Do you want to continue reading where you left off? New Republic subscribers can pick up where they left off no matter which device they were previously using.
The Venezuelan Constitution Vs. Reality
SUBSCRIBE NOW FOR $34.97
JULY 27, 2009
Francisco Toro blogs obsessively about Venezuela and the Ch
share this article on facebook or twitter
print this article
Show all 2 comments
You must be a subscriber to post comments. Subscribe today.
If it's any consolation regarding Venezuela's dead-letter Article 23, the U.S. Constitution similarly contains a provision -- Article VI -- that makes treaties the supreme law of the land. That provision has basically never been enforced by the judicial branch upon the actions of either the legislative or executive branches. Treaties, including treaties making commitments on fundamental human rights, rely entirely on the good graces of Congress and the president to enact enabling legislation or executive orders, not judicial review, to have practical effect.
That said, I suspect that Venezuela would be better off with a much shorter constitution, and many of the provisions currently honored in the breach moved from supreme law to mere statute. Better to have a flawed constitution that the people of a nation are actually willing to honor than a perfect constitution that the people are incapable of living by.
July 27, 2009 at 9:36pm
Rhubarbs's call for a shorter Venezuelan constituion, though well-meaning, fails to take account of the region's civil law tradition, which contrasts markedly with the "Anglo-Saxon" common law tradition. In civil law countries--most of the world excluding former US and British colonial possessions--the power of judges at any level to pronounce on what the law means is severely limited; hence, all such countries, including the Western European democracies, have lengthy constitutions.
The larger problem for Venezuela, and most of the rest of Latin America, is that absence of any tradition of an independent judiciary. Although national congresses today do occasionally check and balance presidential power, the judiciaries of most of the republicfs remain reliable servants of the executive. This was true in pre-Chávez Venezuela and is still true now. As a result, I'm convinced that the 1999 constitution was intended from the start to be a mere propaganda tool rather than a serious attempt to design workable democratic institutions. It contains just one clause that was and is operative: the clause permitting the perpetual reelection of the president.
July 28, 2009 at 5:09pm
0 CHARACTERS SELECTED
POST TO TUMBLR
SHARE ON FACEBOOK