Venezuelan National Assembly Passes New Caracas Administration Law

On Tuesday the Venezuelan National Assembly passed
the special Law of Administration of the Capital which changes administrative
responsibility and budgeting for a part of Caracas. The opposition have
categorized the law as further centralization and requested a referendum around
it.

By Tamara Pearson – Venezuelanalysis.com

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The municipalities and parishes of Caracas (Archive)
The municipalities and parishes of Caracas (Archive)
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Mérida, April 9th 2009
(Venezuelanalysis.com) -- On Tuesday the Venezuelan National Assembly passed
the special Law of Administration of the Capital which changes administrative
responsibility and budgeting for a part of Caracas. The opposition have
categorized the law as further centralization and requested a referendum around
it.

The law redefines what constitutes the Metropolitan
District of Caracas, which previously included the Capital District- Libertador
municipality, as well as four other municipalities from Miranda state, Baruta,
El Hatillo, Chacao and Sucre. Now, Libertador municipality will only be a
District Capital and the Metropolitan District will consist of the other four
municipalities, eliminating an administrative overlap.

National Assembly legislators argue that the point of
the law is to fill the vacuum left by the preceding National Assembly which did
not create a special law for Caracas.

Legislator Alfredo Morga said, "In almost all
countries of the world the capital is managed by a special law, and Caracas
didn't have one."

Other legislators said the law guarantees better
administration of the capital as well as the integrity of Miranda state, whilst
eradicating the duplicity and confusion over administrative functions that
occurred under the old structure.  They
also say the law provides for a fairer distribution of resources.

The District Capital will receive resources out of the
national budget, and overall should receive more resources than it is
currently. Legislators motivated the law saying the extra resources would help to
improve the quality of life of its population.

According to the National Assembly report on the law a
new level of administration will be created for the Capital District, which
will involve the appointment of a head of government. This will be chosen (and
could be removed) by the Venezuelan president, who is currently Hugo Chávez.
Law making for the Capital District will also fall under the national legislation
body, the National Assembly.

Discussion around the law began last week in the
assembly, and legislators also met with residents in various areas around
Caracas to discuss the law and seek input.

Opposition reaction

Antonio Ledezma of the opposition, who was elected
mayor of the Metropolitan District of Caracas in the regional elections last
November, presented his critiques of the law in the National Assembly, and
later told press the law represented a "final blow against decentralization."

Ledezma also described the governing position the law
creates as a "censor" to the pro-Chavez mayor of Libertador municipality, Jorge
Rodriguez.

Ledezma went to the National Electoral Council (CNE)
headquarters on Tuesday to solicit a consultative referendum on the law. He
says however, that the office was closed.

He has also called for protests
and military disobedience, saying the law leaves the Metropolitan District
without financial resources. Legislator Alberto Castelar said that the
Metropolitan District receives 10% of the revenue of the four municipalities
which make it up.