Constituent Assembly deputy Herman Escarra spoke to Spain’s EFE about the new constitution that the Assembly is drafting, and gave a few hints about some of the ways in which it will re-shape the Venezuelan state and society.
Escarra said that one of the likely changes to be introduced with the new constitution is the formalization of the militia has a branch of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces. While Chavez founded the Milicia Nacional Bolivariana (National Bolivarian Militia) in 2009, the organization does not exist in the current constitution.
The current constitution was drafted in 1999, and replaced the 1961 constitution. While the 1999 constitution contains many of the earliest tenets of Bolivarianism, the political philosophy started by Chavez has evolved since then to include principles that Maduro has attempted to entrench into the ruling PSUV party since he came to power in 2013.
Escarra also revealed the possibility that same sex marriage could be made legal in the new constitution, although he explained that the matter is still the subject of debate. Escarra said:
There are controversial topics, like same sex marriage and the structure of the family.
According to EFE, Escarra said that while he does not personally support same sex marriage, a majority of the Constituent Assembly appears to back entrenching it in the new constitution.
In early August, Escarra said that the Constituent Assembly was about 80% drafting the new constitution. Escarra believes that if all goes according to plan, the Constituent Assembly could begin debating the proposed constitution at the end of this year or in early 2019.
Escarra also said that another issue currently up for debate was the presidential term limit, which some deputies were working to push to seven years, up from the current six.
Turning to the matter of national security, Escarra revealed that the new constitution would likely contain harsher punishment for anyone deemed to be a traitor. He said:
This matter [treason] is going to be pursued more seriously, specially when it involves asking for military intervention and reaching agreements with foreign military actors who are antagonists to Venezuela.
The Constituent Assembly is made up of approximately 545 individuals, all of whom were hand-picked by the Maduro regime. The Assembly is tasked with creating a new constitution, and can rule by decree above all other institutions in the country, even the Supreme Court.
The Assembly was elected in July 30 of last year amidst a wave of anti-government protests that left approximately 137 people dead. Universally recognized as fraudulent, the election was denounced even by the company that provided the voting machines for the event, which announced in August 2 of last year that the Maduro regime had falsified the results of the election.
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