Our comrades in Venezuela are today going to the polls, the media in the west are of course going on about how Chavez is an evil dictator and so on and so forth, and this move is only to centralise power in his hands because it abolishes term limits (well guess what we don't have term limits here yet and the media don't complain about that).
So let's actually look at what is contained within these reforms.
The question posed in the polls is: "Are you in agreement with the approval of the constitutional reform project, passed by the National Assembly, with the participation of the people, and based in the initiative of President Hugo Chavez, with its respective titles, chapters, and transitional, derogative, and final dispositions, distributed in the following blocks?"
Let's go to Section 3 which I believe is the most progressive for the people of Venezuela.
Art. 64 - Lowers the minimum voting age from 18 to 16 years.
We see an increase in democracy thanks to the lowering of the voting age.
Art. 67 - Requires candidates for elected office to be set up in accordance with gender parity, reverses the prohibition against state financing of campaigns and parties, and prohibits foreign funding of political activity.
Good stops allowing external influences like the CIA to fund political parties within Venezuela. Increases democracy.
Art. 70 - Establishes that councils of popular power (of communities, workers, students, farmers, fishers, youth, women, etc.) are one of the main means for citizen participation in the government.
Good, gets people active in politics, so power will eventually rest within these workers' councils.
Art. 87 - Creates a social security fund for the self-employed, in order to guarantee them a pension, vacation pay, sick pay, etc.
Good, helps self-employed people.
Art. 90 - Reduction of the workweek from 44 hours to 36.
Good, lets people enjoy life.
Art. 98 - Guarantees freedom for cultural creations, but without guaranteeing intellectual property.
Good, intellectual property rights are insanely over the top these days.
Art. 100 - Recognition of Venezuelans of African descent, as part of Venezuelan culture to protect and promote (in addition to indigenous and European culture).
Good, it is important that this is in the constitution.
Art. 103 - Right to a free education expanded from high school to university.
Funny, if Venezuela can afford free university education for everybody, why can't we?
Art. 112 - The state will promote a diversified and independent economic model, in which the interests of the community prevail over individual interests and that guarantee the social and material needs of the people. The state is no longer obliged to promote private enterprise.
Art. 113 - Monopolies are prohibited instead of merely being "not allowed." The state has the right to "reserve" the exploitation of natural resources or provision of services that are considered by the constitution or by a separate law to be strategic to the nation. Concessions granted to private parties must provide adequate benefits to the public.
Art. 115 - Introduces new forms of property, in addition to private property. The new forms are (1) public property, belonging to state bodies, (2) direct and indirect social property, belonging to the society in general, where indirect social property is administered by the state and direct is administered by particular communities, (3) collective property, which belongs to particular groups, (4) mixed property, which can be a combination of ownership of any of the previous five forms.
Good, more over here. There are some I don't agree with and some that don't go far enough, but by enlarge this is an extremely progressive step forward. The bias of the media has been noted, and their opposition to a better life for the workers will be remembered. But well, we all knew that anyway.