President Chavez Announces “Socialist Cities” and Constitutional Reforms

President Hugo Chavez made several new announcements during the inauguration of the first "socialist city" near Caracas during his Sunday TV program Aló Presidente, including a proposed constitutional reform that would allow for indefinite reelection of the president, as well as the regulation of the high salaries of some state employees.

Mérida, July 23, 2007 (— President Hugo Chavez made several new announcements during the inauguration of the first "socialist city" near Caracas during his Sunday TV program Aló Presidente, including a proposed constitutional reform that would allow for indefinite reelection of the president, as well as the regulation of the high salaries of some state employees.

"We are fighting against capitalist ideology with the liberating ideology of Bolivarian socialism," declared Chavez on national television. Accused of imposing his ideology on the military and schools, Chavez responded saying that "without a doubt" his government is fighting the "perverse capitalist ideology" that has been imposed on the nation.

"We are fighting against the imperialist ideology that they have sold to us, to our military, and that they bombed us with for 100 years, to make us think like the gringos, and to admire the gringos," said Chavez.

The declarations were made as Chavez inaugurated the construction of a so-called "socialist city" in Camino de Los Indios, just north of the capital city. These new socialist cities will be a part of what the Chavez government has called "The New Geometry of Power," which is one of the 5 "motors" of the revolution in his second full presidential term. According to Chavez, the "socialist cities" will be made up of small productive communes designed around family life, and not "at the service of capitalism," he said.

"The socialist cites are ecological cities for the family, for the people, not for machines nor for consumerism," he explained from the construction site where 800 of an eventual 4,280 apartments will be built.

The construction of these new cities forms a part of a new mission known as the Mission Villanueva, dedicated to attacking the housing crisis in Venezuela. The communities will be made up with people from the poor sectors that lack adequate housing. Whole communities will be moved from the slums into new communities made up of 4 to 5 story apartment buildings. According to reports, these "socialist cities" will be environmentally friendly, using sunlight for illumination of the buildings to save electricity.

Other "socialist cities" are also being built in the state of Miranda, and in the state of Zulia. Communities will have cultural centers, medical centers, and universities among other social structures. According to the president, the objective of these communities is to offer ecological housing that emphasizes human and social value.

"It’s not like we are going to give this to some private companies so that they can make apartments and tiny streets that don’t even allow any green space, as if it were a place for machines to live," said Chavez.

Chavez approved Bs. 420.7 billion (US$ 195.7 million) for the housing sector, which will go towards housing subsidies and the construction of new housing in the "socialist cities."

Constitutional Reform

President Chavez also spoke about his proposal for a constitutional reform that would allow for an unlimited number of reelections of the president, among other things. Chavez said he would be presenting his proposal to the National Assembly in the next few days to be debated there and from there it must be voted on in a national referendum.

Besides removing the limits on the number of terms for the President of the Republic, Chavez said the reform would also make changes to the classic system of representative democracy, moving towards a participatory model of democracy in which people at the grassroots would play a more active role than in a traditional representative democracy.

"Now, with the constitutional reform that I hope the majority of Venezuelans will approve…one of the central ideas is my proposal to open, at the constitutional level, the roads to accelerate the transfer of power to the people," said Chavez.

In response to certain state governors who have said that the indefinite number of reelections should also apply to governors and mayors, Chavez rejected the idea. As stated last week by the president of the National Assembly, Celia Flores, Chavez affirmed that the possibility of reelection would be only for the president.

"I see in the press that the political parties Patria para Todos (PPT) and PODEMOS want reelection for the governors and mayors too," said Chavez. "No, no, no. If there is continuous reelection is has to be only for the President of the Republic."

Chavez’ justification for this was that allowing for mayors or governors to be indefinitely reelected could allow for "regional caudillos" who employ "methods foreign to the project for national integration."

Also included in the reform will be the transformation of the capital city into a Federal District as it once was. This reform would do away with the mayors of the municipalities of the capital city, some of which are in the hands of the political opposition.

The president also mentioned the need to regulate the salaries of some state officials who earn what he referred to as "mega-salaries." According to Chavez, some of the higher officials in state institutions and state companies have salaries that are wasting state revenues.

"They want to make 15 or 20 million Bolivars [$7-9,000 per month]. No! Those that want that can leave," said Chavez who went on to give the example of the old president of CANTV, the national telephone company, who received a salary of about US$ 14,000 per month.

"None of us can think we are going to have that salary. We have to fight against the ‘mega-salaries’," he said.

Among other statements, the president announced the beginning of the 4th phase of the national health program Barrio Adentro. According to the president, this stage will include the construction of new hospitals around the country to be finished by 2010.

All of these programs make up the socialist revolution being carried forward by President Chavez. He assured yesterday that this project is not "Marxist-Leninist," but simply "socialist, Bolivarian, and revolutionary." Although Chavez said he respects the theory of Karl Marx and his "contribution to humanity," Chavez assured that he is not a Marxist and that the situation in the times of Marx was "very different from the savage capitalism of our time."

The new United Socialist Party (PSUV) that is being debated in community assemblies around the country will be the official political party of the Bolivarian Revolution and, according to Chavez, will be the fundamental building block of the revolution. Chavez made a call to the people to participate in the formation process being carried out across the country.

"This is the onset of something where we all have to contribute with energy," he said. "I keep trying to motivate [the people] to get involved in the great political party of the 21st Century, the PSUV."