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Parliament insists on advancing Chávez's defeated reform

Parliamentarian and constitutionalist lawyer Carlos Escarrá stressed that the proposed changes to the Venezuelan Constitution "are still in the streets"

“We cannot go back to insist on a proposal that has been defeated,” said Ismael García (Photo: Enio Perdomo)

PEDRO PABLO PEÑALOZA
EL UNIVERSAL

Most Venezuelans last Sunday rejected President Hugo Chávez's projected changes to the Constitution, but the Parliament Tuesday agreed "to join the Executive Branch in its determination to keep the proposal alive."

During the first ordinary session held following the defeat last December 2, parliamentarian Carlos Escarrá, who is also a constitutionalist lawyer, stressed that "the intended reform comprises the ideological foundation of the socialism we are certainly going to build. This proposal is still in the streets. We are not going to put these plans into a drawer. We have the proposal in our hearts."

Iris Varela, a parliamentarian for southwestern Táchira state, suggested the Legislature to invite President Chávez to issue decrees, using the special ruling powers conferred upon him by the
Congress, in order to implement some of the provisions set forth in the aborted reform. Particularly, Varela referred to the social aspects of the proposal.

Ismael García, on behalf of Podemos party, rejected her suggestion. "We cannot go back to insist on a proposal that has been defeated and try to present it in a different way," García warned. He proposed "telling the Executive Branch that the National Assembly is willing to hold a joint debate on a framework law on social security."

Podemos vice-president Ricardo Gutiérrez reminded that Chávez's reform "had nothing to do with the fight against poverty and social exclusion." He suggested "resetting the speech" and fostering tolerance.

Claims of exclusion
His colleagues preceding him in taking the floor, avoided using the word "defeat," but parliamentarian Eustoquio Contreras celebrated that "both Venezuela and its institutions have been strengthened." Lawmaker Mario Isea stressed that "the people who voted Yes knew what they were doing."

Parliamentarian Luis Tascón, however, did admit the defeat and declared, "The defeat was ours, from within, from Chavezism. The revolution is not a process of elites, and the people were not called upon."

Tascón asked his fellow lawmakers, "How many deputies were excluded?" And a lonely voice in the plenary session replied, "All!" Tascón topped off his speech by exclaiming, "Triumphalism, arrogance, prepotency, and pride were the losers!"

Lawmaker Pastora Medina, for PPT, agreed with some of Tascón's allegations. She asked the National Assembly to review the stance it took. "We closed our ears to other sectors, we did not conduct a democratic process," she harshly criticized. "Reconciliation will be impossible if we do not change our attitude."
ppenaloza@eluniversal.com

Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.
msuarez@eluniversal.com