“The President is in our Constitution like the sun, firmly centred, provides life to the universe….. This supreme authority has to be perpetual and on a permanent basis”
Aldus het parlementslid Carlos Escarra van Venezuela over de aanstaande veranderingen in de grondwet aldaar.
Via een contact in Venezuela ontvingen wij een vertaalde versie van een redactioneel commentaar uit Journal La Nación van Costa Rica gedateerd 23 augustus. Hieronder de integrale tekst.
With his constitutional reform, Chávez comes nearer to a dictatorship.
The axis to his master plan is to concentrate a “perpetual” centralized power, devoid of any counterbalancing power.
Journal La Nación Costa Rica 23/08/07
The constitutional reform project, presented on August 15th to the National Assembly by the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, is totally unrelated with his so called “Socialism of the XXI th. century”, as he has been proclaiming it for some time now. On the contrary, it deals with one additional step y the slow, but persistent, inroad towards a dictatorship. This is achieved through a practically absolute centralisation of power on the Presidency as well as the attempt to maintain himself in power on a definitive basis. In other words, instituting an irresponsible and authoritarian populist warlord, that implies a very severe setback in his country politics and therefore of the hemisphere.
The 1999 Constitution, that he now pretends to reform, was in fact promoted by Chávez when elected in 1998. In it, the Republican democratic state scheme, was basically maintained, wirh the division of powers, civil and political protection to ensure that individuals would be adequately safeguarded and maintaining independent institutions. The presidential mandate was increased from four to six years and only one consecutive re-election was included. Under such a scheme new elections were organised, and Chávez won with a considerable margin. He again won last December and this his mandate is until 2012.
The main reforms among the 33 constitutional articles being proposed is to increase from 6 to 7 years the presidential mandate, as well as introducing indefinite re-election, which means a clear intention to perpetuate himself in power. This is indeed very serious, but it becomes more so if one examines the absolute centralised suggested scheme that virtually dismisses practically the few relics remaining regarding institutional control over the almost unlimited power exercised by Chávez..
As an example of the authoritarian centralism one has to simply review the hangover autonomy of the Central Bank, the creation of the “communal councils”, directly responding to the Presidency and that actually does away with such functions pertaining to the governorships or local authorities, the power given to the government to assume control of private firms even before tribunals provide expropriation orders. One has to recall that the Judiciary is under virtually total control of the Executive and that the 167 members of the National Assembly are totally under official control, since the opposition did not participate in the 2005 legislative elections as insufficient warranties were provided for a transparent and fair election. In other words, if the reform is approved, a dictatorship will be established even though some legitimate basis might be argued.
As a curious observation which actually provides Chávez light demagogy is his proposal to reduce the working labour hours to 6 daily, as if it were possible to simply decree this kind of reform to restructure the basis of the economy. The President himself provided this argument as an example that the country is marching slowly bur realistically towards socialism.
Everything indicates that the reform process will be undertaken abruptly. Last Tuesday unanimously the officially controlled Assembly approved the text after the three necessary lectures required to officially approve the reform. It now has to be subjected to a referendum, likely to take place in December.
The shameful degree of subordination of the legislative was actually made clear by Carlos Escarra, member of the Assembly in these terms: “The President is in our Constitution like the sun, firmly centred, provides life to the universe“. He then added: “This supreme authority has to be perpetual and on a permanent basis“.
If within the referendum, there would be some minimum climate of liberty, that would allow the opposition to confront through a transparent and decisive campaign, Chavez plans this could be stopped: several soundings provide clear indication of Venezuelan rejecting socialism as well as indefinite re-election, as well as their support for democracy. But, as we have been witnessing how liberties are being curtailed, what is more likely to happen is that the voice of opposition will be seriously constrained and what will be the outcome is a dictatorial warlord ship of the most opprobrious kind.