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Embajador de la Rep?blica Bolivariana de Venezuela en Estados Unidos, Bernardo Alvarez

Reform in Venezuela (1 Letter) The New York Times August 26, 2007

To the Editor:

?Mr. Ch?vez?s Power Grab? (editorial, Aug. 22), about constitutional reforms in Venezuela, underplays two key points: the process and the purpose.

The reforms, which would affect only 33 of the Constitution?s 350 articles, were submitted to the National Assembly last week. Debate in the legislative body began this week and will proceed through three phases and require a two-thirds majority for every proposed reform.

Moreover, a special forum has been established to enable regular Venezuelan citizens to voice their opinions. After that round of debates, the reforms that make it through will be submitted to popular vote through a national referendum. Nothing could be further from a ?power grab.?

The central purpose of the proposed reforms is to further decentralize political power through innovative and independent bodies, such as communal councils; grant the Venezuelan people more control over their natural resources; and further allow the government to grow the economy, create jobs and continue addressing social needs.

Since 1999, poverty has fallen over 12 percent, and the economy has enjoyed three years of consecutive growth and diversification.
Ultimately, the reforms are meant as a path toward a new model for development and democracy in Venezuela. And although you may not think so, the 75 percent of the Venezuelan people who turned out to vote in last December?s presidential election prove that there is something to Venezuela?s participatory democracy.

Bernardo ?lvarez Herrera
Ambassador of Venezuela

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