By Luis Manuel Aguana
Every time I hear that “we have to defend the constitution of 1999” my body decomposes. Chávez came to power under the Constituent slogan, and instead of accelerating the necessary reform work that had been done on the 1961 Constitution, and that all the governments before 1999 did not have the political courage to apply, created an adefesio that gave him more power than the Presidents already had but without the institutional controls necessary to stop it. Now it turns out that we are clinging to the few salvageable things in the 1999 constitutional text as a lifeline, in order to get out of this dark tunnel that has been going on for 20 years.
Venezuela must somehow find its way to a constitutional change that straightens out the flaw in the 1999 Constitution. The military promotions to the High Command cannot continue to be in the hands of the President; nor can the representation of the States in Parliament continue to be non-existent, which is nothing other than the Senate Chamber, Venezuela being a Federal country, and this being the last alcabala for the approval of laws; nor can the President of the Republic continue to be the owner and lord of the National Public Treasury, who can dispose of Venezuelans’ money as he pleases. That power in the administration of public money should be distributed constitutionally to the Municipalities and the States together with the political autonomy, after having made a deep political-territorial reform in the whole country, modifying the distribution of the current Municipalities with the creation of new ones in the light of the current reality.
That, apart from being the least that the Constitution needs to be changed before even considering handing over power to anyone else, should be the beginning of a thorough discussion of a far-reaching change in the constitutional text that projects post socialist Castro-Chavista-Madurist Venezuela towards a new country, based on the work and production of the immense potential that each region of Venezuela has. And the time to begin to do so should be the second after the “cessation of usurpation”. Venezuela is already in ruins and the work of building a new country has not yet begun.
I can’t find a better time than now to start that discussion. And why? Because the state of destruction in which we will find the institutions after coming out of this plague, imposes its redirection towards modern forms of administration of the State. This reform process could begin to be proposed immediately, returning in some cases to the discussions that existed in the old Commission for the Reform of the State-COPRE with the intention of adjusting a future constitutional text to the new times, based on a new conception of the country. And that evaluation will be absolutely necessary, starting with the Venezuelan electoral system.
And I am not referring to the discussions of a government program that bears the name of “Plan País” but of a true restructuring and modernization of the Venezuelan State. Those discussions -if they have existed- have been left aside due to the urgency of getting out of the usurpation of Nicolás Maduro Moros as soon as possible and the subsequent imminence of a Transitional Government that guarantees through a clean electoral process the return of democracy. However, in the Original National Constituent Alliance-ANCO we have not forgotten the need for a Constituent process, although our priority at this moment is the “cessation of usurpation”, a sort of mantra that keeps the Venezuelan opposition trapped.
Hence our proposal to help and accelerate the “cessation of usurpation” is a Global Consultation (see Citizen Manifesto for the Global Consultation, in http://ancoficial.blogspot.com/2019/03/comunicado-anco-manifiesto-ciudadano.html) to mobilize the population inside and outside Venezuela democratically to demand humanitarian aid from the International Community guarded by foreign military forces and to order the “cessation of usurpation”, aid to which UN member states are morally and politically bound, based on the framework of the Principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
The President in Charge should not waste this opportunity to accompany the people in deciding their destiny through the mechanisms of citizen participation established in the Constitution. In this way, he would be acting with solid national support to make decisions as complex as immediately deciding to request a foreign military mission to accompany humanitarian aid that has not entered the country, and not to stop the flow of aid.
If such consultation and mobilization were successful, the President in charge would have the political floor sufficient to lead the Transition Process and from there decide to launch the initiative to debate the constitutional changes necessary in the re-institutionalization of the country so that they begin to govern Venezuela from the following electoral process. All this effort would be meaningless if Venezuela were not given the opportunity to truly enter the 21st century hand in hand with a new and true Social Pact, and not from the product of a Constituent that was not the full representation of the legitimate interests of all Venezuelans in 1999. Hence the need to rectify that mistake.
You think that’s outrageous? Well, we have to start thinking big without wasting time. The “socialism of the 21st century” has made us go back no less than 100 years in our development. And while it is true that the Constitution of 1999 should help us out of the dark tunnel, it will not help us to cover towards the future what we have institutionally regressed. This discussion should be initiated immediately after coming out of tyranny.
I am not proposing here that a constituent process be called the day after the “cessation of usurpation,” but that it be called during the transition period after the necessary changes have been made to the Venezuelan electoral system, which is the first to be intervened. An inclusive constituent process should be called urgently where a new Country Project is discussed and where Venezuela should go at the end of this nightmare. The new role of the Armed Forces after this nefarious period in the history of Venezuela, as well as the reconstruction of our main industry, must be discussed there. For ANCO it is vital to discuss the decentralization of power, as well as a new political-territorial distribution that brings the solution of problems closer to the citizens.
There will be many and gigantic enemies of this approach for endless reasons, most of them associated with the corruption that has prevailed in this regime, associated with their peers of the official opposition (for more information on this evil that we must face I recommend you listen to the interview with Alek Boyd, conducted on March 10, 2019, Todo lo que querías saber sobre la oposición y tenías miedo de preguntar, https://quemas.fr/2019/03/060-todo-lo-que-querias-saber-sobre-la-oposicion-y-tenias-miedo-de-preguntar-feat-alek-boyd/).
I still have the confidence that we will reach that transition, but even more that we will reach it with a clear sense of change in the future from the hands of people aware that it is necessary but not enough to “regain democracy and freedom” and make free elections, but to establish the necessary insurance not to lose them again.
Caracas, March 25, 2019