CARACAS, Friday December 16, 2005 | Update
National Assembly chair Nicolás Maduro asserted that Venezuelans would be asked their opinion on an extension of the re-election term (Photo: Jorge Santos)
PEDRO PABLO PEÑALOZA
The permanence of Hugo Chávez in power is expected to be in the spotlight in 2006: first, he is running for a second six-year term and second, the National Assembly is set to debate a constitutional reform intended to extend the term of re-election.
Pro-government parliamentarian Nicolás Maduro, the head of the legislature, Thursday claimed that in 2006 Venezuelans would be asked for their "opinion on whether they agree or not with re-election." The constitutional amendment is also to address other issues.
"If someday Venezuelans believe that all the persons elected by the people should be re-elected as many times as they want, this will be the subject matter of a grassroots debate," Maduro said.
Maduro stressed that the main changes to be made to the Venezuelan constitution are related to "the adaptation of the new endogenous development economic model, based on new experiences regarding cooperatives and social production firms, as well as the creation of a new inclusive social system involving education, culture and welfare."
The head of the legislature added that parliamentarians supporting President Hugo Chávez "believe that a social controllership should be established under the constitution, in a way that citizens monitoring a work, for instance, may be duly empowered and have the capacity to take all relevant steps before the citizens' power and the judiciary."
Maduro said that in 2006 they are to define the aspects of the constitution subject to change. They are to draft proposals and exchange opinion with the people. Once this phase of "maturation" of ideas is completed, amendments are expected to take place in 2007-2008, he estimated.
Hard to talk
Maduro said talks with the opposition parties that withdrew from December 4th parliament election are unlikely. Instead, he may seek a rapprochement with diverse social players in the country.
"Dialogue has to take place under social terms, it is hard to talk about dialogue with political parties. If the puzzle of the opposition is fuzzy, they have to find order again before we can talk about dialogue," said the leader of ruling party MVR.
"The most difficult thing now is to launch talks with opposition parties. It is hard to talk to people who do not have any idea on the future, their path or the choices."
Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.
02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.