[Venezuelanalysis.com's editor Gregory Wilpert reports on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's announcement on Monday of a series of dramatic new measures for moving ahead in establishing 21st century socialism in Venezuela. Among these new measures are the convocation of a new constitutional assembly and the re-nationalisation of key industries. In his speech Chavez characterized the preceding years of his presidency, 1999-2006, as a “phase of transition,” which ends now, and that “we are now entering a new era, the National Simon Bolivar Project of 2007-2021.” --Ed]
Chavez Announces Nationalizations, Constitutional Reform for Socialism in Venezuela
By Gregory Wilpert – Venezuelanalysis.com
January 08, 2007
Caracas, January 8, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— During the swearing-in ceremony of his new cabinet, Venezuela’s President Chavez announced a series of dramatic new measures for moving ahead in establishing 21st century socialism in Venezuela. Among these new measures are the convocation of a new constitutional assembly and the re-nationalization of key industries.
In his speech Chavez characterized the preceding years of his presidency, 1999-2006, as a “phase of transition,” which ends now, and that “we are now entering a new era, the National Simon Bolivar Project of 2007-2021.” This project would head towards “Bolivarian Socialism, which requires greater levels of effort and engagement, clarity and efficiency, and revolutionary quality,” said Chavez. The year 2021 is significant for Chavez because it is the 200th anniversary of Venezuelan independence.
This new project, which Chavez promised to outline in greater detail during his own swearing-in on Wednesday, for his second full presidential term, consists of five “motors”: an “enabling” law, constitutional reform, popular education, reconfiguration of state power, and explosion of communal power.
1. Enabling law (ley habilitante), which Chavez referred to as the “mother law” of the project. This law would allow Chavez, over the period of one year, to pass laws on specified issues as decrees. This type of law has been given to Venezuelan presidents on several occasions before, such as during the first presidency of Carlos Andrés Perez (1974-1979) and early in Chavez’s presidency, following the passage of the 1999 constitution, to bring the country’s laws up to date to the new constitution.
Chavez said that part of this enabling law would be the nationalization of key industries that had been privatized under previous governments, such as the telecommunications company CANTV and the electricity companies. “All of that which was privatized, let it be nationalized,” said Chavez.
CANTV’s shares dropped by 14.2% following the announcement, until the New York Stock Exchange halted trading of CANTV shares. The former state company was privatized in 1991.
Also, his government would push for changing the minority stake the state oil company has in four Orinoco Oil Belt projects into a majority stake. The four Orinoco joint ventures are with the U.S. companies ExxonMobil, Conoco, and Chevron, France’s Total, Britain’s BP, and Norway’s Statoil. Together these produce 600,000 barrels of oil per day, about 18% of Venezuela’s total production. This move follows an earlier move to create joint ventures out of foreign companies’ operations in marginal oil fields.
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