Venezuela: 14 years with a constitution of the people

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On this day 14 years ago Venezuelan people approved a new constitution. The 1999 constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which currently provides the highest legal framework currently for this South-American country, laid the foundation for the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

This new constitution was voted into place in a referendum where more than 71% of the electorate chose to approve to approve it and, in so doing, to repeal the charter of 1961 simultaneously.

This was the first time that the Venezuelan people had a constitution they could properly call their own: the process began with a voting in April 1999 in which the electorate approved the call for the creation of a constitutional assembly, followed by an national election of the members of this assembly in June of the same year.

The people were heavily involved throughout the drafting of the new charter—discussing on the street the articles of the new legal instrument and in , giving birth to a unique and a clear example of people´s participation for the world.

The new charter significantly expanded social and political rights of Venezuelans while also establishing specific parameters to safeguard national sovereignty and the right to exploit their own natural resources.

The 1999 constitution also recognized the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, acknowledging their languages ​​as official languages, and promoted the need for bilingual schools in aboriginal territories.

It was precisely at this point that the country adopted the name of ‘Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’. The new constitution also establish an expansion to the doctrine of separation of powers for presidential republics, creating two innovative and autonomous power to be added to the triad of executive, legislative, and judiciary: the electoral and moral power

It is because of its heavy focus on social justice that the Venezuelan people took to the streets in order to defend the Constitution and the Comandante Chavez after the 2002 coup d’état carried out by the right—a coup in which Venezuela saw its freely and democratically elected constitution abolished, the separation of powers as well as the powers themselves dissolved, and the name of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela forcefully changed.

By Hugo Chavez Peoples’ Defense Front