A Constitutional move to open the boxes

October 13, 2004

A group of people that lives in the Salias municipality right outside of Caracas went today to the Electoral Board (CNE) to inform them that they had held a Citizens Assembly according to Article 70 of the Venezuelan Constitution and that the 4,000 people at that assembly had voted to open all of the electoral boxes on Oct. 31st. They presented a document outlining how this ill be done and said they did not need the approval of the CNE, because of said article, combined with Art. 5 of the Constitution, which says that sovereignty is exercised directly and is not transferable from the people. The group encouraged other municipalities to follow suit.

This is article 70 of Venezuela’s Constitution, which was the cornerstone of Chavez’ much ballyhooed “participative” democracy which has now been set aside:


Artículo 70. Son medios de participación y protagonismo del pueblo en ejercicio de su soberanía, en lo político: la elección de cargos públicos, el referendo, la consulta popular, la revocatoria del mandato, la iniciativa legislativa. Constitucional y constituyente, el cabildo abierto y la asamblea de ciudadanos y ciudadanas cuyas decisiones serán de carácter vinculante, …


Article 70. The means of participation and protagonism of the people in the exercise of its sovereignty on politics are: the direct election to public office, the referendum, popular consultation, revoking mandates, legislative initiatives, Constitutional and Constituent, town halls and citizens assemblies the decisions of which will be binding….


If more municipalities imitate Los Salias, it will be interesting to see how the CNE and the Government approach the issue. I really don’t believe they want to open all of the boxes, much like they did not want to open them for the August. 15th.  recall vote. It could be dangerous to go to the Supreme Court since the Electoral Law is so clear in saying that all of the boxes have to be opened. Thus, I suspect the CNE will simply block people from doing it on Oct. 31st. or postpone the vote.

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