Title IX: Constitutional reforms (Art. 340-350)
Chapter I: Amendments
Article 340: The purpose of an amendment is to add to or modify one or more articles of the Constitution, without altering the fundamental structure of the same.
Article 341: The procedure for adopting amendments to the Constitution shall be as follows:
(1) The initiative may emanate from 15% of the citizens registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry, from 39% of the members of the National Assembly or from the President of the Republic, sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers.
(2) When the initiative emanates from the National Assembly, the amendment shall require approval by a majority of the members of that body, and shall be debated in accordance with the procedure established under this Constitution for the enactment of laws.
(3) Electoral Power shall submit the amendments to a referendum within 30 days of formally receiving the same.
(4) Amendments shall be deemed approved in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and the law concerning the approval referendum.
(5) Amendments shall be numbered consecutively and shall be published beneath the Constitution without altering the text of the latter, but with an annotation at the bottom of the amended article (s) of the number and date of the amendment modifying the same.
Chapter II: Constitutional Reform
Article 342: The purpose of constitutional reform is to effect a partial revision of this Constitution and replacement of one or more of the provisions hereof, without modifying the fundamental principles and structure of the text of the Constitution.
The initiative for a constitutional reform emanates from the National Assembly, by resolution approved by a majority vote of the members, from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers, or at the request of registered voters constituting at least 15% of the total number registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry.
Article 343: The initiative for a constitution reform shall be processed by the National Assembly as follows:
(1) The draft constitutional reform shall be debated for the first time during the legislative session during which it is submitted.
(2) Second debate title by title or chapter by chapter, as applicable.
(3) Third and last debate article by article.
(4) The National Assembly shall approve the draft constitutional reform in a time period no latter than two years, counted since the date the reform application was submitted and approved.
(5) The draft constitutional reform shall be approved with a two third members vote of the National Assembly.
Article 344: Once approved by the National Assembly, the draft constitutional reform shall be submitted to a referendum within 30 days from its approval. The referendum shall pass on the reform as a whole, but up to one third of the same may be voted on separately, if at least one third of the National Assembly so agrees, or if in the initiative for the reform, the President of the Republic or a number of registered voters equivalent to at least 5% of the total registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry so requests.
Article 345: The constitutional reform shall be declared approved if the number of affirmative votes is greater than the number of negative votes. A revised constitutional reform initiative may not be submitted during the same constitutional term of office of the National Assembly.
Article 346: The President of the Republic shall be obligated to promulgate Amendments and Reforms within ten days of their approval. If he fails to do so, the applicable provisions of this Constitution shall apply.
Chapter III: National Constituent Assembly
Article 347: The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new juridical order and drawing up a new Constitution.
Article 348: The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers; from the National Assembly, by a two-thirds vote of its members; from the Municipal Councils in open session, by a two-thirds vote of their members; and from 15% of the voters registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry.
Article 349: The President of the Republic shall not have the power to object to the new Constitution.
The existing constituted authorities shall not be permitted to obstruct the Constituent Assembly in any way.
For purposes of the promulgation of the new Constitution, the same shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Venezuela or in the Gazette of the Constituent Assembly.
Article 350: The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights.
SOLE DEROGATION PROVISION
The Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela decreed on January 23, 1961 is hereby derogated. The rest of the juridical order shall remain in effect to the extent not in conflict with this Constitution.
First: The special law on the regime for the Capital District as provided for under article 18 of this Constitution shall be approved by the National Constituent Assembly, and shall preserve the territorial integrity of the State of Miranda. Pending approval of the special law, the regime provided for under the Organic Law on the Federal District and the Organic Law on the Municipal Regime shall remain in effect.
Second: Pending enactment of the law provided for under article 38 of this Constitution concerning the acquisition, election, renunciation and recovery of nationality, foreign individuals who, having entered and remained within the national territory legally and declared their intention of establishing their domicile in Venezuela, have a lawful means of earning a living and have resided continuously in Venezuela for two years, shall be regarded as domiciled in Venezuela.
Residence shall be understood as meaning continuing presence in the country with the intention of remaining. Declarations of intent as provided for under articles 32, 33 and 36 of this Constitution shall be made in the form of an authentic instrument by the interested party, when the latter is of legal age, or by his legal representative , if he has not yet reached the age of 21.
Third: The National Assembly, within six months of its installation, shall pass:
(1) A partial reform of the Penal Code to include the offense of forced disappearance of persons, as provided for under article 45 of this Constitution.
(1) Pending enactment of this reform, the Inter-American Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons shall apply insofar as possible.
(2) An organic law on states of exception.
(3) A special law to establish the conditions and characteristics of a special regime for the Municipalities of Jose Antonio Páez and Rómulo Gallegos, in the State of Apure. In the process of formulating this law, the opinions of the President* of the Republic, the National Armed Forces, such representation as may be designated by the corresponding State and all other institutions involved in border problems shall be heard.
Fourth: Within one year of installation, the National Assembly shall approve:
(1) Legislation on penalties for torture, either in the form of a special law or by reforming the Penal Code.
(2) An organic law on refugees and asylum guarantees, consistent with the terms of this Constitution and the pertinent international treaties ratified by Venezuela.
(3) By reforming the Organic Labor Law, a new regime for the right of employees regarding severance payments as regulated in article 92 which regime shall provide for severance payments calculated in proportion to the time served and calculated according with the last salary earned, establishing a statute of limitation for this right of ten (10) years. Until such reformed law goes into effect, the seniority benefit arrangement established under the present Organic Labor Law currently in force shall temporarily remain in effect. Likewise a set of overall standards regulating the working day and promoting the progressive reduction thereof shall be included, on the terms contemplated under the International Labor Organization agreements and conventions signed by the Republic.
(4) An organic procedural labor law guaranteeing the functioning of an autonomous and specialized labor jurisdiction and protection for workers on the terms provided for in this Constitution and the law. The organic labor procedural law shall be guided by the principles of gratuitous service, expeditiousness, oral proceedings, immediacy, priority on the reality of the facts, equity and guiding authority of the judge in the proceedings.
(5) The legislation relating to the Judicial System, National Public Administration, Citizen Power, Electoral Power, tax laws, Budgeting Law, and Public Credit Law. An organic law on public defense. Until this law is passed, the Commission on the Functioning and Restructuring of the Judicial System shall be in charge of the development and effective functioning of the Autonomous Public Defender System, in order to guarantee the right to a defense.
(6) A law developing the public finances of the States, establishing, in a manner consistent with the principles and rules of this Constitution, the taxes included in the same, the mechanisms for their application and the provisions regulating them.
(7) Legislation developing the constitutional principles concerning municipal regime. In accordance with such legislation, the legislative organs of the States shall proceed to pass the normative instruments appropriate to the organizational powers assigned to them with respect to the Municipalities and other local organs, and the territorial political divisions in each jurisdiction. The existing Municipalities and parishes shall continue existing until they have been adapted to the new regime provided for under such legislation.
(8) The law by which the Venezuelan Central Bank is to be governed. Among other matters, this law shall provide for the scope of the functions and manner of organization of this entity; the functions, term of office, manner of election, removal, incompatibilities, regime and requirements for the designation of its Chairman and Directors; the accounting rules for establishing its reserves and the manner in which its profits are to be applied; the annual independent audit of accounts and balances by firms of specialists selected by the National Executive and subsequent control by the Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic regarding the legality, sincerity, opportunity, efficacy and efficiency of the administrative activity of the Venezuelan Central Bank.
The law shall provide the Chairman and other members of the Board of Directors of the Venezuelan Central Bank shall represent exclusively the national interest, to which end it shall provide for public proceedings to evaluate the merits and credentials of candidates for the aforementioned positions.
The law shall provide that the Executive Power shall have the power to designate no less than half of the Directors as well as the Chairman of the Venezuelan Central Bank, and shall establish the terms for participation by the Legislative Power in the designation and ratification of these authorities.
(9) A law of national police corp. This law shall establish the mechanism for the integration of terrestrial transport and transit vigilance to the national police corps.
Fifth: Within one year of the effective date of this Constitution, the National
Assembly shall enact a reformed Organic Tax Code establishing, among other matters:
(1) Strict interpretation of tax laws and rules, bearing in mind their purpose and their economic significance, in order to eliminate ambiguities.
(2) The elimination of exceptions to the principle of nonretroactivity of the law.
(3) Expansion of the concept of imputed income, in order to provide the Tax Administration with better instruments.
(4) Elimination of the statute of limitations for serious tax offenses, which must be defined in the Organic Tax Code.
(5) Increase penalties for advisors, law firms, independent auditors and other professionals who act in complicity for the purpose of committing tax offenses, including periods of suspension from the practice of their professions.
(6) Increase penalties and the severity of the sanctions for tax evasion crimes increasing the periods for the statute of limitations.
(7) Revision of mitigating and aggravating circumstances considered in imposing penalties, in order to make them stricter.
(8) Extend the audit powers of the Tax Administration.
(9) Increase the rate of default interest in order to discourage tax evasion.
(10) Extension of the principle of solidarity to make it possible to reach the assets of Directors or tax advisors in cases they validate tax offenses.
(11) Introduction of more expeditious administrative procedures.
Sixth: Within two years, the National Assembly shall pass legislation on all matter relating to this Constitution. Priority shall be given to the Organic Laws on Native People, on Education, and on Borders.
Seventh: For purposes of article 125 of this Constitution, pending approval of the pertinent organic law, the election of native representatives to the National Assembly and the State and Municipal Legislative Councils shall be governed by the following nomination requirements and mechanisms:
All native organizations or communities shall have the right to nominate native candidates.
It is a requirement for being a candidate to speak their native language and meet at least one of the following conditions:
(1) Have exercised position of traditional Authority in the correspondent community.
(2) Have an established record in the social struggle for recognition of the correspondent cultural identity.
(3) Have taken action benefiting native people and communities.
(4) Must belong to a legally constituted native organization that has been in existence for at least three years.
Three regions are to be established: West, consisting of the States of Zulia, Mérida and Trujillo; South, consisting of the States of Amazonas and Apure; and East, consisting of the States of Bolívar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas, Anzoátegui, and Sucre.
Each of the states comprising the various regions shall elect one representative. The national Electoral Council shall declare elected the candidate who receives a majority of the valid votes in his region or circumscription.
The native candidates shall appear on the ballot in their State or circumscription, and all of the voters in such State shall have the right to vote for them.
For purposes of native representation on the State Legislative Council and on the Municipal Councils of Municipalities with a native population, the 1992 official census by the Central Statistics and Data Processing Office shall be used as a reference, and the elections shall be conducted in accordance with the rules and requirements established herein.
The National Electoral Council shall guarantee compliance with the requirements set forth herein, relying on support from experts in native affairs and native organizations.
Eighth: Pending promulgation of the new electoral laws contemplated in this Constitution, electoral processes shall be called, organized, directed and supervised by the National Electoral Council. For the first term of office of the National Electoral Council provided for under this Constitution, all of the members shall be designated simultaneously. halfway through the term, two of the members shall be replaced in. accordance with the provisions of the pertinent organic law.
Ninth: Pending enactment of the laws pertaining to chapter IV of title V, the Organic Law on the Office of Public Prosecutions and the Organic Law on the Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic shall remain in effect. The head of the People Defender's Office shall be designated temporarily by the National Constituent Assembly. The People Defender* shall move forward as regards organizational structure, integration, establishing of budget and physical infrastructure, based on the powers vested in him by the Constitution.
Tenth: The provisions of article 167, section 4 of this Constitution concerning the obligation of the States to apply at least 50% of the constitutional revenue share to investment, shall be effective beginning January 1, 2001.
Eleventh: Pending enactment of national legislation governing vacant lands, the same shall continue to be administered by the National Power, in accordance with existing legislation.
Twelfth: The demarcation of the native habitat as referred to in Article 119 of this Constitution, shall be carried out within two years of the effective date of this Constitution.
Thirteenth: Until the States assume under State law the powers referred to under article 164, section 7 of this Constitution, the existing system shall remain in effect.
Fourteenth: Pending enactment of the legislation developing the principles embodied in this Constitution concerning municipal regime, the ordinances and other normative instruments concerning municipalities shall remain in full effect as to the matters within their competence and the separate tax competence they possess under the legal order applicable prior to adoption of this Constitution.
Fifteenth: Pending passage of the legislation referred to in article 105 of the Constitution, the legal order applicable prior to adoption of this Constitution shall remain in effect.
Sixteenth: In order to protect the nation's historical heritage, the Chronicler of the National Constituent Assembly shall coordinate all necessary mechanisms to safeguard written documents, videos, digital recordings, photographs, periodicals, audio and any other forms of documentation prepared. All these documents shall remain under the protection of the General Archives of the Nation.
Seventeenth: Once this Constitution has been approved, the name of the Republic shall be "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," as provided for under article 1. It is the obligation of authorities and institutions, both public and private, which are required to issue records, certificates or any other documents, to use the name "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" effective immediately. For routine matters, administrative offices shall use up their existing stationery, replacing the same progressively with conforming documentation, but in any case completing such replacement within five years. The circulation of coins minted and banknotes issued with the name "Republic of Venezuela" shall be regulated by the reform of the Venezuelan Central Bank Law contemplated under the Fourth Temporary Provision of this Constitution, with a view to make the transition to the name "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
Eighteenth: In order to assure the application of article 113 of this Constitution, the National Assembly shall pass a law establishing an entity which shall supervise, control and fiscalize the effective application of such principles and the provision and rules developing them.
The person presiding or directing such entity shall be appointed with the majority of the votes of the members of the National Assembly, with the favorable report of special commission designated from the bosom of the National Assembly for such purposes. The law shall establish the officer of the Public Administration and Judges in charge of evaluating and deciding controversies related to the subjects referred to under such arrangement, apply with priority and exclusive the principles regulated thereof and that they shall not apply any provision which may cause the opposite effect.
The law shall regulate the concessions for public services, the benefits for the concessionaire and the financing of investments closely related to such public service, including upgrades and enlargement considered reasonably and approved by the competent authority.
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