Caracas, November 1,
2007 (venezuelanalysis.com) – After receiving the modified project of
constitutional reform, which includes an additional 36 changes proposed by the
National Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, announced Wednesday that
the constitutional reform should be voted on in separate blocs, rather than one
"I believe that we can
present it in various blocs, as indicated in the constitution. I believe that
the original proposal should be voted on in one bloc" and the other articles
added by the National Assembly, "could form a second or third bloc," Chavez
said during a speech at the seventh anniversary of the National Women's
Institute, celebrated yesterday at the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas.
National Assembly President
Cilia Flores explained to the National Assembly yesterday how the proposed
changes could be divided into blocs for the referendum.
"We have a procedure
that is established in the Constitution in article 343, that establishes that
you can vote separately for a third of the proposed project of reform, in this
case, we could vote on up to 23 articles separately."
Flores continued, "We would maintain the bloc
proposed by President Chavez, to which would be added 13 articles, that would
be two thirds that cannot be separated, as established in article 343. So there
would be 46 articles in one bloc, including the contents of the 33 proposal of
the president, and another 23 articles that can be voted on in bloc, or in 2
blocs or in 23."
party Justice First is challenging this interpretation of article 343 in the Supreme Court and
calling for the reforms to be voted on article by article, however the Supreme
Court has not yet ruled on this.
groups are calling for the referendum to be postponed or suspended altogether
and have threatened the National Electoral Council (CNE), saying that if it
continues preparing for the referendum this would be an "incitement to the
people." However, the law requires the CNE to hold a referendum within thirty
days of receiving the proposal, which will be submitted on November 2.
According to the
results of a poll carried out over the period September 20-30 by the Venezuelan
Institute for Data Analysis (IVAD) showed that 50.6% of Venezuelans think the
reforms proposed by President Chavez are necessary, while 36.0% think they are
not. However, this poll was prior to the addition of a further 36 changes
proposed by the National Assembly.
Another poll by
Datanalisis, indicates that Venezuelans are divided roughly equally for and
against the reforms. However, it shows that while the majority of those who
support the reforms will participate in the referendum on December 2, the
majority of those who oppose the reforms will abstain.
remain divided over what strategy to adopt in the face of the referendum, with
some calling for a ‘No' vote and others calling for a boycott.
More radical sectors,
such as Hermann Escarrá from the National Resistance Command have called for the
reforms to be stopped, "through all means possible," prompting fears among some
Venezuelans of an attempted repeat of the April 11 military coup against Chavez
According to the
October 24 edition of Diario VEA, senior United States officials met with
Venezuelan opposition groups in Prague between October 7 and 9 to demand that
the Venezuelan opposition ask the Supreme Court to consider the proposed
reforms as a "constitutional coup" and that it should call for "social
upheaval, organize acts of economic sabotage against infrastructure, destroy
the food transport and delivery chain … and organize a military coup with all
means possible, including bloodshed by means of paramilitary force."
This afternoon, 20-30,000
protesters from opposition students groups and political parties marched to the
CNE in Caracas
overturning trash cans, starting fires, throwing rocks, and clashing with police
and the National Guard. A delegation of 15 students were allowed into the CNE
then attempted to chain themselves to the stairwell, before being removed by
Chavez has called on
opponents of the reforms to participate in the referendum and refrain from the
use of violence.
"Those who don't agree
with the project, have the right not to. They should prepare themselves for
December 2 and try to convince people to vote against the reform," he said.
"If the majority of
Venezuelans say ‘No' to the proposal, then no is no, it is simply the voice of
the people…if the majority of the people approve the form then we will deepen
However, Chavez warned
it is, "the same sectors of April 11" that aim to "return to violence" in order
to avoid the referendum. He asked that these sectors reconsider their plans to
carry out violent actions. "I make a call to those who are not in agreement
with the reform, to go out into the streets and carry out your campaign through
the referendum, this is democracy, and afterward accept the results," said
Chavez has rejected opposition calls to postpone the referendum and
affirmed that campaigning would begin on November 2. Opposition groups are set
to march against the reforms in Caracas on November 3, while pro-Chavez groups
will launch their campaign for a ‘Yes' vote with a demonstration on November 4.