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Venezuela: An annulment appeal against the Central Bank Law introduced

By Sol Maria Castro,

The president of the Committee of the Defenders of the Constitution, Codecon, Jesús Caldera Infante, introduced this Thursday an annulment appeal against the Central Bank Law, BCV, for its partial unconstitutionality. Caldera Infante argues that although it is true that the body is autonomous, it must contribute decisively to the sustainable development of the nation and hinder the vulnerability of our economy. “The BCV is not a little republic governed by economy Founding Fathers, and it cannot be a black box, as was PDVSA before,” said Caldera Infante.

Updates on Verification Process of Recall Referendum Petitions after 134 days.

Súmate has organized with 15,000 volunteers, a nationwide event for Saturday, May 8, Operation Finish, where people will know what happened to their signature and how to ratify their will by attending the same signature collection drive center they did in November.

§ The CD is studying the legal actions they can take to help citizens defend those signatures which were eliminated due to clerks’ mistakes in the Acts. Some 400,000 signatures fall into this category with NO right to repair although that was the original intention of the article in the first Norms approved.

§ According to Venprés, the pro-government Ayacucho Command has started the Popular Sovereign Operation, which consists on training volunteers who will receive the necessary data to pay visits to the homes of those who signed the presidential recall referendum petition according to the lists of undersigned. The coordinators in Monagas and Nueva Esparta States, Conrado Peñaloza and David Figueroa , said they are working to have 12,000 and 7,500 signatures excluded in the repair process because their signatories were pressed to do it or have simply regret it since. They expect to mobilize 15% of the 1,910,965 signatories to withdraw their signatures. “We are sure that the signatories will go to have their signatures annulled, we know many of those cases that do not want to carry that mark over their shoulders for life,” indicated Peñaloza.

§ The CNE directorate approved the instruments for the recall referenda: the Repair Instruction Manual, the receipt, the envelopes, the repair notebook, and the Repair Acts of proceedings, as well as those to receive the material back in the CNE. Director Jorge Rodríguez announced the signatures will be published in the papers of Cadena Capriles and Panorama (both pro-government) on May 1-3 for the signatures to go to repair for the first event (legislators), and May 5-9 for those who signed petitioning a PRR.

Opposition representatives meet will this afternoon with Carter Center and OAS representatives to discuss the “repairs” process.

The first law of the dictatorship was approved this Friday.

After a 16-hour session that ended around 5 am Friday morning, pro-government legislators at the National Assembly passed the Organic Law of the Supreme Court by a simple majority under the protest of the opposition legislators grouped in the Democratic Block. Opposition lawmaker Pastor Heydra (AD) said that this law represents a coup d'état that confirms that the country is under a "constitutional dictatorship," while Primero Justicia Gerardo Blyde called it “the first law of the dictatorship.” The new law, introduced in January 2003, with 179 articles, was then reduced to 126 for the second discussion, and later modified to 39, 36, 27, and finally, to 23 articles on Thursday so that it could be passed during the session as the legislators had promised. This reduction goes against the Norms which preclude a drafted bill to be modified while it is being debated. The new law increases the number of justices to 32, who will be appointed by a simple majority at the National Assembly, instead of the two thirds contemplated in the current law. The opposition legislators have announced they will appeal at the Supreme Court and will also initiate an abrogating referendum to annul the law while the pro-government lawmakers invited all the country's lawyers to prepare their applications to the position of magistrate. The law will now go back to the Interior Politics Commission where it will be written as passed to be presented to the plenary of the Assembly and be sanctioned as soon as the President signs it. Majority leader MVR Cilia Flores said “the law will allow the good operation of the judicial system that has been working according to political interests. After so much effort and devotion, we have a legal instrument that will end impunity; all the patriotic people will have social justice to continue backing the revolutionary process.” Flores added that starting next week and working constantly they will pass the other laws pending for the good of the country: the Social Responsibility in Radio and Television Law or Gag Law, the National Police Law, the Public Ministry Law, and the Organic Law of the National Armed Force, among others.

Chacao Mayor to be imputed next week for events in its municipality in 2002.

Special Public Prosecutor Danilo Anderson (in charge of all political cases) announced this Thursday that Leopoldo López, Chacao Municipality Mayor, will be imputed for the military pronouncements a group of officers made on October 22, 2002 in Plaza Altamira, a sector of his municipality, invoking civil disobedience against president Hugo Chávez’s government next week. According to Anderson, an investigation was begun at that time, and based on that, he issued a subpoena against the Mayor. He will be charged with a series of crimes when he appears in his office according to Article 124 of the Penal Organic Code (COPP), and will be then able to read the proceedings against him. Between 80 and 100 military officers have been summoned for the same investigation, but only three have appeared in the Public Ministry. The Prosecutor’s Office will have six months to finish the investigation, and present the case. In March, Baruta Mayor, Henrique Capriles Radonsly, also from Primero Justicia, was the subject of an investigation for the events of April 2002; a warrant for his arrest was issued, and later annulled by the Supreme Court of Justice.

May 1st marches against the US and unemployment.

Two marches were organized on Saturday, May 1st. Pro-government unions FBT (Workers’ Bolivarian Force), and Unete marched from the northwest of the city to Carmelitas downtown, for the “unity of workers in defense of the revolutionary democratic process of President Hugo Chávez and against the American government interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs, and the anti-national attitude of important sectors of the opposition which have developed an international strategy to have Venezuela isolated, blocked and intervened by a foreign power.” The Venezuelan Labor Confederation, CTV, marched from its traditional spot across from its headquarters to the Baralt Avenue only, breaking the tradition of ending the march at O’Leary Square, since the authorities denied the permission the night before. The pro-government Municipality of Libertador where both points are located denied the permission alleging a group known as Bolivarian Liberating Legion had previously filed a permission for an event which had been approved, recalling that last year’s march resulted in one fatality.

Elections without incidents at country’s first university, UCV.

The process to renew the authorities of the Venezuelan Central University, UCV, took place this Friday with a massive attendance, and without incidents despite the violent climate that threatened it last week. Five opposition tickets and one candidate for the government are running for the positions in the two-round elections in which 5,000 professors and 42,000 students will cast their vote. The current authorities are expecting a decision by the Constitutional Chamber where some pro-government students and workers filed for the annulment of the elections. “We do not know what could happen, but the truth is that the Constitutional Chamber has acted very rapidly in this case, something that surprises us,” said Giuseppe Giannetto, current President of the UCV: Miguel Castillejo, president of the Electoral Committee informed the first results will be known tonight after 8 pm.

CADIVI dismissed 60 officials for corruption practices.

The President of the Foreign Currency Administration Commission, CADIVI, Captain (r) Edgard Hernández Behrens ratified the information announced by the vice-president of the Commission, Adina Bastidas, that between 50 and 60 CADIVI officials had been dismissed because of corruption practices. Hernández Behrens, who informed the police have arrested five people who pretended to be CADIVI agents, said he was asking the National Assembly to resume the discussion of the drafted Foreign Currency Penal Law, so that those who violate the norms can be punished. Yesterday, a home-made bomb exploded outside the CADIVI offices. Although no comments have been made by the government, the flyers scattered with the explosion signed by a pro-government group. Carapaicas, justified the attack because of the corruption in the Commission.

Strike at SIDOR affects the administration after a week.

The strike at SIDOR, the largest steel-producing company, reached its eleventh day threatening to become radical when workers forced the managers to suspend administrative tasks for security reasons. Union leader Carlos Becerra said that Sutiss, a trade union, agreed to radicalize the protest and impede the access of any employee to the plant. Becerra said that the union decided to intensify the strike due to a communiqué made public by the company on regional newspapers announcing the suspension of wages to workers on strike. On April 22 11,000 workers began a general strike demanding benefits and the reincorporation of 250 fired workers; the government seeks to mediate in the conflict to attain an agreement between SiIDOR senior management and workers.

Venezuelan government accepts US Ambassador appointment.

Venezuela gave its approval to the designation of William R. Brownfield as the new ambassador of the United States to Venezuela, state news agency Venpres said. Brownfield, who is currently his country's ambassador in Chile, has worked as a diplomat since 1979, and has a vast experience in Latin America, including Venezuela. From 1979 to 1981, he was the U.S. deputy consul in Maracaibo, Zulia State. His 25-year diplomatic career also includes relevant offices in Buenos Aires, San Salvador and the United Nations.

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs accuses US of creating feud between Colombia and Venezuela.

Jesús Pérez, Minister of Foreign Affairs thinks that the United States is seeking a conflict between Colombia and Venezuela with the report from the American Department of State, in which it reads that the government is inconsistent in its fight against terrorism, and specifically, against the Colombian guerrilla. Pérez claimed that Hugo Chávez’s administration has a “different vision in the fight against terrorism, which is not the one that others intend us to have, participating in a war, for instance.” Pérez argued the cooperation questioning against terrorist groups is “another one of those stupidities of the United States, which is always trying to teach lessons to everybody about who the best is and who respects human rights the most.”

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