TITLE III. DUTIES, HUMAN RIGHTS AND GUARANTEES
Chapter I. General Provisions
The State shall guarantee to every individual, in accordance with the progressive principle and without discrimination of any kind, no renounceable, indivisible and interdependent enjoyment and exercise of human rights. Respect for and the guaranteeing of these rights is obligatory for the organs of Public Power, in accordance with the Constitution, the human rights treaties signed and ratified by the Republic and any laws developing the same.
Everyone has the right to the free development of his or her own personality, subject only to the limitations deriving from the rights of others and public and social order.
All persons are equal before the law, and, consequently:
- No discrimination based on race, sex, creed or social standing shall be permitted, nor, in general, any discrimination with the intent or effect of nullifying or encroaching upon the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on equal terms, of the rights and liberties of every individual.
- The law shall guarantee legal and administrative conditions such as to make equality before the law real and effective manner; shall adopt affirmative measures for the benefit of any group that is discriminated against, marginalized or vulnerable; shall protect in particular those persons who, because of any of the aforementioned circumstances, are in a manifestly weak position; and shall punish those who abuse or mistreat such persons.
- People will only be officially addressed as Citizens, except for diplomatic forms.
- No titles of nobility or hereditary distinctions shall be recognized.
The recitation of rights and guarantees contained in this Constitution and in international instruments concerning human rights are not to be understood as negating others inherent to individuals, not expressly mentioned in such recitation. The absence of a law regulating these rights shall not adversely affect the exercise thereof.
The treaties, pacts and conventions relating human rights which have been executed and ratified by Venezuela have a constitutional rank, and prevail over internal legislation, insofar as they contain provisions concerning the enjoyment and exercise of such rights that are more favorable than those established by this Constitution and the laws of the Republic, and shall be immediately and directly applied by the courts and other organs of the Public Power.
No legislative provision shall have retroactive effect, except where it imposes a lesser penalty. Procedural laws shall apply from the moment they go into effect, even to proceedings already in progress; however, in criminal proceedings, evidence already admitted shall be weighed in accordance with the laws that were in effect when the evidence was admitted, insofar as this benefits the defendant.
When there are doubts as to the rule of law that is to be applied, the most beneficial to the defendant will prevail.
Any act on the part of the Public Power that violates or encroaches upon the rights guaranteed by this Constitution and by law is null and void, and the public employees ordering or implementing the same shall incur criminal, civil and administrative liability, as applicable in each case, with no defense on grounds of having followed the orders of a superior.
Everyone has the right to access the organs comprising the justice system for the purpose of enforcing his or her rights and interests, including those of a collective or diffuse nature to the effective protection of the aforementioned and to obtain the corresponding prompt decision.
The State guarantees justice that is free of charge, accessible, impartial, suitable, transparent, autonomous, independent, responsible, equitable and expeditious, without undue delays, superfluous formalities or useless reinstating.
Everyone has the right to be protected by the courts in the enjoyment and exercise of constitutional rights and guarantees, including even those inherent individual rights not expressly mentioned in this Constitution or in international instruments concerning human rights.
Proceedings on a claim for constitutional protection shall be oral, public, brief, free of charge and unencumbered by formalities, and the competent judge shall have the power to restore immediately the legal situation infringed upon or the closest possible equivalent thereto. All time shall be available for the holding of such proceedings, and the court shall give constitutional claims priority over any other matters.
The action for the protection of liberty or safety, may be exercised by any person and the physical custody of the person of the detainee shall be transferred immediately to the court, without delay.
The exercise of this right shall not be affected in any way by the declaration of a state of exception or restriction of constitutional guarantees.
Anyone has the right of access to the information and data concerning him or her or his or her goods which are contained in official or private records, with such exceptions as may be established by law, as well as what use is being made of the same and the purpose thereof, and to petition the court of competent competence for the updating, correction or destruction of any records that are erroneous or unlawfully affect the petitioner’s right. He or she may, as well, access documents of any nature containing information of interest to communities or group of persons. The foregoing is without prejudice to the confidentiality of sources from which information is received by journalist, or secrecy in other professions as may be determined by law.
The State is obliged to investigate and legally punish offenses against human rights committed by its authorities.
Actions to punish the offense of violating humanity rights, serious violations of human rights and war crimes shall not be subject to statute of limitation. Human rights violations and the offense of violating humanity rights shall be investigated and adjudicated by the courts of ordinary competence. These offenses are excluded from any benefit that might render the offenders immune from punishment, including pardons and amnesty.
The State has the obligation to make full reparations to the victims of human rights violations for which it may be held responsible, and to the legal successors to such victims, including payment of damages.
The State shall adopt the necessary legislative measures and measures of other nature to implement the reparations and damage compensation provided for under this article.
The State shall protect the victims of ordinary crimes and endeavor to make the guilty parties provide reparations for the inflicted damages.
Everyone has the right, on the terms established by the human rights treaties, pacts and conventions ratified by the Republic, to address petitions and complaints to the intentional organs created for such purpose, in order to ask for protection of his or her human rights.
The State shall adopt, in accordance with the procedures established under this Constitution and by the law, such measures as may be necessary to enforce the decisions emanating from international organs as provided for under this article.
Chapter II. Nationality and Citizenship
Section One. Nationality
Are Venezuelans by birth:
- Any person who was born within the territory of the Republic.
- Any person who was born in a foreign territory, and is the child of a father and mother who are both Venezuelans by birth.
- Any person who was born in a foreign territory, and is the child of a father or a mother, who is Venezuelan by birth, provided they have established residence within the territory of the Republic or declared their intention to obtain the Venezuelan nationality.
- Any person who was born in a foreign territory, and is the child of a father or a mother who is Venezuelan by naturalization, provided that prior to reaching the age of 18, they establish their residence within the territory of the Republic, and before reaching the age of 25 declare their intention to obtain the Venezuelan nationality.
Are considered Venezuelans by naturalization:
- Foreign nationals who obtain a naturalization letter. In order to do so, they must have at least ten years of uninterrupted residence immediately preceding the application date.The period of residence shall be reduced to five years in the case of foreign nationals whose original nationality is that of Spain, Portugal, Italy, or a Latin American or Caribbean country.
- Foreign nationals who marry a Venezuelan, upon declaring their wish to adopt the Venezuelan nationality, which may be done at least five years after the date of marriage.
- Minors of foreign nationality, on the date of the naturalization of one of his/her parent who exercises parental authority, provided that such minor declares his or her intention of adopting the Venezuelan nationality before reaching the age of 21, and has resided in Venezuela without interruption throughout the five-year period preceding such declaration.
The Venezuelan nationality is not lost upon electing or acquiring another nationality.
Venezuelans by birth cannot be deprived of their nationality. The Venezuelan nationality by naturalization can be revoked only by a judgment handed down by a court in accordance with law.
Venezuelan nationality may be renounced. A person who renounces the Venezuelan nationality by birth may regain such nationality if he or she establishes a residence within the territory of the Republic for a period of at least two years, and expresses the intention of regaining the Venezuelan nationality. Naturalized Venezuelans who renounce the Venezuelan nationality may regain it by again meeting the requirements prescribed under article 33 of this Constitution.
The State shall promote the celebration of international treaties related to nationality, especially with the bordering countries and those indicated in item 2 of Article 33 of this Constitution.
The substantive and procedural rules relating to the acquisition, election, renunciation and recovery of the Venezuelan nationality, as well as the revocation and withdrawal of naturalization, shall be determined by law, in compliance with the foregoing provisions.
Section Two. Citizenship
Venezuelans who are not subject to political disablement or civil interdiction, and meet the age requirements provided for in this Constitution, can exercise citizenship and therefore are entitled to political rights and duties in accordance to this Constitution.
Political rights are reserved to those who are Venezuelans, with the exceptions established in this Constitution.
Naturalized Venezuelans who have entered the country prior to reaching the age of seven years and have resided permanently in Venezuela until reaching legal age shall enjoy the same rights as Venezuelans by birth.
Only Venezuelans by birth who have no other nationality shall be permitted to hold the offices of President of the Republic, Executive Vice President, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the National Assembly, Justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, Chairman of the National Board of Elections, Attorney General of the Republic, Comptroller General of the Republic, General Prosecutor of the Republic, People Defender, Ministers with responsibilities relating to national security, finance, energy and mining or education; Governors and Mayors of border States and Municipalities and those contemplated under the Organic Law on the National Armed Forces.
In order to hold the position of member of the National Assembly, Minister or Governors and Mayors of non-border States and Municipalities, naturalized Venezuelans must be domiciled in Venezuela with at least fifteen years of permanent residence, as well as meeting the capability requirements provided for by law.
Anyone who loses or renounces to nationality loses citizenship. The exercise of citizenship or any political rights can be suspended only by final judicial decision in the cases provided by law.
Chapter III. Civil Rights
The right to life is inviolable. No law shall provide for the death penalty and no authority shall apply the same. The State shall protect the life of persons who are deprived of liberty, serving in the armed forces or civilian services, or otherwise subject to its authority.
Personal liberty is inviolable, therefore:
- No person shall be arrested or detained except by virtue of a court order, unless such person is caught in fraganti. In the latter case, such person must be brought before a judge within forty-eight hours of his or her arrest. He or she shall remain free during trial, except for reasons determined by law and assessed by the judge on a case-by case basis.The bail as required by law for the release of a detainee shall not be subject to tax of any kind.
- Any person under arrest has the right to communicate immediately with members of his or her family, an attorney or any other person in whom he or she reposes trust, and such persons in turn have the right to be informed where the detainee is being held, to be notified immediately of the reasons for the arrest and to have a written record inserted into the case file concerning the physical or mental condition of the detainee, either by himself or herself, or with the aid of specialists. The competent authorities shall keep a public record of every arrest made, including the identity of the person arrested, the place, time, circumstances and the officers who made the arrest.In the case of the arrest of foreign nationals, (male or female), applicable provisions of international treaties concerning consular notification shall also be observed.
- The penalty shall not extend beyond the person of the convicted individual. No one shall be sentenced to perpetual or humiliating penalties. Penalties consisting of deprivation of liberty shall not exceed 30 years.
- Any authority taking measures involving the deprivation of liberty must identify himself or herself.
- No person shall remain under arrest after a release order has been issued by the competent authority or such person’s sentence has been served.
The public authorities, whether military, civilian or of any other kind, even during a state of emergency, exception or restriction or guarantees, are prohibited from effecting, permitting or tolerating the forced disappearance of persons. An officer receiving an order or instruction to carry it out, has the obligation not to obey, and to report the order or instruction to the competent authorities. The intellectual and physical perpetrators accomplices and concealers of the crimes of forced disappearance of a person, as well as any attempt to commit such offense, shall be punished in accordance with law.
Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her physical, mental and moral integrity, therefore:
- No person shall be subjected to penalties, tortures, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment. Every victim of torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment effected or tolerated by agents of the State has the right to rehabilitation.
- Any person deprived of liberty shall be treated with respect due to the inherent dignity of the human being.
- No person shall be subjected without his or her freely given consent to scientific experiments or medical or laboratory examinations, except when such person’s life is in danger, or in any other circumstances as may be detained by law.
- Any public official who, by reason of his official position, inflicts mistreatment or physical or mental suffering on any person or instigates or tolerates such treatment, shall be punished in accordance with law.
A person’s home and any private premise are inviolable. They may not be forcibly entered except by court order, to prevent the commission of a crime or carry out the decisions handed down by the courts in accordance with law, respecting human dignity in all cases.
Any health inspections carried out in accordance with law shall be performed only after notice from the officials ordering or carrying it out.
The secrecy and inviolability of private communications in all forms are guaranteed. The same may not be interfered with except by order of a competent court, with observance of applicable provisions of law and preserving the secrecy of the private issues unrelated to the pertinent proceedings.
All judicial and administrative actions shall be subject to due process, therefore:
- Legal assistance and defense are inviolable rights at all stages and levels during the investigation and proceeding. Every person has the right to be notified of the charges for which he or she is being investigated, to have access to the evidence and to be afforded the necessary time and means to conduct his or her defense. Any evidence obtained in violation of due process shall be null and void. Any person declared guilty shall have the right to appeal, except in the cases established by this Constitution and by the law.
- Any person shall be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
- Every person has the right to be heard in proceedings of any kind, with all due guarantees and within such reasonable time limit as may be legally detained, by a competent, independent and impartial court established in advance. Anyone who does not speak Spanish or is unable to communicate verbally is entitled to an interpreter.
- Every person has the right to be judged by his or her natural judges of ordinary or special competence, with the guarantees established in this Constitution and by law. No person shall be put on trial without knowing the identity of the party judging him or her, nor be adjudged by exceptional courts or commissions created for such purpose.
- No person shall be required to confess guilt or testify against himself or herself or his or her spouse or partner, or any other relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity or the second degree of affinity. A confession shall be valid only if given without coercion of any kind.
- No person shall be punished for acts or omissions not defined under preexisting laws as a crime, offense or infraction.
- No person shall be placed on trial based on the same facts for which such person has been judged previously.
- Every person shall request from the State the restoration or remediation of a legal situation adversely affected by unwarranted judicial errors, and unjustified delay or omissions. The foregoing is without prejudice to the right of the individual to seek to hold the magistrate or judge personally liable, and that of the State to take action against the same.
Everyone shall freely transit by any means throughout the national territory, to change his or her domicile and residence, to leave and return to the Republic, to move his or her goods or belongings within the country and to bring his or her goods into or remove them from the country, subject only to such limitations as may be prescribes by law. In cases involving the granting of a concession, the law shall provide for the circumstances in which an alternate route must be provided. Venezuelans shall enter the country without need for authorization of any kind.
No act of the Public Power may establish against Venezuelans the penalty of banishment from the national territory.
Everyone has the right to petition or make representations before any authority or public official concerning matters within their competence, and to obtain a timely and adequate response. Whoever violates this right shall be punished in accordance with law, including the possibility of dismissal from office.
Everyone has the right to assemble for lawful purposes, in accordance with law. The State is obligated to facilitate the exercise of this right.
Everyone has the right to meet publicly or privately, without obtaining permission in advance, for lawful purposes and without weapons. Meetings in public places may be regulated by law.
No person shall be subjected to slavery or servitude. Traffic of persons, in particular women, children and adolescents, in any form, shall be subject to the penalties prescribes by law.
Every person has the right to protection by the State, through the citizen safety organs regulated by law, from situations that affect or constitute a threat, vulnerability or risk to the physical integrity of individuals, their properties, the enjoyment of rights or the Fulfillment of duties.
Participation by citizens in programs for purposes of prevention, citizen safety and emergency management shall be regulated by a special law.
The State’s security corps shall respect the human dignity and rights of all persons. The use of weapons or toxic substances by police and security officers shall be limited by the principles of necessity, convenience, opportunity and proportionality in accordance with law.
Every person has the right to his own name, to the summates of his father and mother, and to know the identity of the latter. The State guarantees the right to investigates maternity and paternity. All persons have the right to be registered free of charge with the Civil Registry Office after birth, and to obtain public documents constituting evidence of their biological identity, in accordance with law. Such documents shall not contain any mention classifying the parental relationship.
Everyone has the right to express freely his or her thoughts, ideas or opinions orally, in writing or by any other form of expression, and to use for such purpose any means of communication and diffusion, and no censorship shall be established. Anyone making use of this right assumes full responsibility for everything expressed.
Anonymity, war propaganda, discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance are not permitted. Censorship restricting the ability of public officials to report on matters for which they are responsible is prohibited.
Communications are free and plural, and involve the duties and responsibilities indicated by law. Everyone has the right to timely, truthful and impartial information, without censorship, in accordance with the principles of this Constitution, as well as the right to reply and corrections when they are directly affected by inaccurate or offensive information. Children and adolescents have the right to receive adequate information for purposes of their overall development.
The State guarantees the freedom of cult and religion. All persons have the right to profess their religious faith and cults, and express their beliefs in private or in public, by teaching and other practices, provided such beliefs are not contrary to moral, good customs and public order. The autonomy and independence of religious confessions and churches is likewise guaranteed, subject only to such limitations as may derive from this Constitution and the law. Father and Mother are entitled to have their sons and daughters receive religious education in accordance with their convictions.
No one shall invoke religious beliefs or discipline as a means of evading compliance with law or preventing another person from exercising his or her rights.
Every person is entitled to protection of his or her honor, private life, intimacy, self-image, confidentiality and reputation.
The use of electronic information shall be restricted by law in order to guarantee the personal and family intimacy and honor of citizens and the full exercise of their rights.
All persons have the right to freedom of conscience, and to express the same except those practices affecting personality or constituting criminal offense. Objections of conscience may not be invoked in order to evade compliance with law or prevent others from complying with law or exercising their rights.
Chapter IV. Political Rights and Public Referenda
Section One. Political Rights
All citizens have the right to participate freely in public affairs, either directly or through their elected representatives.
The participation of the people in forming, carrying out and controlling the management of public affairs is the necessary way of achieving the involvement to ensure their complete development, both individual and collective. It is the obligation of the State and the duty of society to facilitate the generation of optimum conditions for putting this into practice.
Suffrage is a right. lt. shall be exercised through free, universal, direct and secret elections. The law shall guarantee the principle of personalization of suffrage and proportional representation.
All Venezuelans who have reached the age of 18 and are not subject to political disablement or civil interdiction are qualified to vote.
In state, municipal and parish elections, the right to vote shall be extended to foreign nationals who have reached the age of 18 and have resided in Venezuela for more than ten years, subject to the limitations established in this Constitution and by law, and provided they are not subject to political disablement or civil interdiction.
Persons who have been convicted of crimes committed while holding office or other offenses against public property, shall be ineligible to run for any office filled by popular vote, for such period as may be prescribed by law after serving their sentences, depending on the seriousness of the offense.
Voters have the right to obtain from their public representatives, transparent and periodic accounting for their office, in accordance with the offered program.
All citizens have the right of association for political purposes, through democratic methods of organization, operation and direction. Their governing organs and candidates for offices filled by popular vote, shall be selected by internal elections with participation of their members. No financing of associations for political purposes with State funds shall be permitted. Matters relating to the financing of and private contributions to associations for political purposes shall be regulated by law, as shall the oversight mechanisms to guarantee propriety as to the sources and handling of such funds.
Law shall regulate as well, political and election campaigns, the duration thereof and spending limits with a view pursuing its democratization.
Citizens, on their own initiative, and associations for political purposes, shall be entitled to participate in the electoral process, putting forward candidates. The financing of political advertising and election campaigns shall be regulated by law. The authorities of associations for political purposes shall not enter into contracts with organs in the public sector.
Citizens have the right to demonstrate, peacefully and without weapons, subject only to such requirements as may be established by law.
The use of firearms and toxic substances to control peaceful demonstrations is prohibited. The activity of police and security corps in maintaining public order shall be regulated by law.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela recognizes and guarantees the right of asylum and refuge.
Extradition of Venezuelans is prohibited.
Participation and involvement of people in the exercise of their sovereignty in political affairs can be manifested by: voting to fill public offices, referendum, consultation of public opinion, mandate revocation, legislative, constitutional and constituent initiative, open forums and meetings of citizens whose decisions shall be binding among others; and in social and economic affairs: citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, including those of a financial nature, savings funds, community enterprises, and other forms of association guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.
The law shall establish conditions for the effective, functioning of the means of participation provided for under the present article.
Section Two. Popular Referendum
Matters of special national transcendence may be referred to a consultative referendum, on the initiative of the President of the Republic, taken at a meeting of the Cabinet; by resolution of the National Assembly, passed by a majority vote; or at the request of a number of voters constituting at least 10% of all voters registered on the national, civil and electoral registry. Matters of special state, municipal and parish transcendence may also be referred to a consultative referendum. The initiative shall be taken by the Parish Board, the Municipal Council and to the Legislative Council, by the vote of two third of its members; by the Mayor and the Governor or by a number of voters constituting at least 10% of the total number of voters registered in the pertinent circumscription.
All magistrates and other offices filled by popular vote are subject to revocation.
Once half of the term of office to which an official has been elected has elapsed, a number of voters constituting at least 20% of the voters registered in the pertinent circumscription may extend a petition for the calling of a referendum to revoke such official’s mandate.
When a number of voters equal to or greater than the number of those who elected the official vote in favor of revocation, provided that a number of voters equal to or greater than 25% of the total number of registered voters have voted in the revocation election, the official’s mandate shall be deemed revoked, and immediate action shall be taken to fill the permanent vacancy in accordance with the provided for in this Constitution and by law.
The revocation of the mandate for the collegiate bodies shall be performed in accordance with the law.
During the term to which the official was elected, only one petition to recall may be filed.
Bills under discussion by the National Assembly shall be submitted to a referendum when at least two-thirds of the members of the Assembly so decide. If the referendum ends in an affirmative vote of approval, provided that the 25% of the voters registered before the Civil and Electoral Registry have concurred to the election, the bill conceded shall be enacted into law.
Any international agreement, convention or treaty which might compromise the national sovereignty or transfer authority to supranational organs, may be submitted to a referendum on the initiative of the President of the Republic, taken at a meeting of the Cabinet by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Assembly or by 15% of the voters registered on the civil and electoral registry.
Statutes whose abrogation are requested on the initiative of a number of voters constituting at least 10% of the voters registered in the civil and electoral registry, or by the President of the Republic taken at a meeting of the Cabinet, shall be submitted to a referendum for its abrogation in whole or in part.
Decrees with the force of law issued by the President of the Republic, making use of the authority prescribed under article 236, section 8 of this Constitution, may also be submitted to an abrogatory referendum, when it is requested by a number of voters constituting at least 5% of the total number of voters registered in the civil and electoral registry.
In order for the abrogatory referendum to be valid, a number of voters constituting at least 40% of the total number of voters registered in the civil and electoral registry shall be essential.
It shall not be possible to submit budget laws to an abrogatory referendum, neither those establishing or modifying taxes, relating to public credit, to amnesty, the protection, guaranteeing and developing human rights, nor those which ratify international treaties.
There shall not be more than one abrogatory referendum on the same matter during the same constitutional term.
Chapter V. Social and Family Rights
The State shall protect families as a natural association in society, and as the fundamental space for the overall development of persons. Family relationships are based on equality of rights and duties, solidarity, common effort, mutual understanding and reciprocal respect among family members. The State guarantees protection to the mother, father or other person acting as head of a household.
Children and adolescents have the right to live, be raised and develop in the bosom of their original family. When this is impossible or contrary to their best interests, they shall have the right to a substitute family, in accordance with law. Adoption has effects similar to those of parenthood, and is established in all cases for the benefit of the adoptee, in accordance with law. International adoption shall be subordinated to domestic adoption.
Motherhood and fatherhood are fully protected, whatever the marital status of the mother or father. Couples have the right to decide freely and responsibly how many children they wish to conceive, and are entitled to access to the information and means necessary to guarantee the exercise of this right. The State guarantees overall assistance and protection for motherhood, in general, from the moment of conception, throughout pregnancy, delivery and the puerperal period, and guarantees full family planning services based on ethical and scientific values.
The father and mother have the shared and inescapable obligation of raising, training, educating, maintaining and caring for their children, and the latter have the duty to provide care when the former are unable to do so by themselves. The necessary and proper measures to guarantee the enforceability of the obligation to provide alimony shall be established by law.
Marriage, which is based on free consent and absolute equality of rights and obligations of the spouses, is protected. A stable de facto union between a man and a woman which meets the requirements established by law shall have the same effects as marriage.
Children and adolescents are full legal persons and shall be protected by specialized courts, organs and legislation, which shall respect, guarantee and develop the contents of this Constitution, the law, the Convention on Children’s Rights and any other international treaty that may have been executed and ratified by the Republic in this field. The State, families and society shall guarantee full protection as an absolute priority, taking into account their best interest in actions and decisions concerning them. The State shall promote their progressive incorporation into active citizenship, and shall create a national guidance system for the overall protection of children and adolescents.
Young people have the right and duty to be active participants in the development process. The State, with the joint participation of families and society, shall create opportunities to stimulate their productive transition into adult life, including in particular training for and access to their first employment, in accordance with law.
The State shall guarantee senior citizens the full exercise of their rights and guarantees. The State, with the joint participation of families and society, is obligated to respect their human dignity, autonomy and to guarantee them full care and social security benefits to improve and guarantee their quality of life. Pension and retirement benefits granted through the social security system shall not be less than the urban minimum salary. Senior citizens shall be guaranteed to have the right to a proper work, if they indicate a desire to work and are capable to.
Any person with disability or special needs has the right to the full and autonomous exercise of his or her abilities and to its integration into the family and community. The State, with the joint participation of families and society, guarantees them respect for their human dignity, equality of opportunity and satisfactory working conditions, and shall promote their training, education and access to employment appropriate to their condition, in accordance with law. It is recognized that deaf persons have the right to express themselves and communicate through the Venezuelan sign language.
Every person has the right to adequate, safe and comfortable, hygienic housing, with appropriate essential basic services, including a habitat such as to humanize family, neighborhood and community relations. The progressive meeting of this requirement is the shared responsibility of citizens and the State in all areas.
The State shall give priority to families, and shall guarantee them, especially those with meager resources, the possibility of access to social policies and credit for the construction, purchase or enlargement of dwellings.
Health is a fundamental social right and the responsibility of the State, which shall guarantee it as part of the right to life. The State shall promote and develop policies oriented toward improving the quality of life, common welfare and access to services. All persons have the right to protection of health, as well as the duty to participate actively in the furtherance and protection of the same, and to comply with such health and hygiene measures as may be established by law, and in accordance with international conventions and treaties signed and ratified by the Republic.
In order to guarantee the right to health, the State creates, exercises guidance over and administers a national public health system that crosses sector boundaries, and is decentralized and participatory in nature, integrated with the social security system and governed by the principles of gratuity, universality, completeness, fairness, social integration and solidarity. The public health system gives priority to promoting health and preventing disease, guaranteeing prompt treatment and quality rehabilitation. Public health assets and services are the property of the State and shall not be privatized. The organized community has the right and duty to participate in the making of decisions concerning policy planning, implementation and control at public health institutions.
Financing of the public health system is the responsibility of the State, which shall integrate the revenue resources, mandatory Social Security contributions and any other sources of financing provided for by law. The State guarantees a health budget such as to make possible the attainment of health policy objectives. In coordination with universities and research centers, a national professional and technical training policy and a national industry to produce health care supplies shall be promoted and developed. The State shall regulate both public and private health care institutions.
All persons are entitled to Social Security as a nonprofit public service to guarantee health and protection in contingencies of maternity, fatherhood, illness, invalidity, catastrophic illness, disability, special needs, occupational risks, loss of employment, unemployment, old age, widowhood, loss of parents, housing, burdens deriving from family life, and any other social welfare circumstances. The State has the obligation and responsibility of ensuring the efficacy of this right, creating a universal and complete Social Security system, with joint, unitary, efficient and participatory financing from direct and indirect contributions. The lack of ability to contribute shall not be ground for excluding persons from protection by the system. Social Security financial resources shall not be used for other purposes. The mandatory assessments paid by employees to cover medical and health care services and other Social Security benefits shall be administered only for social purposes, under the guidance of the State. Any net remaining balances of capital allocated to health, education and Social Security shall be accumulated for distribution and contribution to those services. The Social Security system shall be ruled by a special organic law.
All persons have the right and duty to work. The State guarantees the adoption of the necessary measures so that every person shall be able to obtain productive work providing him or her with a dignified and decorous living and guarantee him or her the full exercise of this right. It is an objective of the State to promote employment. Measures tending to guarantee the exercise of the labor rights of self employed persons shall be adopted by law. Freedom to work shall be subject only to such restrictions as may be established by law.
Every employer shall guarantee employees adequate safety, hygienic and environmental conditions on the job. The State shall adopt measures and create institutions such as to make it possible to control and promote these conditions.
The State guarantees the equality and equitable treatment of men and women in the exercise of the right to work. The state recognizes work at home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth. Housewives are entitled to Social Security in accordance with law.
Work is a social fact and shall enjoy the protection of the State. The law shall make the necessary provisions for improving the material, moral and intellectual conditions of workers. In order to fulfill this duty of the State, the following principles are established:
- No law shall establish provisions that affect the intactness and progressive nature of labor rights and benefits. In labor relations, reality shall prevail over forms or appearances.
- Labor rights are unrenounceable; any action, agreement or convention involving a waiver of or encroachment upon these rights is null and void. Concessions and settlements are possible only at the end of the employment relationship, in accordance with the requirements established by law.
- When there are doubts concerning application or conflicts among several rules, or in the interpretation of a particular rule, that most favorable to the worker shall be applied. The rule applied must be applied in its entirety.
- Any measure or act on the part of an employer in violation of this Constitution is null and void, and of no effect.
- All types of discrimination because of political reasons, age, race, creed, sex or any other characteristic is prohibited.
- Work by adolescents at tasks that may affect their overall development is prohibited. The State shall protect them against any economic and social exploitation.
Working hours shall not exceed eight hours per day or 44 hours per week. Where permitted by law, night work shall not exceed seven hours per day or 35 hours per week. No employer shall have the right to require employees to work overtime. An effort shall be made to reduce working hours progressively in the interest of society and in such sphere as may be determined, and appropriate provisions shall be adopted to make better use of free time for the benefit of the physical, spiritual and cultural development of workers.
Workers are entitled to weekly time off and paid vacations on the same terms as for days actually worked.
Every worker has the right to a salary sufficient to enable him or her to live with dignity and cover basic material, social and intellectual needs for himself or herself and his or her family. The payment of equal salary for equal work is guaranteed, and the share of the profits of a business enterprise to which workers are entitled shall be determined. Salary is not subject to garnishment, and shall be paid periodically and promptly in legal tender, with the exception of the food allowance, in accordance with law.
The State guarantees workers in both the public and the private sector a vital minimum salary which shall be adjusted each year, taking as one of the references the cost of a basic market basket. The form and procedure to be followed, shall be established by law.
All workers have the right to benefits to compensate them for length of service and protect them in the event of dismissal. Salary and benefits are labor obligations due and payable immediately upon accrual. Any delay in payment of the same shall bear interest, which constitutes a debt certain and shall enjoy the same privileges and guarantees as the principal debt.
Stable employment shall be guaranteed by law, with provisions as appropriate to restrict any form of unjustified dismissal. Dismissals contrary to this Constitution are null and void.
The liability of the natural or juridical person for whose benefit services are provided through an intermediary or contractor shall be determined by law, without prejudice to the job and severance liability of the latter. The State shall establish, through the competent organ, the liability to which employers in general are subject in the event of simulation or fraud for the purpose of distorting, disregarding or impeding the application of labor legislation.
Workers, without distinction of any kind and without need for authorization in advance, have the right freely to establish such union organizations as they may deem appropriate for the optimum protection of their rights and interests, as well as the right to join or not to join the same, in accordance with law. These organizations are not subject to administrative dissolution, suspension or intervention. Workers are protected against any act of discrimination or interference contrary to the exercise of this right. The promoters and the members of the board of directors of the union enjoy immunity from dismissal from their employment for the period and on the terms required to enable them to carry out their functions.
For purposes of the exercise of union democracy, the bylaws and regulations of union organizations, shall provide for the replacement of boards of directors and representatives by universal, direct and secret suffrage. Any union leaders and representatives who abuse the benefits deriving from union freedom for their personal gain or benefit shall be punished in accordance with law. Boards of directors members of union organizations shall be required to file a sworn statement of assets.
All employees in both public and the private sector have the right to voluntary collective bargaining and to enter into collective bargaining agreements, subject only to such restrictions as may be established by law. The State guarantees this process, and shall establish appropriate provisions to encourage collective relations and the resolution of labor conflicts. Collective bargaining agreements cover all workers who are active as of the time they are signed, and those hired thereafter.
All workers in the public and private sector have the right to strike, subject to such conditions as may be established by law.
Chapter VI. Culture and Educational Rights
Cultural creation is free. This freedom includes the right to invest in, produce and disseminate the creative, scientific, technical and humanistic work, as well as legal protection of the author’s rights in his works. The State recognizes and protects intellectual property rights in scientific, literary and artistic works, inventions, innovations, trade names, patents, trademarks and slogans, in accordance with the conditions and exceptions established by law and the international treaties executed and ratified by the Republic in this field.
Cultural values are the unrenounceable property of the Venezuelan people and a fundamental right to be encouraged and guaranteed by the State, efforts being made to provide the necessary conditions, legal instruments, means and funding. The autonomy of the public administration of culture is recognized, on such terms as may be established by law. The State guarantees the protection and preservation, enrichment, conservation and restoration of the cultural tangible and intangible heritage and the historic memories of the nation. The assets constituting the cultural heritage of the nation are inalienable, not subject to distrait or to statute of limitations. Penalties and sanctions for damage caused to these assets shall be provided for by law.
The folk cultures comprising the national identity of Venezuela enjoy special attention, with recognition of and respect for intercultural relations under the principle of equality of cultures. Incentives and inducements shall be provided for by law for persons, institutions and communities which promote, support, develop or finance cultural plans, programs and activities within the country and Venezuelan culture abroad. The State guarantees cultural workers inclusion in the Social security system to provide them with a dignified life, recognizing the idiosyncrasies of cultural work, in accordance with law.
The State guarantees the issuance, receiving and circulation of cultural information. The communications media have the duty of assisting in the dissemination of the values of folk traditions and the work of artists, writers , composers, motion-picture directors, scientists and other creators of culture of the country. The television media shall include subtitles and translation into Venezuelan sign language for persons with hearing problems. The terms and modalities of these obligations, shall be established by law.
Education is a human right and a fundamental social duty; it is democratic, free of charge and obligatory. The State assumes responsibility for it as an irrevocable function of the greatest interest, at all levels and in all modes, as an instrument of scientific, humanistic and technical knowledge at the service of society. Education, is a public service, and is grounded on the respect for all currents of thought, to the end of developing the creative potential of every human being and the full exercise of his or her personality in a democratic society based on the work ethic value and on active, conscious and joint participation in the processes of social transformation embodied in the values which are part of the national identity, and with a Latin American and universal vision. The State, with the participation of families and society, promotes the process of civic education in accordance with the principles contained in this Constitution and in the laws.
Every person has the right to a full, high-quality, ongoing education under conditions and circumstances of equality, subject only to such limitations as derive from such persons own aptitudes, vocation and aspirations. Education is obligatory at all levels from maternal to the diversified secondary level. Education offered at State institutions is free of charge up to the undergraduate university level. To this end, the State shall make a priority investment in accordance with United Nations recommendations. The State shall create and sustain institutions and services sufficiently equipped to ensure the admission process, ongoing education and program completion in the education system. The law shall guarantee equal attention to persons with special needs or disabilities, and to those who have been deprived of liberty or do not meet the basic conditions for admission to and continuing enrollment in the education system.
The contributions of private individuals to public education programs at the secondary and university levels shall be tax deductible in accordance with the pertinent law.
Persons of recognized good moral character and proven academic qualifications shall be placed in charge of education. The State shall encourage them to remain continuously up to date, and shall guarantee stability in the practice of the teaching profession, whether in public or private institutions, in accordance with this Constitution and the law, with working conditions and a standard of living commensurate with the importance of their mission. Admissions, promotion and continued enrollment in the education system shall be provided for by law, and shall be responsive to evaluation criteria based on merit, to the exclusion of any partisan or other nonacademic interference.
The professions requiring a degree and the conditions that must be met to practice them, including, professional organization membership, shall be determined by law.
Every natural or juridical person, subject, to demonstration of its ability and provided it meets at all times the ethical, academic, scientific, financial, infrastructure and any other requirements that may be established by law, shall be permitted to found and maintain private educational institutions under the strict inspection and vigilance of the State, with the prior approval of the latter.
Environmental education is obligatory in the various levels and modes of the education system, as well as in informal civil education. Spanish, Venezuelan geography and history and the principles of the Bolivarian thought shall be compulsory courses at public and private institutions up to the diversified cycle level.
The communications media, public and private, shall contribute to civil education. The State guarantees public radio and television services and library and computer networks, with a view to permitting universal access to information. Education centers are to incorporate knowledge and application of new technologies and the resulting innovations, in accordance with such requirements as may be established by law to this end.
The State shall recognize the autonomy of universities as a principle and status that allows teachers, students and graduates from its community, to devote themselves to the search for knowledge through research in the fields of science, humanistic and technology, for the spiritual and material benefit of the Nation. Autonomous universities shall adopt their own rules for their governance and operation and the efficient management of their property, under such control and vigilance as may be established by law to this end. Autonomy of universities is established in the planning, organization, preparation and updating of research, teaching and extension programs. The inviolability of the university campus is established. Experimental national universities shall attain their autonomy in accordance with law.
The State recognizes as being in the public interest science, technology, knowledge, innovation and the resulting applications, and the necessary information services, the same being fundamental instruments for the country’s economic, social and political development, as well as for national sovereignty and security. To promote and develop these activities, the State shall allocate sufficient resources and shall create a national science and technology system in accordance with law. The private sector shall contribute with resources as well. The State shall guarantee the enforcement of the ethical and legal principles that are to govern research activities in science, humanism and technology. The manners and means of fulfilling this guarantee shall be determined by law.
All persons have a right to sports and recreation as activities beneficial to individual and collective quality of life. The State assumes responsibility for sports and recreation as an education and public health policy, and guarantees the resources for the furtherance thereof. Physical education and sports play a fundamental role in the overall education of childhood and adolescents. Instruction in the same is obligatory at all levels of public and private education up to the diversified cycle, with such exceptions as may be established by law. The State guarantees full attention to athletes without discrimination of any kind, as well as support for high-level competitive sports and evaluation and regulation of sports organizations in both the public and the private sector, in accordance with law.
Incentives and inducements shall be established, for the persons, institutions and communities that promote athletes and develop or finance sports activities, plans and programs in the country.
Chapter VII. Economic Rights
All persons may devote themselves freely to the economic activity of their choice, subject only to the limitations provided for in this Constitution and those established by law for reasons of human development, security, health, environmental protection or other reasons in the social interest. The State shall promote private initiative, guaranteeing the creation and fair distribution of wealth, as well as the production of goods and services that meet the needs of the populace, freedom of work, enterprise, commerce, industry, without prejudice to the power of the State to promulgate measures to plan, rationalize and regulate the economy and promote the overall development of the country.
Monopolies shall not be permitted. Any act, activity, conduct or agreement of private individuals which is intended to establish a monopoly or which leads by reason of its actual effects to the existence of a monopoly, regardless of the intentions of the persons involved, and whatever the form it actually takes, is hereby declared contrary to the fundamental principles of this Constitution. Also contrary to such principles is abuse of a position of dominance which a private individual, a group of individuals or a business enterprise or group of enterprises acquires or has acquired in a given market of goods or services, regardless of what factors caused such position of dominance, as well as in the event of a concentration of demand. In all of the cases indicated, the State shall be required to adopt such measures as may be necessary to prevent the harmful and restrictive effects of monopoly, abuse of a position of dominance and a concentration of demand, with the purpose of protecting consumers and producers and ensuring the existence of genuine competitive conditions in the economy.
In the case of the exploitation of natural resources which are the property of the Nation or the providing of services of a public nature, on an exclusive basis or otherwise, the State shall grant concessions for a certain period, in all cases ensuring the existence of adequate consideration or compensation to serve the public interest.
Economic crime, speculation, hoarding, usury, the formation of cartels and other related offenses, shall be punished severely in accordance with law.
The right of property is guaranteed. Every person has the right to the use, enjoyment, usufruct and disposal of his or her goods. Property shall be subject to such contributions, restrictions and obligations as may be established by law in the service of the public or general interest. Only for reasons of public benefit or social interest by final judgment, with timely payment of fair compensation, the expropriation of any kind of property may be declared.
Confiscation of property shall not be ordered and carried out, but in the cases permitted by this Constitution. As an exceptional measure, the property of natural or legal persons of Venezuelan or foreign nationality who are responsible for crimes committed against public patrimony may be subject to confiscation, as may be the property of those who illicitly enriched themselves under cover of Public Power, and property deriving from business, financial or any other activities connected with unlawful trafficking in psychotropic and narcotic substances.
All persons shall have the right of access to goods and services of good quality, as well as to adequate and non-misleading information concerning the contents and characteristics of the products and services they consume, to freedom of choice and to fair and dignified treatment. The mechanisms necessary to guarantee these rights, the standards of quality and quantity for goods and services, consumer protection procedures, compensation for damages caused and appropriate penalties for the violation of these rights shall be established by law.
The right of workers and the community to develop associations of social and participative nature such as cooperatives, savings funds, mutual funds and other forms of association is recognized. These associations may develop any kind of economic activities in accordance with the law. The law shall recognize the specificity of these organizations, especially those relating the cooperative, the associated work and the generation of collective benefits.
The state shall promote and protect these associations destined to improve the popular economic alternative.
Chapter VIII. Rights of Native People
The State recognizes the existence of native peoples and communities, their social, political and economic organization, their cultures, practices and customs, languages and religions, as well as their habitat and original rights to the lands they ancestrally and traditionally occupy, and which are necessary to develop and guarantee their way of life. It shall be the responsibility of the National Executive, with the participation of the native peoples, to demarcate and guarantee the right to collective ownership of their lands, which shall be inalienable, not subject to the law of limitations or distrait, and nontransferable, in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
Exploitation by the State of the natural resources in native habitats shall be carried out without harming the cultural, social and economic integrity of such habitats, and likewise subject to prior information and consultation with the native communities concerned. Profits from such exploitation by the native peoples are subject to the Constitution and the law.
Native peoples have the right to maintain and develop their ethnical and cultural entity, world view, values, spirituality and holy places and places of cult. The State shall promote the appreciation and dissemination of the cultural manifestations of the native peoples, who have the right to their own education, and an education system of an intercultural and bilingual nature, taking into account their special social and cultural characteristics, values and traditions.
Native peoples have the right to a full health system that takes into consideration their practices and cultures. The State shall recognize their traditional medicine and supplementary forms of therapy, subject to principles of bioethics.
Native peoples have the right to maintain and promote their own economic practices based on reciprocity, solidarity and exchange; their traditional productive activities and their participation in the national economy, and to define their priorities. Native peoples have the right to professional training services and to participate in the preparation, implementation and management of specific training programs and technical and financial assistance services to strengthen their economic activities within the framework of sustainable local development. The State shall guarantee to workers belonging to native peoples the enjoyment of the rights granted under labor legislation.
Collective intellectual property rights in the knowledge, technologies and innovations of native peoples are guaranteed and protected. Any activity relating to genetic resources and the knowledge associated with the same, shall pursue collective benefits. The registry of patents on this ancestral knowledge and these resources is prohibited.
Native peoples have the right to participate in politics. The State shall guarantee native representation in the National Assembly and the deliberating organs of federal and local entities with a native population, in accordance with law.
Native peoples, as cultures with ancestral roots, are part of the Nation, the State and the Venezuelan people, which is one, sovereign and indivisible. In accordance with this Constitution, they have the duty of safeguarding the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
The term people in this Constitution shall in no way be interpreted with the implication it is imputed in international law.
Chapter IX. Environmental Rights
It is the right and duty of each generation to protect and maintain the environment for its own benefit and that of the world of the future. Everyone has the right, individually and collectively, to enjoy a safe, healthful and ecologically balanced life and environment. The State shall protect the environment, biological and genetic diversity, ecological processes, national parks and natural monuments, and other areas of particular ecological importance. The genome of a living being shall not be patentable, and the field shall be regulated by the law relating to the principles of bioethics.
It is a fundamental duty of the State, with the active participation of society, to ensure that the populace develops in a pollution-free environment in which air, water, soil, coasts, climate, the ozone layer and living species receive special protection, in accordance with law.
The State shall develop a zoning policy taking into account ecological, geographic, demographic, social, cultural, economic and political realities, in accordance with the premises of sustainable development, including information, consultation and male/female participation by citizens. An organic law shall develop the principles and criteria for this zoning.
Any activities capable of generating damage to ecosystems must be preceded by environmental and socio-cultural impact studies. The State shall prevent toxic and hazardous waste from entering the country, as well as preventing the manufacture and use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. A special law shall regulate the use, handling, transportation and storage of toxic and hazardous substances.
In contracts into which the Republic enters with natural or juridical persons of Venezuelan or foreign nationality, or in any permits granted which involve natural resources, the obligation to preserve the ecological balance, to permit access to, and the transfer of technology on mutually agreed terms and to restore the environment to its natural state if the latter is altered, shall be deemed included even if not expressed, on such terms as may be established by law.
Chapter X. Duties
Venezuelans have the duty to honor and defend their native land symbols and cultural values and to guard and protect the sovereignty, nationhood, territorial integrity, self determination and interests of the nation.
Everyone has the duty to comply with and obey this Constitution and the laws and other official acts promulgated by the organs of Public Power.
Everyone has a duty to fulfill his or her social responsibilities and participate together in the political, civic and community life of the country, promoting and protecting human rights as the foundation of democratic coexistence and social peace.
Everyone has the duty to contribute toward public expenditures by paying such taxes, assessments and contributions as may be established by law.
Everyone, in accordance with law, has the duty to perform such civilian or military service as may be necessary for the defense, preservation and development of the country, or to deal with situations involving a public calamity. No one shall be subjected to forcible recruitment.
Everyone has the duty of rendering its services in the electoral functions assigned to them by law.
The obligations incumbent upon the State in accordance with this Constitution and the law, in Fulfillment of the States commitments to the general welfare of society, do not preclude the obligations which, by virtue of solidarity, social responsibility and humanitarian assistance, are incumbent upon private individuals according to their abilities.
Appropriate provisions shall be enacted by law to compel the fulfillment of these obligations in those cases in which such compulsion is necessary. Those aspiring to practice any profession have a duty to perform community service for such period, in such place and on such terms as may be provided for by law.