Mérida, 6th January 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) began the 2012 - 2013 legislative period yesterday, electing legislator Diosdado Cabello of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) as the Assembly’s new president and head of the body’s directive council.
Cabello, who is also vice-president of the PSUV, was elected by the 98 deputies of the pro-government socialist bloc, which consists of the 95 PSUV deputies and 3 deputies of the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV). The AN contains a total of 165 seats.
Upon being sworn into the post, Cabello declared that in the coming legislative session the Assembly “is going to approve laws that the revolutionary government needs for the construction of Bolivarian socialism,” adding on behalf of the socialist bloc that “we are very happy for this opportunity in which we commit ourselves to legislate with the people, and with the people as legislators”.
Two other figures of the PSUV, Aristobulo Isturiz and Blanca Eekhout, were re-elected as first and second vice presidents of the AN for the second year running.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is chairperson of the PSUV, congratulated the new appointments via his twitter account.
Both Cabello and Chavez also rendered tribute to the outgoing AN president, Fernando Soto Rojas (PSUV), with Cabello describing him as “an extraordinary man, patient, and a fighter”.
According to Venezuelan state news channel Venezolana de Television (VTV), during Rojas’ year as AN president, the Assembly saw the deepening of the legislative role of ordinary citizens.
In October 2011 the AN passed a new law protecting the rights of tenants, first introduced to the Assembly by a mass petition gathered by the tenants movement in a legal mechanism of direct democracy known in Venezuela as the “people legislator”.
The National Assembly passed a total of 37 laws in 2011. In his then capacity as AN president, Rojas informed the Assembly on 21st December last year that the laws “passed through a process of debate and workshops which took place throughout the country with the participation of a significant number of Venezuelans”.
The 67-member opposition bloc in the AN, the Roundtable for Democratic Unity (MUD), voted against the appointment of Cabello and other PSUV figures to the Assembly’s directive council.
Opposition legislator Alfonso Marquina attacked the record of the socialist majority in the AN, accusing them of “turning their backs on the country, with the single intention of perpetuating themselves in power”. He further charged the pro-government bloc with avoiding debate on crime and inflation, and advocated the need to “put public spending in order”.
In response, PSUV legislator Julio Chavez criticised the conduct of opposition deputies, stating that “during this year all we have seen from that side [the MUD opposition] is sabotages, obstructions, absences and above all a conspiratory attitude”.
For his part, Diosdado Cabello thanked the opposition for voting against him, adding that “it gives me great peace, because if you had voted for me, it would be a signal that something was wrong. It gives us great strength that you haven’t voted for us [the socialist candidates]”.
He concluded by stating that in this legislative session the AN “is going to impose the culture of life over the culture of death, which is what you counterrevolutionaries [of the MUD] represent”.