Venezuelans protest bill to privatise housing, Congress for the Homeland opens

April 17, 2016


Venezuelans took to the streets on April 14 to protest a new housing law proposed by the new right wing-controlled assembly that seeks to privatise public housing.

TeleSUR correspondent in Caracas Iain Bruce reported: “Government supporters are protesting against a law passed by parliament to allow public housing to be sold.”

The protesters say this is a bid to privatise public housing, boost the market in home loans and benefit the banks.

The government has built more than 1 million homes since 2010, especially for victims of natural disasters and others most in need. The law passed by the opposition majority would give the beneficiaries full property rights, including the right to buy and sell at will.

Opponents of the law fear this could spark a speculative bubble, pricing out the poor and undermining the aim of public housing — guaranteed access to housing for all.

The protest came after the first national plenary session of the Congress of the Homeland began on April 13 in Caracas. The congress is an opportunity for Venezuela's popular sectors to submit and debate proposals aimed at solving the country's deep-seated problems.

During the opening ceremony, President Nicolas Maduro said: “This is a deep rebirth amidst difficulties meant to generate a new awareness, in order to awake the one who is asleep, and convoke the one that has not been convoked.”

The debates will last until April 19 with the aim of generating new forces and leaders for the country, Maduro said. He called on workers, campesinos and cultural sectors, as well as lawmakers and governors, to participate in the debates.

There have been hundreds of local, regional and sectoral meetings over the past two months to discuss people's proposals, said TeleSUR correspondent in Caracas, Ian Bruce.

Many Chavista activists see this as an opportunity to reaffirm the role of participatory democracy in the Bolivarian revolutionary movement, he said, but noted it was still not clear how, or if, concrete decisions would be taken.

This was the reason the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), part of the government coalition and an active participant in the Bolivarian revolution, was unsure if it would take part in the congress, said Bruce.

The opening ceremony also discussed proposals submitted by the spokespersons of the Presidential Councils of the Popular Power, as well as others from the Network for the Defence of Humanity, a collective of Latin American artists and intellectuals.

[Compiled from TeleSUR English.]

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