CARACAS, Thursday February 01, 2007 | Update
In a public session in downtown Caracas, the National Assembly for the third time since 1999 bestowed special ruling powers on the Venezuelan President (Photo: Nicola Rocco)
SARA CAROLINA DÍAZ
Following empowerment by the National Assembly to dictate decrees with legal status for 18 months, in two stages Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez plans to enact laws governing the 11 most sensitive areas in the country.
During the plenary session held in Bolívar square Wednesday, lawmaker Carlos Escarrá (ruling party MVR) explained the reasons why special ruling powers should be bestowed on President Chávez until August 2008. According to Escarrá, in a first six to seven month phase, the Executive Branch is to issue decree-laws based on the current terms of the 1999 Constitution, "in order to speed up the process and meet people's needs." In the second stage of 18-month effective period, Chávez is to legislate in accordance with the reforms to be introduced to the 1999 Constitution (and free from the restraints provided for in such Constitution).
"During the first six or seven months, President Chávez is to rule based on the constitutional regulations that will not be subject to change. The rest of the time, he is to continue issuing directives based on the reformed articles of the 1999 Constitution. This is the reason why the special powers will be in force for 18 months. There is a first stage where we need to speed up the process and prepare a set of laws to meet the people's needs. And there is a second phase -once the constitutional reform has been endorsed- where the articles reformed will be enforced. As lawmakers, we are certain that we have an obligation to endorse this 18-month effective period and tell the president we fully trust him. The laws are to benefit the people. Motherland, socialism or death!" Escarrá exclaimed.
Escarrá is a member of the Commission for Constitutional Reform appointed by President Chávez. According to the deputy -and to the Chair of the National Assembly, Cilia Flores (ruling party MVR)-, the final paper on the constitutional reform will be completed next March. Earlier, Escarrá said the reforms to the Constitution would be submitted to referendum for approval next September.
New laws to boost socialism
"We are living stellar times than can be compared only to the glorious days of our Independence war," said National Assembly deputy chair Roberto Hernández (Communist Party of Venezuela).
"Unanimously approved with the people's vote!" Flores exclaimed after asking deputies and dozens government supporters in Bolívar square to raise their hands.
Vice-President Jorge Rodríguez represented the Executive during the session. "We want to install the dictatorship of democracy forever. We are going to watch over this enabling law with deep revolutionary fervor. We will not allow wolves or lawyer's offices to change articles and stop people from participating," he said.
Lawmaker Mario Isea said the enabling law will allow for "leaving behind the capitalist framework that has prevailed since the Pact of Puntofijo (a pact that, according to some politicians, bound political parties AD, Copei and URD to limit Venezuela's political system to an exclusive competition between two parties) and pave the way for transition to socialism, because we are convinced that capitalism has failed."
Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.
Sara Carolina Diaz