Media Center


BACKGROUND: Message from the Secretary General on the call for a Constituent Assembly in Venezuela

  May 2, 2017

Venezuela is suffering a serious alteration of its constitutional order by a regime that has violated the Constitution in all of its fundamental principles.

The violation of the Constitution is the Venezuelan problem. This same regime has now announced the end of the Constitution of Chavez and his legacy, beginning with a fraudulent call for a Constituent Assembly.

The regime has already violated the separation of powers and fundamental freedoms with the arbitrary detention and political imprisonment of its citizens, has violated the independence of the judiciary, and has violated the social rights of its people who have no access either to health care or to food.

Moreover, it has violated the principle of justice with the unpunished killing of peaceful demonstrators by security forces and paramilitary groups; has violated the electoral rights of its people, denying them the recall referendum and regional elections; has violated republican probity with its governors enriched by a system of unpunished corruption, has violated sovereignty over its natural resources, allowing and encouraging indiscriminate looting.

Now that authoritarian regime looks to consolidate its hold on power.

The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic says in its Article 347 that “The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly…”

The proposal formulated should contain the “ground rules,” that is, the details of the purpose and powers of the proposed Constituent Assembly, as well as its duration and the manner of its makeup and the election of its constituents. This can only be done in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, that is, through universal, direct and secret suffrage, which is the basis of the expression of the people´s sovereignty.

In Venezuela, the President of the Republic has the initiative to convene, but the convening power belongs to the electoral body of the country. The people are the only ones who can convene a Constituent Assembly, the only source of the original constituent power. The request for initiating a Constituent Assembly and the committee bases must be submitted to a referendum. The constituent process must always be approved by voters in order to be valid.

And the people must respond as a whole, as this means all voters: the holders of political rights in their entirety, and not just components or sectors thereof.

In that sense the proposal announced is erroneous, unconstitutional and fraudulent.

The formation of the Constituent Assembly only including the supposed sectoral representatives violates the fundamental principles of political equality.

A Constituent Assembly convened on the basis of political discrimination, violating the Constitution and made to fit the regime´s desires, is both in substance and form anti-democratic, because it has usurped the power of the people.

This proposal violates once more the most basic principles recognized in the Inter-American norms that govern us all, although there are those who unconstitutionally want to ignore them: the equality before the law of all citizens, the rights of the elected and electors, respect for the separation of powers, universal and secret suffrage, and the strengthening of political parties. In short: respect for the most basic rights of citizens.

Once more, as we have said repeatedly, as both the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights have highlighted, as the Venezuelan constitutionalists we have cited have said, the Venezuelan government is undermining respect for the most basic principles that regulate a democratic system and affect the human rights of its citizens.

And all of this has just one name under the law; a new coup d’état promoted from the presidency of the country.

The analysis presented by Venezuelan constitutionalists is more than forceful in this respect.

With the express declaration of Article 347 of the Constitution, which – following precisely the experience of the Constituent Assembly of 1999 – eliminated any possibility that an organ of the State could “convene” a Constituent Assembly: following on that article, only the people can do so through a referendum.

The dictators of Venezuela want to deliver a decisive blow by usurping the rights of the people and try to intimidate with violence and fraud a people that know freedom and that are struggling to regain it.

We must unite with this people to definitively ensure the right consecrated in the Inter-American Democratic Charter in its first article: the right to democracy.

Reference: S-007/17