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Caracas, Monday October 01 , 2007  
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Venezuelan State to govern four types of property

President Chávez visited social company "Bravo Cacique Yaracuy" in central Carabobo state early this month (Photo: Miraflores palace)
The intended new production model is largely linked to the new proposed territorial structure, which is to introduce federal territories, communes, and communities


In his draft changes to the Constitution, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has started to walk the path towards socialism -a path involving changes to the country's production model.

Such transformation is outlined in the reviewed contents of Article 112 and Article 115 regarding economic rights. Under Article 112, the State shall promote the production model and encourage and develop different forms of enterprises and social production units. Further, this article no longer provides for the people's right to devote themselves freely to the economic activity of their choice.

Under Article 115, Venezuelan Constitution in force, the right to property is guaranteed and every person has the right to the use, enjoyment, usufruct, and disposal of his or her goods. In the draft changes to this article, the right to property is diluted, and the different types of property are acknowledged and guaranteed.
The new proposed types of property are as follows: public, social, collective, mixed, and private property. The Venezuelan State is to govern four of these new five types of property, as it intends to play a role as owner, partner, and financer.

Legal experts claim that the proposed constitutional changes do not elaborate on the forms of property. However, the draft reform does clarify who are to own the different types of property, and states that the subsequent relevant laws are to define their forms.

The intended new production model is largely linked to the new proposed territorial structure, which is to introduce, beyond the present states and municipalities, federal territories, communes and communities. The latter are to become the base of the proposed scheme.

The new structure outlines, in the first place, public property -which is the property owned by the State, including the companies and agencies presently owned or likely be owned by the State.

Then there is social property. This form of property is widely fostered in the draft changes to the Constitution. It comprises two forms: indirect social property -which is exerted by the State on behalf of the community- and direct social property -the property the State transfers to one or several communities or to one or several towns.

The preamble to the draft reform states that "companies to be organized within that context are to produce goods and services to meet the basic and vital needs of the communities and their environment, and they shall not seek profit-making as their ultimate goal."

Social property is the most deeply linked to the new proposed territorial division. Legal experts, however, warn that neither communes nor towns have a legal character, unlike mayoralties and governor's offices. Therefore, some questions have emerged on how the new proposed forms of property are to relate to other sectors.

Other forms
The third proposed form of property is collective property, which is owned by social groups or individuals for common use and enjoyment. It can be social or private in nature. According to legal experts, two processes of joint management the Venezuelan government has been implementing already are encompassed in this provision. Consequently, workers may continue to play a role in companies currently under joint management. The definition of the nature of collective property means that a given private company may be converted to a joint-management company. Analysts believe that further explanation of the social collective property is needed in the relevant future laws.
Mixed property is defined as the property owned by the public, social, collective and private sectors, regardless of the combination, for purposes of enjoyment of all resources.

According to legal experts, based on the draft changes, all of the mentioned sectors are to play a role in joint companies, as there are not many choices. The preamble states that "the economic model in a phase of transition is a model of mixed economy where the companies of the social economy (cooperatives, social production enterprises) play a starring role in the economy."

Meanwhile, private property is defined as the property over goods of use, consumption, and means of production lawfully acquired. In this connection, legal experts claim that any private property failing to meet these standards may be the subject of legal actions by the Venezuelan State. The preamble of the draft changes highlights the fact that private property is acknowledged, provided that it has a social function.
Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.


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