citizens in their millions to construct a "social compact" about what their country should look like in the year 2020. Fortified by this shared vision of the future, Elias expects a more organized and self-conscious Venezuelan citizen sector to proceed to bring it into being. Several fundamental consequences from this purposeful awakening of Venezuelan citizens are anticipated besides an agreed compact about a preferred future, including reform of the corrupt political party system and a re-authorization of political institutions, which are now stripped of popular credibility. While it is unashamedly and profoundly political, "Venezuela 2020," as the project is called, is avowedly nonpartisan. It will not endorse or in any way support politicians or organizations that adopt its vision, although it will lobby all politicians and policy bodies to do so. It will become the emblem of the third sector of society, the citizen sector, as distinct from the state and business sectors, and its defining character will be that it represents the free and voluntary activity of independent citizens.