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Venezuela: Opposition's Agreement for Social Justice and Peace

Communiqué of the Democratic Coordinator

Caracas, July 25, 2004 - As representatives of political parties, syndicates, student and youth movements; organizations of people, workers and peasants; productive sectors, work unions and professional associations; media; organization in favor of civil, political and human rights; community organizations and other forms of associations of Venezuelans and foreign nationals determined to live under a democratic regime which guarantees peace, freedom and the development of a healthy and prosperous economy, we subscribe this National Agreement for the advancement of Venezuela towards a future of unity and peace. This agreement reflects the desire of the democratic community to participate in the reconstruction of the nation. We reject sectarianism and intolerance which only serve to promote the dismantling of the nation, authoritarianism, impoverishment of the masses, and the alienation of Venezuela from the rest of the world. We subscribe this alliance in the name of democracy as the expression of the most diverse interests coexisting in Venezuela.

Venezuela is at the dawn of transcendental change. Our obligation is to guide the nation through this process of change towards social progress and the overcoming of old and new mistakes. We have suffered for the last five years the nightmare of confrontation of fellow Venezuelans. The abuses and injustices of recent times have awoken a popular conscience which demands from future leaders a commitment with the reconciliation and the reconstruction of the nation.

The edification of a truly new democracy constitutes the focus of our proposal. The Venezuelan people are no longer the same. They have become active and demanding. These are times of the people. Political parties must adapt their steps to the new tunes. Venezuelans will not retire to their home once a vital compromise to regain democracy has been established. The new governability requires giving the power to the people not only to vote but also to decisively influence the important decisions of the nation. Popular participation must find new ways in the approaching future as the Constitution establishes.

Reconciliation, more than a political act, is the concrete expression of national unity around a nation project. Therefore, we propose that the center of action of the government for unity be focused on giving special attention to those sectors whose integration to society has been hindered by an unacceptable exclusion process. Special treatment will be given to the application of social policies that will allow people to develop their abilities for their incorporation to productive work. The creation of employment and social security are indispensable for peace. The recovery and expansion of both the public and private productive sector is imperative to achieve this.

Peace also requires social coexistence of norms which marked the historical course of human civilization: validity of government by laws, independence of public powers, and the operativety of the institutions; recognition and respect for the rules of the democratic game, for the rights and the space to express diversity of ideas and thoughts. The government of national unity will respect the space for political action and will govern for all Venezuelans.

Hate and sectarianism must be eradicated. The harsh teachings of confrontation of fellow Venezuelans in recent years must not be forgotten. Venezuela faces the most serious challenge in its history; Unity, the yearning of majority of the population, stands against the disintegration of the nation in fratricidal confrontation. As Venezuelans, we have learned to yearn for peace and unity as the biggest blessing of democratic life and the true road to settle our differences.

Our Obligation with Venezuela

The government installed in Venezuela as a result of the elections after the abrogation of the mandate of the President of the Republic will be identified by unity. Capable and suitable government endowed with a large social sensibility. In addition, a plural and broad government without hegemonies of any sector and not conceived as bureaucratic allotment. A government which integrates the strength of the parties with the civil community. In synthesis: a government of the people and for the people.

To guarantee the feasibility, stability and effectiveness of the government of national unity, the organizations of the democratic opposition agree to present a single presidential candidate, chosen by a process of primary elections, who will commit before the nation not to aspire to immediate reelection, with the understanding that this is an important contribution to the success of the government through the complex stage to be undertaken. The Venezuelan chosen will lead a government with the well being of the people and the restoration of State ethics to the services of its people in mind. Furthermore, the proposal and vision that Venezuela is within the plan of National Consensus presented to the nation by the democratic opposition will be the context of the government action.

We commit to dignify politics and to exercise it with ethical sense and a vision of building the nation. As the first manifestation of this commitment, we agree to avoid any sterile and ancillary controversy and to center the debate around ideas conducive to the progress of the nation. This commitment will have special relevance in the next election which will put to test our commitment with unity and will to change. All to combine politics with the higher purpose of reconciliation and national reconstruction.

Whoever becomes the candidate to preside over the government of national unity will establish a compromise to activate the State Council and the Government Federal Council, both provided for in the Constitution.

Strategic Guidelines of the Government of National Unity

Within the general conception of establishment of peace and national unity and the fight against poverty with the creation of employment and wealth, the presidential candidate is committed to conform a Constitutional Government of National Unity to preserve the social rights contemplated in the Magna Carta as well as to strengthen the institutions of the State, under the following strategic guidelines:

Attention for Social Urgency

· Programs of immediate relieve of hunger and unemployment in sectors with greater needs, with special attention to mothers, children, adolescents and elderly.

· Improvements in the quality, coverage and strength of Health and Education.

· Immediate application of emergency plans of civil safety.

· Reactivation of a tripartite mechanism to develop a new system of Complete Social Security which will translate into better quality of health, education and recreation services, as well as a pension system, and the creation of a National Social Security Council.

· Special investment plans to recover the city’s public areas and services.

· Restitution of the labor rights of all workers, especially those confiscated for political reasons.

New Oil and Economic Policies

· Stimulation and promotion for the development of the productive national sector and the increase of the production of goods and services.

· Recovery of the oil industry, and strengthening of PDVSA as fundamental pivot of the national economy.

· Increase the level of development and competence of the oil industry.

· Vigorous policies of productive investment.

· Plans to generate good and stable employment.

· Ease of fiscal and tax pressures on the population.

· Redress of public finances and rational use indebtedness.

· Increase of the acquisition power of the population.

Constitutional and Political Reforms

· Promote amendments to the Constitution in the following areas: reduction of excessive presidential power. Establishment of double round in presidential elections. Restitution of the institutional, apolitical, professional and non-deliberative character of the FAN and its subordination to civil power, but maintaining the civil right of the vote. Restitution of the bicameral parliament.

· Strengthening and deepening of the decentralization as incentive for civil participation and means of development. Transfer of resources and jurisdictional capacities to states, municipalities and parishes.

· Re-institutionalization of Public Powers assigned in violation of the Constitution: Civil Power, Electoral Power, and Supreme Court of Justice.

· Restitution of the role of public and private institutions to facilitate the stabilization of the nation.

Administration of Justice, Equality Before the Law and Fight Against Corruption

· Declaration of emergency of the justice administration system.

· Restitution of the system of contest to designate regular judges.

· Promotion of the abrogation referendum against the Law of the Supreme Court of Justice.

· Attention to the emergency of the prison system with the goal to dignify the treatment of inmates.

· Correct administration of justice by impartial and honest judges and district attorneys.

· Initiation of investigations and sanctions for corruption and violation of human rights.

International Relations

· Foreign policy of the State based on the preservation of the interests of the nation and the national sovereignty.

· Recovery of the professional status of the diplomatic office and the promotion of diplomacy as the means to advance strategic interests of the nation.

· Abidance of international agreements lawfully acquired by Venezuela within the framework of a government by laws.

With this Agreement, we want to establish the foundations for the solution of the immense problems of Venezuela and to build the new consensus the nation needs. When we subscribe this document, we ask of all well-intentioned Venezuelans, regardless of their political creed, to join the spirit of national alliance. From these hardships, we will only emerge united. We are by our history and by the future of our children summoned to unity. Before us lies a future of great possibilities, with the intelligence and with the grandeur of a people committed with their destiny. The choice between hope and the abyss of confrontation is only ours. When we assume the responsibility of tracing the future for all Venezuelans, we are committed to build a plausible Venezuela, a nation with a greatness deserved by its people.

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