The Venezuelan National Assembly’s (AN) new legislative session started on January 4 and will last through the 2014 calendar year. It began with the reelection of several AN members to their leadership positions and illustrated persisting polarization in Venezuelan politics.
On January 5, President Nicolas Maduro congratulated and met with the reelected leadership base for the AN’s 2014-2015 session, which includes Diosdado Cabello (President of the National Assembly), Darío Vivas (First Vice-President), Blanca Eekhout (Second Vice-President), Víctor Clark Boscan (Secretary) and Fidel Vásquez (Deputy Secretary), all of whom are affiliated with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
The elections for AN leadership featured no members of the opposition. Omar Barboza, an AN member from opposition party Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT), spoke for the opposition and stated that opposition members abstained from these elections, because the previous NA did not approve any laws in favor of the people. During Sunday’s session, Maria Corina Machado, an opposition AN member, also criticized the AN stating that it had become “absolutely submissive to the power of the executive, delivering an enabling law [to the president] that did not have the votes.”
After his meeting with President Maduro, Cabello stated that the AN would “continue to advance the construction of Bolivarian socialism.” José Alfredo Ureña (PSUV) stated that in the new session the AN would continue to focus on “the strengthening of popular power and the missions,” and that it would also focus on economic development and strengthening agriculture and agro-industry.
Oscar Figuera, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), stated that the PCV would also put forth several proposals for the new legislative agenda. These include a special law for workers’ councils, a tax reform that includes the elimination of the value-added tax (IVA), an anti-monopoly law, and a law for public health service.
During the 2013-2014 session, the AN enacted 20 laws, including the Enabling Law, the Law of the Republic, and the Law for the Disarmament and Control of Arms and Munitions. In the new session, 41 laws are scheduled for second discussion for final legislative approval.