1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela


1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela
Asamblea Nacional Constituyente
Type
Type Constituent Assembly
Leadership
President Luis Miquilena
Members 131 asambleistas
Meeting place
Caracas, Venezuela
Website
[1]

The 1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, National Constituent Assembly) was a constitutional convention held in Venezuela in 1999 to draft a new Constitution of Venezuela. The Assembly was endorsed by a referendum in April 1999 which enabled Constituent Assembly elections in July 1999. Three seats were reserved for indigenous delegates in the 131-member constitutional assembly,[1] and two additional indigenous delegates won unreserved seats in the assembly elections.[2]

The constitution was later endorsed by the Venezuelan constitutional referendum, December 1999, and new presidential and parliamentary elections were held under the new constitution in July 2000.

Contents

Precedents

Chávez then called for a public referendum - something virtually unknown in Venezuela at the time - which he hoped would support his plans to form a constitutional assembly, composed of representatives from across Venezuela, as well as from indigenous tribal groups, which would be able to rewrite the nation's constitution. The referendum went ahead on 25 April 1999, and was an overwhelming success for Chávez, with 88% of voters supporting the proposal.[3][4] Following this, Chávez called for an election to take place on 25 July, in which the members of the constitutional assembly would be voted into power, and as Bart Jones commented, "The stakes were high. Chávez believed a constitutional assembly controlled by his supporters was the major breakthrough the country needed to end the traditional parties' stronghold on power. The oligarchy, the traditional parties, and much of the media feared it was the final step to establishing a one-man dictatorship."[5]

Of the 1,171 candidates standing for election to the assembly, over 900 of them were opponents of Chávez, but despite this, his supporters won another overwhelming electoral victory, taking 125 seats (95% of the total), including all of those belonging to indigenous tribal groups, whereas the opposition were voted into only 6 seats.[3][6]

Setting up the assembly

The Assembly convened 3 August. 12 August 1999, the new constitutional assembly voted to give themselves the power to abolish government institutions and to dismiss officials who were perceived as being corrupt or operating only in their own interests. As Jones noted, "It was a breathtaking move. To its supporters, it could force reforms that had been blocked for years by corrupt politicians and judicial authorities. To its critics, it was an overreach of power and a threat to democracy. The stage was set for a confrontation with the Supreme Court."[7] Indeed, Chávez and his supporters had discussed dissolving both the Supreme Court and the Congress, each of which they believed to be entirely controlled by the oligarchy and the opponents of the Bolivarian movement. The constitutional assembly had the power to perform such an action, and had already fired almost sixty judges whom it identified as being involved in corruption.[8]

The new constitution included increased protections for indigenous peoples and women, and established the rights of the public to education, housing, healthcare and food. It added new environmental protections, and increased requirements for government transparency. It increased the presidential term from five to six years, allowed people to recall presidents by referendum, and added a new presidential two-term limit. It converted the bicameral legislature which consisted of a Congress with both a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies into a unicameral one that consisted only of a National Assembly.[9][10][11] As a part of the new constitution, the country, which was then officially known as the Republic of Venezuela, was renamed the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (República Bolivariana de Venezuela) at Chávez's request, thereby reflecting the government's ideology of Bolivarianism.[6]

The resulting 1999 Venezuelan Constitution was approved by referendum in December 1999, with the support of nearly 80% of the population.[12]

Indigenous rights

The indigenous peoples of Venezuela make up only around 1.5% of the population nationwide, though the proportion is nearly 50% in Amazonas state.[13] Prior to the creation of the 1999 constitution, legal rights for indigenous peoples were increasingly lagging behind other Latin American countries, which were progressively enshrining a common set of indigenous collective rights in their national constitutions.[14] The 1961 constitution had actually been a step backward from the 1947 constitution, and the indigenous rights law foreseen in it languished for a decade, unpassed by 1999.[14]

Ultimately the constitutional process produced "the region's most progressive indigenous rights regime".[15] Innovations included Article 125's guarantee of political representation at all levels of government, and Article 124's prohibition on "the registration of patents related to indigenous genetic resources or intellectual property associated with indigenous knowledge."[15] The new constitution followed the example of Colombia in reserving parliamentary seats for indigenous delegates (three in Venezuela's National Assembly); and it was the first Latin American constitution to reserve indigenous seats in state assemblies and municipal councils in districts with indigenous population.[16]

Notable Assembly members

References

  1. ^ Van Cott (2003:55)
  2. ^ Van Cott (2003:56)
  3. ^ a b Marcano and Tyszka 2007. p. 130.
  4. ^ Jones 2007. p. 238.
  5. ^ Jones 2007. p. 239.
  6. ^ a b Jones 2007. p. 240.
  7. ^ Jones 2007. p. 241.
  8. ^ Jones 2007. pp. 245-246.
  9. ^ Wilpert 2007. pp. 31-41.
  10. ^ "Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela". Embassy of Venezuela in the US. 2000. http://www.embavenez-us.org/constitution/intro.htm. Retrieved 30 December 2006. 
  11. ^ Gregory Wilpert (August 27, 2003). "Venezuela's New Constitution". Venezuela Analysis. http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/70. 
  12. ^ Kozloff 2006. p. 94.
  13. ^ Van Cott (2003:52)
  14. ^ a b Van Cott (2003), "Andean Indigenous Movements and Constitutional Transformation: Venezuela in Comparative Perspective", Latin American Perspectives 30(1), p51
  15. ^ a b Van Cott (2003:63)
  16. ^ Van Cott (2003:65)



Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • National Assembly of Venezuela — National Assembly Asamblea Nacional Type Type Unicameral …   Wikipedia

  • Venezuela — For other uses, see Venezuela (disambiguation). Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela[1] República Bolivariana de Venezuela (Spanish) …   Wikipedia

  • Venezuela — Venezuelan, adj., n. /ven euh zway leuh, zwee /; Sp. /be ne swe lah/, n. a republic in N South America. 22,396,407; 352,143 sq. mi. (912,050 sq. km). Cap.: Caracas. * * * Venezuela Introduction Venezuela Background: Venezuela was one of the three …   Universalium

  • Venezuela — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::Venezuela <p></p> Background: <p></p> Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and New… …   The World Factbook

  • List of constituent assemblies — This is a list of constituent assemblies:; (French) National Constituent Assembly : Formed in 1789 during the French Revolution.; Norwegian Constituent Assembly : adopted the current Constitution of Norway in 1814.; National Congress of Belgium:… …   Wikipedia

  • Constitution of Venezuela — Venezuela Geography States Cities Lake Maracaibo Caracas Mara …   Wikipedia

  • Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez — Marisabel Rodríguez First Lady of Venezuela In office 1999–2003 Preceded by Alicia Pietri de Caldera Succeeded by María Gabriela Chávez Colmenares Personal details …   Wikipedia

  • South America's Indigenous Peoples — ▪ 2000 by Alcida Rita Ramos More than 350 indigenous groups with a population totaling over 18 million people inhabit South America. Some of these groups still struggle for their physical survival, but many others have begun to demand ethnic… …   Universalium

  • 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis — Honduras This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Honduras Constitution President (List) …   Wikipedia

  • Hugo Chávez — This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Chávez and the second or maternal family name is Frías. Hugo Chávez …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.