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Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (English translation)

Published December 1, 1999

The 1999 constitution, also called the "Bolivarian Constitution," was the first in Venezuela to be approved by popular referendum, replacing the 1961 constitution.

The Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., which translated the constitution into English, stated:

"The 1999 Constitution has been recognized as one of the most advanced and progressive constitutional texts in the Western Hemisphere. Among the most significant achievements of the current constitution are the following:

  • Title III of the constitution grants an extensive set of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and means to defend them.

  • The mandates of all public officials can be revoked half-way through an elected term through a public referendum known formally as a "Recall Referendum."

  • Citizens can stop the implementation of a law passed by the National Assembly through a public referendum.

  • The Office of the Public Defender or ombudsman was created to guarantee all constitutional rights and protect citizens against excesses of public and private institutions.

  • The rights of indigenous communities are explicitly recognized, and the constitution guarantees the protection of their ancestral lands, languages and beliefs. The Constitution of 1961 did not include indigenous languages, while the Constitution of 1999 not only grants them official status, but also recognizes them as national patrimony.

  • Social rights are granted, such as the right to work, the right to housing, the right to an education, the right to access public services and others.

  • Gender equality is guaranteed. The Constitution of 1999 recognizes women as individuals with equal rights and responsibilities and as vital autonomous participants in Venezuela's growth and development. The gender-neutral language of the Constitution of 1999, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination, represents a break with Venezuela's old patriarchal model, which subordinated and excluded women from public life.

  • The right of all Venezuelans to freely and peacefully assemble was expanded by obligating the state to protect those who gather in peace from those who incite violence.

  • It protects and preserves the right of each citizen to express their culture."