Friday, October 12, 2007

Social and collective property belongs to the people, and I am the people...

Therefore, all property is mine...

The title seems to reflect what's on Hugo's mind lately.

"The Bolivarian revolution, I repeat, doesn't exclude, prohibit or have any kind of plan to eliminate private property," Chávez said over the weekend, referring to his program to transform Venezuela in honor of the 19th-century South American revolutionary, Simon Bolivar.

While preserving private property, a revised Constitution would also protect "social" and "collective" property, like the country's large oil reserves, Chávez said, without giving further details.

Constitutional changes, to be drafted by a presidential committee and submitted for public approval in a national referendum this year, are the first of "five engines" of change Chávez has outlined for Venezuela since beginning his second, six-year term in office on Jan. 10."


"Private property isn't the only kind of property," Chávez said Saturday. "When the conquistadors arrived here by sea, there was social property, collective property, and everyone was the owner of everything."

"This is a debate that should deepen," he said.

Chavez is lying in regards to private property, or he is simply crazy. This the article he says is "preserving" private property, translated by Pedro Bernardez:

Article 115 as per today (1999 Constitution):

“The right to own property is guaranteed. Every person has a right to the use, enjoyment, and disposition of his/her goods. Property will be subject to the contributions, restrictions and obligations that the law establishes in the spirit of public use or general interest. It is only in the spirit of public use or general interest, through final judgment and quick payment of fair compensation, that any kinds of goods may be expropriated”

Article 115’s proposed reform:

“The different forms of property are recognized and guaranteed. Public property [“la propiedad pública”] is that which belongs to State entities; social property [“la propiedad social”] is that which belongs to the people in its entirety and to the future generations, and may be of two types: indirect social property, when it is exercised by the State in name of the community, and direct social property, when the State assigns it, under different forms and in outlined territories, to one or several communities, to one or several communes [“comunas”], constituting thusly communal property, or to one or several cities, constituting thusly cityward property; collective property [“la propiedad colectiva”] is that which belongs to social groups or persons, for their benefit, use or common enjoyment, of either social or private origin; mixed property [“la propiedad mixta”] is that constituted by the public sector, the social sector, the collective sector and the private sector, in differing combinations, for the utilization of resources or carrying out activities, always subject to the absolute respect of the Nation’s economic and social sovereignty; and private property [“la propiedad privada”] is that which belongs to natural or juristic persons and is recognized over user and consumer goods, and legitimately acquired means of production.

All property, will be subject to the contributions, burdens, restrictions and obligations that the law establishes in the spirit of public use or general interest. In the name of public use or general interest, through final judgment and quick payment of fair compensation, the expropriation of any kind of good may be declared, without restricting the right of State officials, of previously occupying, during the judicial process, the goods being expropriated, within the parameters established by law.”

As you can read, the new proposed article mentions private property but it doesn't "preserve "it" by any means, because it can be expropriate it in the name of public use, which can be a pretty broad territory, any bureaucrat can rule anything in the name of public use, for his or her own benefit.

Bernardez also has an excellent explanation about the definition and uses of private property on the "new" constitution:

"Private property: although, in a technical sense, the articles barely contradict each other in regards to private property, what does happen is that the definition of private property is specifically narrowed down to “user and consumer goods and legitimately acquired means of production” and subject to greater restrictions than in the current article.

Under the new article, persons do not explicitly have a right to the disposition of their goods, which means that for example rental of said goods could not be exploited for economic gain.

This means that all economic sectors that rely on rent such as hotels, rented apartments, rental stores, and businesses that rent out industrial equipment would cease to exist as private, either becoming collective or disappearing.

Also, since private property is restricted to “user and consumer goods and legitimately acquired means of production” it includes neither land (unless it were a “legally acquired means of production”) nor intellectual property, unproductive land and real estate (even the land one lives on) and personally produced works of art could never constitute one’s own private property.

In addition to these restrictions is the fact that State entities have the guaranteed right to occupy goods when and while a judicial process to expropriate them is pending.

“Legitimately acquired means of production” presents another problem: since it is the people (on whom sovereignty rests according to the Constitution), and therefore the State (in the people’s name), what define what “legitimately acquired is”, it leaves the State with the option of acquiring said means of production, possibly without compensation, by simply declaring such acquisition as “in the people’s interest. The use of legitimate as opposed to legal implies the possible use such supra or extralegal justifications for the acquisition of said means of production even if they were legally acquired.

This is in addition to any restrictions on legal acquisitions. It is also the State who defines the laws, and therefore may rule ownership of certain property illegal by simply altering existing laws to exclude such property. The State already did so when it redefined what legally acquired lands were in 2005, and took lands that were outside this definition (in this case, private lands that were not registered in 1821)

In other words, as opposed to the current article (which guarantees private ownership except in the “spirit of public use or general interest”), the new article gives the government the implicit power to instantly requisition all means of production if it wanted to by a simple change of the law or “on behalf of the people”.

Lastly, note that the new article does not explicitly establish the right for the personal and exclusive enjoyment of one’s private property; in fact, nowhere in the article are citizens given any rights over property: only the State explicitly reserves them for itself.

In conclusion, private property as understood by the new article is a much more restricted and narrow version than it is in the current one, and essentially nullifies most of it."

The debate has taken place, but the government hasn't take note of it. And they won't. In the end, due to the stupidity and ignorance of many citizens, they will take the bait, accept to vote for this illegitimate proposal. Moreover, the people will be accepting to go to vote with the present electoral council conditions (run by Chavista partisans)... and as you can imagine, the Chavistas will win, and they will do whatever they want, and the people won't have any other choice but to submit to the new Pharaoh.

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