Constitution – Title VII: National security (Art. 322-332)

Chapter I: General Provisions

Article 322: National security is an essential competence and responsibility of the State, based on the overall development of the latter, and its defense is the responsibility of all Venezuelans, as well as of all public and private law natural and juridical persons within the geographical limits of Venezuela.

Article 323: The National Defense Council is the highest consultative organ for planning and advising the Public Power as to matters relating to the overall defense of the Nation, its sovereignty and the integrity of its geographical space. To this end, it is also charged with establishing the Nation’s strategic concept. Presided over by the President of the Republic, it also includes the Executive Vice-President, the President of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the Chairman of the Republican Ethic Council and the Ministers of Defense, Internal Security, Foreign Relations and Planning, and any others whose participation may be deemed appropriate. The pertinent organic law shall determine the organization and attributions of the National Defense Council.

Article 324: Only the State shall be permitted to possess and use weapons of war; any such weapons which now exist or are manufactures in or imported into the country shall become the property of the Republic, without compensation or proceedings. The National Armed Forces shall be the institution of competence to regulate and control, in accordance with the pertinent legislation, the manufacture, importing, exporting, storage, transit, registration, control, inspection, marketing, possession and use or other weapons, munitions and explosives.

Article 325: The National Executive reserves the right to classify and control disclosure of matters directly relating to the planning and execution of operations concerning national security, on such terms as may be established by law.

Chapter II: Principles of National Security

Article 326: National security is based on shared responsibility between the State and civil society to implement the principles of independence, democracy, equality, peace, freedom, justice, solidarity, promotion and conservation of the environment and affirmation of human rights, as well as on that of progressively meeting the individual and collective needs of Venezuelans*, based on a sustainable and productive development policy providing full coverage for the national community. The principle of shared responsibility applies to the economic, social, political, cultural, geographical, environmental and military spheres.

Article 327: Attention to borders is a priority matter in the enforcement and application of national security principles. To this end, a border security belt is established, with width, special economic and social regimes, settlement and utilization. shall be regulated by law, with special protection for national parks and other areas under special administrative arrangements, as well as the habitat of the native people settled in the areas concerned.

Chapter III: The National Armed Forces

Article 328: The National Armed Forces constitute an essentially professional institution, with no political orientation, organized by the State to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the Nation and ensure the integrity of its geographical space, through military defense, cooperation for the purpose of maintaining internal order and active participation in national development, in accordance with this Constitution and the law. In performing their functions, they are at the exclusive service of the Nation, and in no case at the service of any person or political partisanship. The pillars on which they are founded are discipline, obedience and subordination. The National Armed Forces consist of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the National Guard, which function in an integrated manner within the scope of their competence to fulfill their mission, with their own overall Social Security system, as established under the pertinent organic law.

Article 329: The Army, Navy and Air Force have as their essential responsibility the planning, execution and control of military operations as required to ensure the defense of the Nation. The National Guard shall cooperate in the carrying out of these operations, and shall have as its basic responsibility that of conducting operations as required to maintain internal order within the country. The National Armed Forces shall carry out activities of administrative policing and criminal investigation activities as provided for by law.

Article 330: Members of the National Armed Forces on active duty have the right to vote in accordance with law, but are not permitted to run for any office filled by popular vote, nor to participate in acts of political advertising, militancy or proselytizing.

Article 331: Military promotions shall be in accordance with merit, hierarchy and vacancies. They are the exclusive prerogative of the National Armed Forces, and shall be regulated by the pertinent law.

Chapter IV: Civilian Security Organs

Article 332: The National Executive, in accordance with law, to maintain, and restore public order; protect citizens, homes and families; support the decisions of the competent authorities and ensure the peaceful enjoyment of constitutional guarantees and rights, shall organize:

(1) A uniformed national police corps.

(2) A scientific, criminal and criminological investigation corps.

(3) A civilian fire department and emergency management corps.

(4) A civil defense and disaster management organization.

Organs of civilian security are of civil nature and shall respect human dignity and human rights, without discrimination of any kind.

The functions of the civilian security organs constitute a concurrent competence with those of the States and Municipalities, on the terms established in this Constitution and the Law.