Monday, January 08, 2007

It looks like we will find out what "21st Century Socialism" is sooner rather than later 

At the swearing in of his new cabinet today President Hugo Chavez wasted no time laying out part how he wants to begin his new term.

He asked for the National Assembly to approve a new enabling law that would give him broader powers to implement important laws and policies himself without having to go through the Assembly each time. Sounds fine to me, but remember that the last time this happened with the famous 41 enabling laws things got real exciting really quick (strikes, coups, etc.). Given how emasculated the opposition is at this point I doubt anything will happen, but you never know.

He also wants "socialist" reforms to the constitution, whatever they are. I'm not sure why a constitution should need to be revised barely seven years after being first drafted but I guess we'll have to wait for the details.

He called for "popular" education. This is suppose to be a complete reform of education to improve the level of science and cultural instruction and also to inculcate new values. This will be a huge, and contentious, task. Now we know why he made his brother Minister of Education.

He said there would be an "explosion" in the power of the communal councils. They are local bodies recently set up at neighborhood levels to bring power closer to the grass roots, speed the resolution of local problems, and help reduce corruption and buearacracy. He now expects them to actually replace local governments.

Lastly he called for re-nationlizing former state companies that had previously been privatized. The one specifically mentioned is the huge CANTV telecommunications company which controls most telephone communications in Venezuela as well as most internet access. Some electrical companies and oil companies have also been mentioned for possible nationalization.

Looks like there won't be much dilly dallying by Chavez. He has a huge mandate and he wants to capitalize on it quickly while it is still fresh.

Smart. Very smart.

See here for more info in English and here for more info in Spanish.


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