100,000 Committees to Campaign for Amendment to Venezuela’s Constitution

Over the weekend committees from various sectors of society swore to campaign hard to win the approval by public vote of the amendment to the constitution to get rid of the two-term limit on all elected offices in Venezuela.
The swearing in ceremony in Caracas on Saturday. (Zafra Miriam)

Mérida, January 19, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Over the weekend committees from various sectors of society swore to campaign hard to win the approval by public vote of the amendment to the constitution to get rid of the two-term limit on all elected offices in Venezuela.

Over 20,000 people attended the swearing in of the heads of logistical and operational patrols of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in Caracas on Saturday.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez stated at the event that there are now about 100,000 such “Yes committees” organized, or in formation, to campaign in favor of changing the 5 articles of constitution so that all popularly elected positions are not limited to two terms.

The committees are organized along various fronts and community lines, including women, youth, workers, communal councils, and the PSUV.

On Sunday 10,000 transport workers, members of an estimated 9,800 committees nationwide, vowed to work hard for the adoption of the constitutional amendment in a rally in Caracas. The vice president of the PSUV, Aristobulo Isturiz led the vow taking.

“The strength of the people is in unity…it’s the leaders who unite us. Chavez unites the people, makes the people a force. Chavez asked us for unity and here we have the Transport Workers Front,” Isturiz said, adding that unity in the sector was also important in the struggle against the old vices that exist there and against the corrupt trade union bureaucrats and opportunists in order to construct an alternative transport force distinct from the pre-Chavez style.

He said each transport committee should integrate itself with the voting center based patrols, according to region.

The rally followed a large campaign caravan that left from various parts of Caracas and covered many of the main roads of the city.  Isturiz said 1,000 vehicles had participated, 500 representing transport workers from the east, and 500 from the west.

The caravan ended in the Waraira Repano National Park lookout, where the youth from the Francisco de Miranda Front had planted 500 trees, following the burning of a part of the park by opposition youth on January 14.

The Cultural Front for the Constitutional Amendment also held an event in Caracas. The group is made up of 1,160 “yes” committees across the country, according to the minister for culture, Hector Soto.

Soto said the campaign could be explained through dance and music and said, “It’s not good enough to put ‘yes’ on all the walls, its necessary to talk with people.”

Finally, President Chavez attended an event of the National Women’s “Yes” Front in Carabobo state, where around 500 women from across the country marched, representing 20,000 women who make up the Front. Each woman in the Front is aiming to get 30 people to vote “yes.”

At the PSUV event on Saturday Chavez emphasized the importance of political organization to achieve the consolidation of the revolutionary process and the victory of the “yes” vote.

“If there is any social process that requires discipline…it’s the revolution. Here you can’t go about doing any old thing, there are norms, a doctrine, and a tactic,” he said.

A simulation of the voting day by the logistical and operational patrols is planned for January 31, starting at 3 am with the playing of a wake-up trumpet call, as happens with every voting day. Chavez said the day will serve to evaluate the organizational functioning of the patrols to get out the vote.

Opposition campaign

The oppositional Democratic Action party (AD) formalized its participation in the “No” block in the National Electoral Council (CNE) on Saturday. The general secretary of AD, Henry Ramos, criticized the amendment question as “deceptive” and “editorial nonsense.” The until recently pro-Chávez social democratic “We Can” Party (Podemos) also formalized its participation the “No” block today.

A New Era, Justice First, Brave People Alliance, The Platform, and others also form the “No” Block, while the PSUV, Tupamaros, Revolutionary Bastion Movement, Organized Socialists in Venezuela, Independents for the National Community, and New Revolutionary Path organizations have registered for the “Yes” block.  Registration is until Wednesday.

Jonathan Patti, member of the Mirandan Volunteers for “No” criticized the announcement by the CNE that they would be extending the voting time until 6pm, saying it was “against the democratic principles of Venezuelans” because according to the constitution electoral rules can’t be changed less than 6 months before the voting process.

Patti said the Mirandan Volunteers for “No” is made up of youth from various political parties, as well as workers.

“We’ll be visiting house by house to spread the democratic message,” he said.