Caracas–As part of the revolutionary Bolivarian government’s program of building popular involvement in decision-making, the First Social Parliament of the Streets was held on August 26 in the grounds of the Federal Legislative Palace. A large crowd gathered to hear addresses from National Assembly (AN) deputies, including the assembly’s president Cilia Flores, and to discuss a number of important pieces of legislation that had recently been before the parliament.
The official publicity for the event described the Parliament of the Streets as “an expression of participative democracy, offered by the deputies elected on December 4 last year; a commitment between the National Assembly and the people … [It is] no more than the deepening of the democracy in which the deputies are converted into promotors of the search for answers to the demands of the community, in the process of constructing popular power.”
It continued by explaining that “the National Assembly, the fundamental parliament of the country, is making a leap forward in beginning to transfer its authority to popular power. That is to say, the legislative power is building and strengthening, together with the people, a national network of public consultation on all the themes and laws that are in discussion, directed by the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
A major session at the event discussed the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, and agreed to create a ministry for family and child protection. This followed six months of discussion between the AN deputies and the Council for the Rights of the Child, which concluded with the debate being forwarded to the regions to allow the participation of children themselves.
Another important session involved the law for protecting women and for a woman’s right to a life without violence. According to the August 27 Ultimas Noticias, NA deputy Flor Rios explained that prior discussions on the new law had taken place with representatives of 35 non-government organisations, the attorney-general’s department, the people’s defender and the National Institute of Women.
More than 250 people attended a session to discuss the law on citizens’ participation and popular power, and after considerable debate, decided to call for the holding of another meeting to further analyse the proposals. In regard to the law on the Communal Councils, it was suggested that the link between the executive and the councils be strengthened.
Other sessions held during the Parliament of the Streets that attracted interest included one on the Law for the Protection of Incapacitated Persons, which put forward the demand that all businesses must have disabled people as 5% of their employees. A further session discussed a plan for what was described as a “revolution” in the organisation of sports and physical education in Venezuela.
Originally published at: Green Left Weekly