The National Assembly approved a proposed reform to the Mision Vivienda subsidized housing program brought forward by opposition deputy Julio Borges. The opposition sold the reform’s main goal as the granting of deeds to tenants living in subsidized housing units. Under the old law, tenants did not have any legal claim to the units in which they lived, effectively placing them in a position where they could be removed from their homes for any reason and at any time.
The law will now move to the National Assembly’s Permanent Committee for Administration and Services.
PSUV deputy Pedro Carreño said that the law was “unconstitutional”, but it is not clear what the PSUV’s official response will be.
Borges said that part of the reform will include conducting a thorough review of the Mision Vivienda program, including taking accurate measurements of the number of units built.
Opposition Deputy: Subsidized Homes “Not a Gift from Gov’t”
Opposition deputy Elimar Diaz spoke during today’s debate of the Mision VIvienda law reform, and pointed out that the subsidized homes are not gifts from the PSUV to Venezuelans: rather, they are a right independent of which party is in power.
Diaz spoke on the importance of granting tenants ownership of their homes, saying:
For mothers, [Mision Vivienda] is important because it’s the only way to guarantee a future for their children. [Now] they won’t be evicted from their homes for thinking differently. They aren’t gifts. Venezuelans now understand that they’re not a gift from the President: it’s a fundamental duty [of the government to provide the homes] and a right that Venezuelans have to live in a dignified home.
Diaz also took the opportunity to point out that the quality of some of the homes the government has build as part of the program is questionable. She provided the example of the Mision VIvienda housing complex in Ciudad Lozada, Zulia state, which she claims was built atop a derelict sewer system, which results in the building’s residents “living submerged in sewage”.
Maduro Calls for Protests Against Reform
Maduro was quick to react to the news from the National Assembly. Through his Twitter account, Maduro called on Venezuelans to protest the law:
I call on the people to mobilized against this capitalist law that tries to privatize the homes and habitats of Venezuelan families.
Committee Sets Sights on Corruption
Earlier in this year’s parliamentary session, the National Assembly appointed opposition deputy Freddy Guevara the head of an accountability committee tasked with investigating corruption and embezzlement by the government. The committee has met twice so far, and has met fierce opposition from PSUV deputies who have challenged several of the committee’s attempts to carry out its mandate.
PSUV deputy Pedro Carreño opposed a proposal by the committee to expedite the process by which citizens can denounce cases of corruption. The current system requires the aid of a lawyer, who has the power to decide whether or not to bring the complaint forward at all. The committee’s vice-president, deputy Ismael Garcia, explained:
The rules say that to bring a complaint forward the individual has to have help from a lawyer (…) who is the one who decides the [merit of the complaint]. If the lawyer says “no’, then the complaint is not brought forward.
Carreño argued that Carreño, since it helped insure that no frivolous complaints were made. PSUV deputy Hugo Carvajal pointed out that “97 or 98” out of every 100 corruption complaints brought forward by individuals turn out to be false.
In response to the committee’s continued insistence on carrying out its task, the PSUV deputies repeated what has become one of their mantras in the opposition-controlled legislative session: they threatened to take any action the committee took to the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, the nation’s top court. On the threats, Guevara said:
[The PSUV] are like a child throwing a tantrum that tells on you with their mom. They’re a [group of elites] who hide under the skirts of the institutions in order to keep their interests safe, so that we can’t discover their yachts and Swiss bank accounts.
Committee Looks to Account for $450 Million In Ghost Project
The PSUV is also opposing a proposal to summon Trujillo state governor Henry Rangel Silva to the National Assembly to explain where the $450 million his state received to build an aqueduct that was never constructed went.
According to deputy Conrado Perez, the national government announced in 2010 that $450 million had been set aside for the Trujillo aqueduct project, with Maduro promising to add another Bs. 33 million to the project during his presidential campaign in 2013. The aqueduct was never built, and it’s not clear where the money allocated to the project went.
Guevera referenced a report published earlier this week by Transparency International which places Venezuela as the most corrupt country in Latin America (and one of the most corrupt on the planet), and summed up the past seventeen years of PSUV rule with once sentence:
The revolution worked only to steal in the name of the poor.
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