- 1999 Constitution grants importance to the community. Nevertheless, the President tries to reduce its role due to the resistance of part of the community and of some Non Government Organizations (ONG).
- National Electoral Council (CNE) assumes functions granted to the citizens as center of the electoral process, by the Constitution, the Electoral Authority Organic Law (LOPE) and the Voting and Political Participation Organic Law (LOSPP).
- Legislature (AN) substitutes the community in selecting candidates to CNE’s rectors, through a Nominations Committee of which 11 of its 21 members are representatives of the Legislature.
- Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) greatly reduces the functions conferred by the Constitution to the community.
- Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) construes article 70 of the Constitution restricting the participation of the community.
1. Unlike the Constitution of 1961, which not even mentioned the civil society, the new Constitution of 1999 grants great preeminence to same. Notwithstanding, in practice, the Government of President Chávez Frías aims to reduce the role of society and the participation of the people, given the great resistance to its plans, which has been exercised until now by some non-government organizations and by a great portion of the civil society.
2. The "Consejo Nacional Electoral" (CNE) (the National Electoral Council), for example, has been assuming tasks, which the Constitution, the "Ley Orgánica del Poder Electoral" (the Electoral Authority Organic Law) and the "Ley Orgánica del Sufragio y Participación Política" (Voting and Political Participation Organic Law) had reserved to the civil society as center of the electoral process; among others, the designation of officers to manage the electoral process: polling-place members, regional electoral boards and directive positions in the "CNE".
3. The Legislature has backed up this task by replacing the civil society (11 members of the Legislature and 10 members of the civil society integrate the Nominations Committee) in selecting the candidates for rectors of the "CNE", even in disregard of a decision of the "TSJ" (Supreme Court of Justice), which states that
political parties are not a part of the civil society.
4. The most aggressive position regarding the intention to weaken the role of the civil society and of the people, is that taken by the "TSJ" (Supreme Court of Justice), by reducing, through several decisions,
the functions attributed by the Constitution to the civil society.
5. From the Constitutional Court of the "TSJ", the most important decisions in restricting the attributions of the civil society are:
- Nº 656, file Nº 00-1728, dated June 30 th , 2000 , in the case of the "Defensoría del Pueblo" (Counsel for the Defense of the People) against the "Comisión Legislativa Nacional" (National Legislative Commission).
- Nº 1050, File Nº 00-2378, dated August 23 rd , 2000 , in the case of the "habeas data" of the "Red de Veedores" (Supervisors' System).
- Nº 1395, File No. 00-1901, dated November 21, 2000 , in the case of the Governors against the Ministry of Finance.
6. An element in common among the aforementioned decisions is the narrow interpretation of Article 70 of the Constitution, which aims to restrict the people's participation. The Constitutional Court of the "TSJ", in its judgments, does not consider a great amount of institutions as part of the civil society and, in consequence, such institutions cannot exercise the functions conferred upon them by the Constitution. In doing so, such Constitutional Court prepares the scenery so that, in the future, practically no organization may be considered as civil society. In other words, the former decisions, even though they do not restrain the possibility to act or to constitute non-government organizations nor do they restrain the civil society from organizing itself or from obtaining internal or external financing, they limit its possibilities to perform activities attributed by the Constitution in its condition of civil society.
June 13th, 2006, the National Assembly (AN) -in its first debate-
passed the project for the
International Cooperation Law, which project provides the State
regulation of the functioning of national and international non-government
organizations (ONG’s). If such project is approved, the creation of an
International Cooperation and Assistance Fund is contemplated for the
financing of the Republic’s activities regarding external cooperation, as
well as the Integrated System for the Registry of Non-government
Organizations (ONG’s), as (a) part of the organ for international
cooperation (Art. 17). The above has an alarming significance, given that
the obligation to be registered in such registry in order to function as an
ONG and to receive economical aid would be an indispensable requirement
(See news resume)