Rosales Announces Opposition Commission for Reform of Constitution

Opposition Leader, Manuel Rosales, may have lost Sunday's elections, but he's not throwing in the towel. Rosales announced yesterday afternoon at a press conference with his leading opposition colleagues that this Thursday he too will call for a commission to initiate proposals for a reform of the Constitution.

Caracas, Venezuela, December 6, 2006 ( – Opposition Leader, Manuel Rosales, may have lost Sunday’s elections, but he’s not throwing in the towel.  Rosales announced yesterday afternoon at a press conference with his leading opposition colleagues, Julio Borges (Primero Justicia National Coordinator), Teodoro Petkoff (Tal Cual editor), Leopold Lopez (Chacao Mayor), and dozens of supporters that this Thursday he too will call for a commission to initiate proposals for a reform of the Constitution.  

"To begin the work, not just of mobilization, the work with social justice, the work of organization, that we are beginning to construct and build, this Thursday, we will install a Commission that we have designated to initiate our proposals for a Constitutional reform," said Rosales.

President Hugo Chavez, who won Sunday’s elections with nearly 63% of the vote, announced before the election, that if re-elected, he would call for a commission to study the reform of the Venezuelan Constitution.  He reiterated those plans yesterday at a press conference at the Presidential Palace, Miraflores, where he again suggested the possibility of democratically changing the Venezuelan Constitution to allow for indefinite reelections of the President.  Chavez has been clear that any change to the Constitution, would have to go to popular vote before all of Venezuela’s citizens.

Yesterday, Chavez welcomed the opposition to also offer their proposals and ideas.

It appears that Rosales took him seriously.  Just a few hours later the opposition leader announced that among the opposition Constitutional reform proposals are the Mi Negra debit card- one of Rosales´campaign proposals, which he called yesterday "the most serious social justice proposal in the country";  respect for the freedom of expression and education; the "clear and definite establishment" of respect of private property in Venezuela; proportional representation of the minority in the National Assembly;  reduction of the Presidential period to 4 years; election of the president through a 2nd round; limits to the power of the President when he is an electoral candidate;  creation of norms to guarantee the management of public administration "in a true battle against corruption"; strengthen processes of decentralization and popular participation; establish an "inclusive and efficient" system of social security in Venezuela; and the "unification of the electoral processes to two great elections," because, Rosales said, the people become "tired of so many elections."

"We believe there should be two great elections," said Rosales.  "The President of the Republic and the National Assembly, that would permit the representation of the popular will and expression," said Rosales.    

Rosales said they would be traveling the country to bring the debate of the proposals to the people, but told those in the government, "I don’t want you to interpret these as proposals for the confrontation and the true war, that´s not the idea. We are going to begin a discussion."

According to Rosales, his commission for the reform of the Constitution, is the beginning of their work as a "democratic alternative."  Rosales stated that the great decisions in Venezuela should be made in consultation with the people and that democracy is the maximum expression of the government.            

Supported by those present, Rosales, additionally announced that he "assumes  the responsibility of driving this powerful movement" of the opposition which he said, will bring them "to victory."

"We are going to continue the struggle," said Rosales. "We are going to be in the streets."

Rosales, who accepted his defeat to Chavez on election night, said yesterday that he was "happy" with the results of Sunday´s election and believed the opposition was able to achieve a great deal over the three month campaign.  According to Rosales, their own exit polls "coincided with what the CNE announced on Sunday night, the 3rd of December, in their first  bulletin."

"Knowing and convinced that the game had been clean, with scratches through the course of the day, abuses in some places and intimidation in others, violence in others, but in general terms they had fulfilled the laws and the norms, that there was an expression of the people at the polls, that the people had spoken, and I always said that if that was the case, we would respect the decision and the will of the people of Venezuela," said Rosales.

Rosales also accepted responsibility for past mistakes made by the opposition.

"Today, I want to assume with my head high, because others have not… the errors that have been committed in the past," said Rosales.  "We ask for forgiveness from Venezuela for this.  Many of them where not our fault nor were we in agreement with them, but you can´t leave them like that.  We assume them with bravery, we assume them  for others, so that they are erased and they disappear."