The Constitutional Reform can wait, but life can’t! by Radar de los Barrios

August 27, 2007

Maria brought to my attention this proposal made on Saturday by the Association Radar de los Barrios. Unfortunately it received little attention from the media or the press. I thought it was worthwhile translating it and presenting it here. It is a pragmatic and realistic proposal, made as an alternative to the reform of the Constitution. It addresses real problems that affect people, not political problems that address acquiring more power. I translated it as faithfully as possible.

The Constitutional Reform can wait, but life can’t!
by Radar de los Barrios

Let us not allow the country to continue to be divided.

Mari­a Elena Delgado, a member of the Technical Table of the barrio Union of Petare, a mother of seven, three of which have been murdered by criminals. She does not need to “reform” the Constitution, she only needs for it to be enforced!.

Without entering into considerations about the possible virtues or defects of the proposal to reform the Constitution presented by the President, what is a fact-beyond the will of the person proposing it-is that the proposal itself has come to become another divisive factor of the Venezuelan people.

For many years, the country has been bitterly divided in opposing bands: “Chavistas and squalids”, “Devils and Florentinos”, “pro-Government and opposition”, “Bush’s agents and Fidel’s puppets” are only some of the disagreeable labels with which Venezuelans have spent almost a decade offending each other, separating each other and hurting each other. Now the proposed Constitutional reform threatens to divide us once more, between those “in favor” and “those against” it.

Yudeysi Zamora, an inhabitant of the La Vega barrio, died on February 13th 2007, due to the lack of medical care. Her kids do not need to “reform” the Constitution, only that it be enforced!

With all due respect, we want to tell those getting ready to initiate the campaigns for the “No”and for the “Yes”, the following:

Imagine yourself in a morgue trying to convince any of the mothers that each Monday have to go there to look for the bodies or their murdered kids or husbands, to convince them to vote; imagine trying to get the vote of people crying next to their shacks, filled with mud and stones, destroyed by the last rain storm; imagine looking for a vote for the “Yes” or for the “No” at the funeral of the last Chavista murdered, because since there are so few jobs in the formal sector, now positions are fought for among the “Bolivarian” unions in shoot outs; imagine yourself then, riding a disheveled ambulance, asking for the vote of a fellow countryman who is being sent from hospital to hospital, because they have no supplies, because Barrio Adentro can’t care for him and because he has no money or private insurance to be at a private hospital. Only imagine that and tell yourself, with your heart, if that campaign would have any sense.

Kids from barrio El Cipres, in Las Adjuntas, eating what sometimes is their only meal of the day: unripened mango with salt or with bullion. They don’t need to “reform” the Constitution, they need it to be enforced!

During these almost ten years of division, the number of deaths, injured and grieving homes due to the criminal action of the underworld has increased beyond what any country can sustain; during this same period hospitals have continued to decay, and well intentioned programs like “Barrio Adentro” continue to be only a promise to the large majority of the poor; almost ten years after dividing us among “opposition” and “followers”, the immense majority of Venezuelans live in trying to make ends meet via the informal economy, or the temporary solution of a little aid here, a little contribution there..; Today, after almost a decade of division among Venezuelans, the immense majority lacks a dignified home, because new homes are not built and the ones already in the barrios are not improved.

Antoine Perez, a ten year old kid found out what buried alive meant due to a landslide in his home in Fila de Mariches. He does not need to “reform the Constitution, only that it be enforced!

Now, why did this happen? Some will say because the Government has not had the will to resolve the great problems of the country, because it has devoted itself to impose an ideological project, its so-called “revolution”. And it may be right. Others will say that the problems of the country have accumulated during such a long time (the famous “40 years”) and that the opposition has sabotaged so much during the last few years, that it has been impossible to solve in ten years what was damaged during almost half a century. And maybe they are also right.

But what is absolutely clear, beyond any doubt, is that the division among Venezuelans, the irrational polarization, the confrontation between brothers against brothers has not helped at all in facing as a country and defeat those real enemies that we have: violence, underdevelopment, poverty, injustice.

To repair this mess in Street #2 of Los Frailes de Catia took 57 days, fifty more than the National Assembly took to approve the proposal for reform of the new Constitution after its first discussion!

That is why, in the face of the proposal for Constitutional reform brought up by the President, the position that we assume and that we propose to other autonomous social movements, as organized popular communities and the collective of manual and intellectual workers, can be expressed in two ways. We reject the continuous division of the country, no matter how “constitutional” it may be. Thus, as a consequence we propose the following:

Lagoon of sewage in Barrio Metropolitano of Petare, whose inhabitants also don’t need the reformof the Constitution, but that it be enforced!

1) That 2008 be designated the Year of National Unity against Insecurity and that during the year ALL of the sectors of the country (Government, opposition and independents) actively participate in the practical implementation of the recommendations of the National Commission on the Police (CONAREPOL)

2) That
2009 be designated as the Year for National Unity for Health Care and that during that year ALL of the sectors of the country (Government, opposition and independents) actively participate in the improvement of health services and the integration of the conventional hospital network (Hospitals, clinics and mobile units) with the emerging care network (Barrio Adentro I, Centers for Diagnose and popular clinics)

3) That 2010 be designated Year of National Unity towards the Rescue of Public Education and that during that year ALL of the sectors of the country (Government, opposition and independents) actively participate in the rescue, maintenance and overhaul of pre-schools, schools, high schools and public universities as well as the optimization of the Educational missions and of any other form of mode of pedagogical assistance to the population, to guarantee that the education of the poor does not continue being a “poor education” , always taking care of the fact that the content be oriented towards free and critical individuals capable of interacting with solidarity and in responsible fashion in the context of a social state where the rule of law prevail as established in the current Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela.

4) That 2001 be designated as the Year of National Unity for Dignified and Productive Employment and that during that year ALL of the sectors of the country (Government, opposition and independents) actively participate in the promotion protection and development of concrete economic initiatives oriented towards creating quality employment, with stability and social security for millions of Venezuelans, creating the conditions of legal, economic and political trust that would make it possible to reactivate the private sector, attracting international private investment and orienting national public investment in long term productive initiatives.

5) That the period 2008-2001 be designated as the Four Years of National Unity for the Right to Housing and that during that year ALL of the sectors of the country (Government, opposition and independents) actively participate in the physical rehabilitation of the areas of all barrios of the country, standardizing the quality of life of these community spaces with conventional urban spaces, promoting the building of homes for sale ad rent within the framework of daring projects fro urban reform in existing cities and generating concrete assets from the point of view of economic activity to promote new scheme for territorial occupation , with more equilibrium from the geographical, sociological and economic point of view than the current scheme in which 90% of the population is concentrated in the northern coastal strip of the country.

6) That the proposal for Constitutional Reform formulated by the President be debated in the year 2012 and the referendum for it be voted jointly with the Presidential election of December of that year.

Homeless “having lunch” in a garbage container in San Agusti­n del Sur. He does not need the reform of the Constitution either, just that it be enforced!

If these proposals are assumed by the political country (both Government and opposition), we could reach the year 2012 with a new reality: the political actors mostly liked by the country would not be those that are more aggressive, those that insult the most their opponent, those that make the most thankless use of political connections to which they have access, but would be those that have made more and the best proposals and that have worked hardest to make them reality.

In this new context, to debate and vote over a constitutional reform and about a new President will not be a brutal exercise of power of one sector of the population over another one, but a nutritional exercise for ALL Venezuelans, of the creation of a future, of reaffirmation of new realities. We will not choose between the bad and the least bad, but between good and the best. Our debate will not be to punish those that have been most inefficient, but to choose those that have presented the most honest and efficient options. It is that 2012 that we would like to reach.

Of course, there always exist the risk that “professional” cynics of some professional politicians (both from the Government and the opposition) determine that we Venezuelans “do not deserve” a debate like that one, useful and respectful. Let it be their problem, the last politicians that thought that way were the ones taken away by the landslides of 1998. Those that disregard the country in similar fashion now, will face a similar fate. The dinosaurs also ignored the meteorite that took them to their extinction.

Neighbors of the Federico Quiroz barrio showing signs with articles of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela that some what to “deform”, sorry, “reform”

This is the position of the autonomy social movements of the organized popular communities; Let’s reform life now! And if the people deem it needed, let’s reform the Constitution later, when united we have started defeating insecurity, death, unemployment, ignorance and injustice!


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