Venezuela: Constituent Assembly Claims 90% of Grassroots Proposals for New Constitution Processed

Few details have been offered on the possible content of the new Magna Carta as pressure groups continue to campaign for same-sex marriage, legal abortion, and a prominent role for communes.

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Hermann Escarra speaks to local legislators in Aragua state (CLEBA Press)
Hermann Escarra speaks to local legislators in Aragua state (CLEBA Press)

Merida, November 7, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The evaluation and organisation of the grassroots proposals for the text of Venezuela’s new constitution is “practically done,” it was reported Monday by the country’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC).

“The process of reception, analysis, evaluation, organisation and systemising [of the proposals] is practically finished, now we move onto the integration in the project,” explained President of the ANC’s Constitutional Commission Hermann Escarra. Ninety percent of the proposals have been processed, he added.

The multitude of proposals for the new constitution has been channelled through a series of grassroots assemblies across the country, and include both individual and collective proposals that are then analysed by specialised ANC commissions. “There is an enormous diversity of proposals,” Escarra elaborated.

The constitutional lawyer also stressed that there is no pre-formulated model for the constitution by ruling authorities, but rather that it is being built up based on the ideas of the population.

“There is no [pre-written] official project for the constitution, as some press outlets are saying,” he continued on state TV.

Escarra also stressed that the approval or rejection of each proposal does not correspond to the committee he presides over, but rather the ANC in general. It is also expected that the final text will go to popular referendum for approval.

Three issues which have been causing greater attention in the rewriting of the new constitution are same-sex marriage, the legalisation of abortion, and the role of Venezuela’s communes in the country’s political setup.

Whilst grassroots groups continue their campaigning schedules to pressure the ANC, past comments from the influential Escarra have cast doubt on his personal commitment to some of these objectives.

Escarra has previously firmly fixed his personal position against same sex marriage in a number of tweets, in which he stated that “I have invariably maintained that I reject same-sex marriage and I defend family and life, and will do so whatever the consequences.”

In his controversial comments, he also wrote that non-traditional marriage “goes against the natural and biological order,” and that “homosexual marriage [has no] basing in Natural Law.” He went on to add that marriage “corresponds to a man and a woman accepting their sexual identity,” and that it is “inspired in the gospel.”

He has, however, offered more promising opinions on the inclusion of the communes in the new constitution. Speaking at the Communal and Social Movement Committee of the ANC in late October, he stated that they are “transversal” to, and should be placed in a “pluri-level space” in the new text. Escarra also floated the possible creation of a new parliamentary house for communal representation.

Communes were seen by Hugo Chavez as the essential vehicle for the construction of socialism in Venezuela, as well as for the dissolution of the traditional state structure.

Venezuela’s ANC was formed in August 2017 after President Maduro called for a constituent election which had as its main goals securing peace by putting an end to terrorist street violence which ravaged the country, and solving the economic crisis.

Since, and over a year later, few details have been made available about the progress of the new constitutional text, with the ANC assuming a more day-to-day role and the passing of particular laws after the National Assembly was declared null and void by judicial authorities.

On Tuesday, the ANC emitted a formal rejection of the latest round of US and EU sanctions, which limit Venezuela’s gold trading capabilities.

“The US has been defeated time and again, but with each attempt [to overthrow the Bolivarian government] which has been defeated they accelerate the script of a continuous coup d’état. This is why it is important that we approve this declaration to reject the blockade which they are imposing on us,” stated Adan Chavez, president of the ANC’s International Relations Commission, during Tuesday’s session.

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