October 10, 2007
The principal enemy to the project of constitutional reform is abstention,
assured Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as he swore in the Central Command of
the constitutional reform campaign, dubbed "Campaign Zamora," in the Municipal
Theatre in Caracas
yesterday. Meanwhile, the National Assembly initiated its third and final
discussion of the reform proposal.
The object of Campaign Zamora, so named after a 19th
century Venezuelan revolutionary fighter, said Chavez, "is to win the
referendum to approve the ‘roja, rojita' [‘red, really red' constitution] in a
magnificent, resounding and historical manner."
"It is necessary to go out and vote on December 2 and defeat
abstention. It is necessary to lower the abstention that happened in 1999 when
we approved the Bolivarian Constitution," he said.
The Central Command of Campaign Zamora sworn in during the ceremony
includes; Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez, National Assembly Deputy Carlos
Escarrá, Telesur president Andrés
Izarra, Governor of Miranda state Diosdado Cabello, Deputy Gabriela Ramírez,
Minister of Foreign Relations Nicolás Maduro, Minister for Communication and
Information William Lara, vice-Minister for Communication and Information,
Helena Salcedo and Deputy Dario Vivas.
"We go towards another battle," Chavez said as he exhorted
those present to campaign for "YES" in the referendum. "We are warriors against
"I will dedicate, until the last second of my life, the most
intense battle for the Venezuelan people," he added.
The "ferocious attack" on the project of constitutional
reform by some sectors of the right in Venezuela, Chavez explained,
"corresponds to the interests of the oligarchy."
"They argue that the [constitutional reform] is an attack on
private property. But in reality it is an attack on their monopolies," he said.
He emphasized that these economic groups were the owners of Venezuela,
because they were the dominant political class, "They never spoke of the
people, only the interests of their civil society, their private organizations.
They are exclusive and racist."
The private sector that only wants to exploit the workers
will not have the capacity in a socialist Venezuela Chavez said, however he
invited "honest businesses" that, "have the will," to work together with the
government for the interests of the country.
Chavez also announced that the swearing in of the Expanded Command
for the Zamora Campaign would take place on the 17th of October.
National Assembly in Final
Debate on Constitutional Reform
As the National Assembly initiated its third and final discussion
of the constitutional reform, article by article, yesterday, President of the
National Assembly, Cilia Flores, presented a balance sheet of the work of the
parliament since Chavez first presented the project of constitutional reforms
on August 15.
The National Assembly has held 9,020 public consultations
over the constitutional reform, through "parliaments of the streets," workshops,
and forums "in all states and municipalities," Flores
Of these, 44% involved people in an individual capacity and
56% involved collective representations by workers organizations, campesino
groups, political parties, businesses, the military, and various social
organizations, she said.
According to Flores the
articles that generated the most public interest were workers rights, including
the proposal for a 6-hour day, as well as social rights in the proposed changes
to articles 87 and 90, with 27% of those participating elaborating on this
A further 19% referred to the new geometry of power and
popular participation, 16% to economic rights, 11% prioritized the issue of
presidential reelection and presidential powers, 8% contributed on the proposed
changes to the structure of the Armed Forces and 7% on the issue of food
In addition, the National Assembly Joint Commission on the
constitutional reform has also received 210 individual speakers, including
members of Venezuelan opposition parties, Democratic Action, Justice First, and
A New Time.
The Joint Commission set up to coordinate the National
Assembly debate on the constitutional reforms has as its basis the proposed changes
to 33 articles that Chavez presented on August 15. However, Flores
said that proposals for changes to all articles would be taken into
Últimas Noticias reported that Flores
moved an amendment to article 21 yesterday, to remove any aspect of discrimination
on the basis of gender and sexual orientation and to allow for same sex
marriage. However, discussion on that proposal was deferred.
The final presentation by the Joint Commission to the
National Assembly will take place on October 15. Flores
affirmed the National Assembly would continue receiving proposals from "any
sector", until the last moment.
The constitutional reform proposal is scheduled to be put to
a nation-wide referendum on December 2nd.