If, like me, you live in the Western, capitalist world, you likely haven’t heard anything about the revolutionary referendum that just occurred in Venezuela except the lie that it’s going to make Chavez “President for Life” (see: Fox News, Daily Telegraph) or that the referendum was likely going to be won by the “no” side
In actuality, the amendment to Article 230 merely removes the two-term limit on the Venezuelan president and allows him/her to continue serving so long as the public continues voting for him or her in regularly scheduled (7 years apart) elections. So, by this logic, it’s anti-democratic to let people democratically vote for whomever they wish. Also, by this logic, Canada isn’t a democracy because our former Prime Minister Mackenzie King was first elected in 1921 and served (with only short interruptions) until 1948.
So, since I imagine few people have taken the time to cut past the corporate media and find out what was actually proposed
and adopted by the people of Venezuela (new exit polls now put the victory of the referendum in question. Stay tuned for more developments), here is a list of some of what I consider to be the best of the 69 constitutional reforms proposed. Canada should seriously take a look at this and consider implementing some of these reforms here.
The bolded items, I believe, are the best of the best and thus should be a first priority for Canada to catch up to Venezuela.
Art. 18 – Provides a new right, the right to the city, which says that all citizens have the right to equal access to the city’s services or benefits. Also names Caracas, the capital as the “Cradle of Simon Bolivar, the Liberator, and Queen of the Warairarepano” [an indigenous name for the mountain range surrounding Caracas].
Art. 64 – Lowers the minimum voting age from 18 to 16 years.
Art. 67 – Requires candidates for elected office to be set up in accordance with gender parity, reverses the prohibition against state financing of campaigns and parties, and prohibits foreign funding of political activity.
Art. 70 – Establishes that councils of popular power (of communities, workers, students, farmers, fishers, youth, women, etc.) are one of the main means for citizen participation in the government.
Art. 87 – Creates a social security fund for the self-employed, in order to guarantee them a pension, vacation pay, sick pay, etc.
Art. 90 – Reduction of the workweek from 44 hours to 36.
Art. 98 – Guarantees freedom for cultural creations, but without guaranteeing intellectual property.
Art. 100 – Recognition of Venezuelans of African descent, as part of Venezuelan culture to protect and promote (in addition to indigenous and European culture).
Art. 103 – Right to a free education expanded from high school to university.
Art. 112 – The state will promote a diversified and independent economic model, in which the interests of the community prevail over individual interests and that guarantee the social and material needs of the people. The state is no longer obliged to promote private enterprise.
Art. 113 – Monopolies are prohibited instead of merely being “not allowed.” The state has the right to “reserve” the exploitation of natural resources or provision of services that are considered by the constitution or by a separate law to be strategic to the nation. Concessions granted to private parties must provide adequate benefits to the public.
Art. 115 – Introduces new forms of property, in addition to private property. The new forms are (1) public property, belonging to state bodies, (2) direct and indirect social property, belonging to the society in general, where indirect social property is administered by the state and direct is administered by particular communities, (3) collective property, which belongs to particular groups, (4) mixed property, which can be a combination of ownership of any of the previous five forms.
Art. 136 – Creates the popular power, in addition to the municipal, state, and national powers. “The people are the depositories of sovereignty and exercise it directly via the popular power. This is not born of suffrage nor any election, but out of the condition of the human groups that are organized as the base of the population.” The popular power is organized via communal councils, workers’ councils, student councils, farmer councils, crafts councils, fisher councils, sports councils, youth councils, elderly councils, women’s councils, disables persons’ councils, and others indicated by law.
Art. 152 – Venezuela’s foreign policy is directed towards creating a pluri-polar world, free of hegemonies of any imperialist, colonial, or neo-colonial power.
Art. 153 – Strengthening of the mandate to unify Latin America, so as to achieve what Simon Bolivar called, “A Nation of Republics.”
Art. 167 – States’ incomes are increased from 20% to 25% of the national budget, where 5% is to be dedicated to the financing of each state’s communal councils.
Art. 230 – Presidential term is extended from six to seven years. The two consecutive term limit on presidential reelection is removed.
Art. 272 – Removal of the requirement for the state to create an autonomous penitentiary system and places the entire system under the administration of a ministry instead of states and municipalities. Also, removes the option of privatizing the country’s penitentiary system.
Art. 299 – The socio-economic regimen of the country is based on socialist (among other) principles. Instead of stipulating that the state promotes development with the help of private initiative, it is to do so with community, social, and personal initiative.
Art. 303 – Removal of the permission to privatize subsidiaries of the country’s state oil industry that operate within the country.
Art. 307 – Strengthening of the prohibition against latifundios (large and idle landed estates) and creation of a tax on productive agricultural land that is idle. Landowners who engage in the ecological destruction of their land may be expropriated.
Art. 318 – Removal of the Central Bank’s autonomy and foreign reserves to be administrated by the Central Bank together with the President.
Art. 328 – Armed forces of Venezuela renamed to “Bolivarian Armed Force.” Specification that the military is “patriotic, popular, and anti-imperialist” at the service of the Venezuelan people and never at the service of an oligarchy or of a foreign imperial power, whose professionals are not activists in any political party (modified from the prohibition against all political activity by members of the military).
Art. 21 – Inclusion of prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation and on health.
Art. 82 – Protection of primary home from confiscation due to bankruptcy or other legal proceedings.
Art. 109 – Equal voting rights for professors, students, and employees in the election of university authorities.
May our Venezuelan comrade’s fidelity to the blood-stained banner of social justice continue to be an inspiration to us all in victory and defeat.
Correction: Since posting this, new exit polls have come in which put the victory of the referendum in question.