Mérida, June 27, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced, in a televised interview last Sunday, several proposals to reform the Venezuelan Constitution. Among the new reforms proposed is to remove the limit on the number of reelections for the president of the republic as well as changes in the structure of the armed forces. Chavez also spoke about the establishment of socialism and its relationship to private property.
Speaking on an evening talk show on the new public service channel TVes, the Venezuelan president discussed with Venezuelan journalist Eleazar Díaz Rangel various topics of national interest including various reforms to the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela. Among the changes being studied is the possibility of establishing a parliamentary-presidential system, like the French system.
"There are people who think there could be a prime minister here, like in France, meaning a president that could be indefinitely reelected, and a governor or prime minister that is elected by the Parliament each time there are parliamentary elections," said Chavez in the interview. "That is the parliamentary model, and at the same time presidential, it’s a combination," he said.
Chavez admitted that the topic of indefinite reelection would "naturally cause controversy" and he did not say which type of system he preferred.
"It is a combination, but in the end they are systems that we have to continue debating. I will give my opinion to the Assembly and later to the people," he said.
According to President Chavez, the proposed changes to the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution will be presented to the National Assembly in the second half of July and will take effect "if the Venezuelan people approve them through a referendum."
"I hope they will be taken seriously by the opposition and that they come out and make proposals and incite a good debate over the topic of socialism and capitalism," said Chavez.
Chavez also mentioned some proposed changes in the structure of the military and the creation of a new popular power to work in national defense along with the armed forces. The plan would include the creation of "permanent combined units" in which the population would participate in the protection of national sovereignty.
"In other countries, above all those preparing for defensive combat, there are these units where you have a company of tanks, one of infantry, a group or a unit of artillery and one of engineers," Chavez explained. "I really like this format, oriented toward professionalism, and a small armed forces, but later you have the people organized for the defense of the whole population."
Chavez also spoke about the implementation of socialism in the country and the required constitutional changes, as well as the inclusion of communal power as one of the fundamental powers of the state, referring to the neighborhood organizations known as Communal Councils created under his government.
Without giving more details, the president said the constitutional reform could include the creation of communal power "as one of the powers of the state, in order to go beyond the classic conception of the liberal state, of Montesquieu."
Chavez assured the move towards a socialist economy saying that it would be essential to change certain articles of the 1999 constitution, such as article 112 that talks about the production model. According to Chavez, this article is capitalist and must be changed in order to deepen and accelerate the changes in property relations in Venezuela.
"Productive private property that works in function of the satisfaction of the necessities of the country, in line with the constitution and the laws, will be able to coexist with this project," he said. "That will depend on the behavior of the private sectors of the economy."
The president criticized the current constitution, created under Chavez in 1999 through a constitutional assembly, explaining that it "was born in the middle of a storm," and that many pieces of the old order "remained infiltrated" in the new constitution.
As an example Chavez said the Bolivarian Constitution establishes that the government must promote private initiative, "but the social economy doesn’t appear, and much less socialism," he said.
The idea, according to Chavez, is that the Communal Councils and workers can move to take possession of the means of production as is required to satisfy their needs. The President invited the planning committee as well as state and private companies, to "come with us and work to make a reality out of the concept of communal property."