Venezuela: Reform of the Conscription Law is unconstitutional

Rafael Uzcátegui

In the National Assembly, a project to reform the Conscription and Military Enlistment Law is currently being discussed. The law has been included in the legislative package considered high priority by the heads of parliament, having been approved in the first debate of 18/06/2013. The project presented, however, is unconstitutional, because it violates what is stated in article 134 of the Magna Carta - that: “Every person, in accordance with the law, has the right to carry out civilian or military service necessary for the defence, preservation and development of the country, or in the face of public disaster. Nobody can be subjected to forced conscription (…)”.

The militarisation of youth in Bolivarian Venezuela

Rafael Uzcátegui

President Hugo Chavez systematically militarised Venezuelan society, from young to old. This is perhaps not too surpising when recalling that he came to power as Lieutenant Colonel Chavez in 1998, after leading a coup d’etat in 1992. It was the first time during the democratic period, which began in 1958, that a member of the armed forces was chosen as the country’s leader. Since that time there has been a progressive militarisation of the country, with a special emphasis on young people.

Starting them young

WRI supports Venezuelan Human Rights organisation PROVEA

Eleven years ago, during those 47 hours when a right-wing faction had detained Hugo Chavez and Pedro Carmona had declared himself the new president of Venezuela, one of the first groups to issue a condemnation of the coup was PROVEA, the Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos. At a time when the governments of the USA and Spain had recognised the 'new government', PROVEA - regardless of the risks their own organisation might face - circulated nationally and internationally their denunciation of the coup and their call for respect of the 1999 constitution. The courage and the determination to investigate and state the truth that marked PROVEA's action at that time has continued to characterise its research and reports. It is therefore alarming that Ernesto Villegas, the Venezuelan government minister for Communication and Information, should now smear PROVEA as "the rearguard of fascism" and "accomplices of murder and attacks".

Committee of Victims Against Impunity

After 13 years in power, there are many unresolved problems in Venezuela, despite the promises of President Chávez's government. One problem is the impunity of the police and military, and their violation of the right to life.

In the poor neighbourhoods of Barquisimeto, Venezuela's fifth largest city, families whose relatives have been assassinated or abused by the police or military cannot not hire lawyers to represent them. In 2004 they formed a popular committee to organise themselves, called the 'Committee of Victims Against Impunity' (Covicil in Spanish).

Venezuela: Interview with WRI Council Member Rafael Uzcátegui

Rafael Uzcategui is a member of the group that publishes the anarchist newspaper El Libertario in Caracas (Venezuela). As antimilitarist, he is also a member of the War Resisters' International and works in a Venezuelan human rights NGO called Provea. He is author of the books “Heart of Ink” and “Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle” in which he reports the so-called Bolivarian process of Chavez and the true face of his "revolutionary" government. Taking advantage of his conference tour in Germany, we interviewed Rafael for the magazine Gai Dao.

Militarisation of youth in Bolivarian Venezuela

Rafael Uzcátegui

In 1998 lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez won the presidency of Venezuela, after staging a coup d’etat in 1992. For the first time in Venezuela’s democratic period (which began in 1958), a member of the Armed Forces was elected head of state. One of the consequences was that a new phase of progressive militarisation had begun in the country, initiated with a constitutional reform in 1999, which granted members of the Armed Forces the right to vote, in addition to other political rights, such as the right to be elected to public office in a public vote. Today, soldiers occupy different offices, such as ministers, governors, and mayors. Although there is a coalition of political parties that supports president Chávez, the Gran Polo Patriótico, there is a lot of evidence that shows that, in fact, the Armed Forces are Hugo Chávez's political organisation of trust to exercise political power.

Venezuela: Armándonos para el desarme

Rafael Uzcátegui

En los pasados dos años, como director de Ultimas Noticias, Eleazar Díaz Rangel utilizó las cifras del Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones de Paz de Estocolmo (SIPRI) para intentar desmontar las acusaciones sobre el alto gasto en armamentos del país: “Venezuela ha disminuido sensiblemente la carrera armamentista en los últimos años, a diferencia de la imagen que difunden los medios de comunicación”, afirmó el veterano periodista, palabras que fueron extensamente divulgadas por el sistema de medios estatales. Sin embargo, la lectura que hace Rangel del informe anual más respetado sobre transferencia de armas en el mundo es bastante sesgada, por decir lo menos.

Venezuela: Desarmar el discurso, desarmar al Estado

Rafael Uzcátegui (*)

"En un barrio de Caracas, -organizamos- un ejercicio de defensa, donde participe el pueblo organizado, algunos con uniforme, otros sin uniforme, los hombres de inteligencia, las mujeres cocinando. Es el pueblo en armas, la guerra de todo el pueblo. ¡Que nadie se venga a meter con nosotros!”

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, octubre 2009

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