Venezuelan Governing Party Pledges to Accelerate Legislative Agenda

Governing party leader William Lara said that the Legislature will approve twelve new judges for the Supreme Court, pass the law for social responsibility in broadcasting, and the budget before the legislative session ends in December.

Caracas, November 9, 2004—Yesterday, the tactical unit of the government party, MVR, told their parliamentary block to designate new judges to the Supreme Court by the end of this year, said William Lara, the national director of the MVR.

Other legislative changes include the acceleration in the adoption of the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, which is a government proposal to establish rules for the Venezuelan broadcasting industry.  Lara also assured that the budget and debt laws for 2005 will be passed before the period of sessions of the National Assembly ends on December 15.

With 18 articles of the new law of Radio and Television still to be reviewed in the second reading, the budget not yet finalized, and the debt law still to be approved, Lara expressed his confidence that everything will be completed on time.

In order to make changes to the judicial system, which includes the designation of twelve new judges, Lara referred to the Law of the Supreme Court, which specifies that a two thirds majority of the Assembly (or 110 votes) is required. If the two-thirds majority is not reached after three attempts, it proceeds to a fourth and final debate, where a simple majority of 84 votes is required for approval.  The government’s coalition has 87 representatives in the Assembly, out of a total of 165.

Lara has warned that if the opposition coalition attempts to “impose a minority dictatorship” by preventing votes through parliamentary maneuvers, the pro-government coalition is prepared to have marathon 24-hour sessions to approve the proposed laws by the end of the year.

Investigations of Mormon activity in Venezuela

Lara also announced a proposal by the MVR in the National Assembly to begin an investigation into the activities of Mormon groups in Caracas that in their missionary work are allegedly promoting positions against the national government, following the directives of international companies.

The U.S. State Department is monitoring Mormon complaints of harassment in Venezuela dating back to 2002, when Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claimed that the National Guard harassed them conducting unnecessary strip searches and intimidating them.

Purpose of NED visit to Venezuela rejected by government party, MVR

With respect to the visit of directors of the U.S. government funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to the country, Lara rejected the purpose of their visit, which, according to him, was to intervene in the investigation of María Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz, both leading members of the Venezuelan opposition NGO, Sumate, who are being charged with undermining Venezuela’s constitutional order by constructing a parallel electoral council.

The NED has provided Sumate and numerous other Venezuelan opposition groups over $1 million dollars per year over the past five years.