Venezuela Launches Massive Plan to Debate Constitutional Reform Proposal

A massive debate in all areas of Venezuelan society called by President Hugo Chavez has begun over his proposed constitutional reforms. The text of Chavez's proposed changes are being distributed in hard copy and CD format, house by house.

Caracas, August 20, 2007 ( – A massive debate in all areas of Venezuelan society called by President Hugo Chavez has begun over his proposed constitutional reforms. The text of Chavez's proposed changes are being distributed in hard copy and CD format, house by house.

In order to facilitate discussion of the proposed reforms, the National Assembly has also launched the National Plan to Debate the Constitutional Reform. The plan states the objective is “to activate a national political debate and the participation of the people in the process of constitutional reform aimed to strengthen revolutionary consciousness, stimulate popular mobilization, and guarantee the sovereign expression of the majority on the occasion of the referendum.”

Four strategic lines of action are outlined in the plan, including activating “parliaments of the streets,” a massive information campaign, promotion of the campaign internationally, and “formation and orientation,” in order to encourage a “yes” vote.

The plan, which has already begun, aims for the formation of 80,000 promoters of the constitutional reforms, for which 200 initiators were chosen in late July by the National Assembly, with each initiator being responsible for the formation of 20 facilitators over the first two weeks of August, with a goal of reaching 4,000 facilitators. The distribution of initiators, facilitators, and promoters will be in accordance with the population density of every state, for example the Capital District will have 15 initiators, 308 facilitators and 6,155 promoters, whereas the state of Zulia there will be 36 initiators, 526 facilitators and 10,517 promoters. Forty-five percent of the promoters will be concentrated in the five most populous states of Venezuela: Zulia, Miranda, Lara, Carabobo, and the Capital District.

It is expected that the 80,000 promoters will emerge from the most active militants that have been participating in the battalions of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which is still under construction. National Assembly Deputy Francisco Ameliach argued last week that the socialist battalions of the PSUV should be a nucleus for the debate over the constitutional reform and that “this would be a motor for driving forward the battalions.”

In conjunction with the convocation of three extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly to debate the proposed reform, the plan proposes four stages of activities to be carried out over a period of seven weeks. The first stage over two weeks involves the formation of the facilitators and promoters, the beginning of the house-by-house campaign, with the goal of visiting and delivering the constitutional reform proposal to 5,400,000 households, with each promoter expected to visit six households per day over a period of eleven days. Also part of stage one is the opening of “interactive spaces” for people to discuss the proposals – today the National Assembly convoked an open meeting of diverse social organizations to debate the reforms today in the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas.

The second two-week stage involves the consultations of interest groups such as workers, students, businesses, campesinos, and professionals, among others, the convocation of community round-tables for consultation and debate, followed by the systematization of key themes, and the second extraordinary session of the National Assembly

The third stage, also to be carried out over two weeks, involves the presentation of the results and key themes to various municipal and state assemblies and the election of spokespeople from these assemblies to make presentations to the National Assembly.

The last stage involves the convocation of the National Assembly of Popular Power, where the elected spokespeople from state and municipal assemblies will deliver proposals and suggested changes to the National Assembly, followed by the third extraordinary session of the National Assembly and systematization and publication of the documents, including any changes to the proposals, which are then required to be put to a referendum.

The international campaign aims to provide information and encourage participation of Venezuelans living outside the country. The plan also calls for accredited diplomatic bodies, delegations of Venezuelans, social movements, parliamentary friendship groups, Bolivarian Circles, and other Venezuela solidarity organizations to hold activities such as forums in universities and media and information campaigns about the reforms.