The Republic, Its Territory and Political Divisions

PREAMBLE

THE CONGRESS OF THE REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA having called for the vote of the Legislative Assemblies of the States of Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Yaracuy, and Zulia, and having seen the favorable result of the voting, in representation of the Venezuelan people, for whom it invokes protection of God Almighty; with the aim of maintaining the independence and territorial integrity of the Nation, strengthening its unity, ensuring the freedom, peace, and stability of its institutions;

protecting and uplifting labor, upholding human dignity, promoting the general well being and social security, achieving an equitable participation by all in the enjoyment of wealth, according to the principles of social justice; and promoting the development of the economy in the service of man;

maintaining social and legal equality, without discrimination on account of race, sex, creed, or social conditions;

cooperating with all other nations, and especially with the sister republics of the Hemisphere, in the aims of the international community, on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty, the self determination of peoples, the universal guarantee of the individual and social rights of the human person, and the repudiation of war, of conquest, and of economic predominance as an instrument of international policy;

supporting the democratic order as the soul and irrenouncable means of ensuring the rights and dignity of citizens and favoring the peaceful extension to all the peoples of the earth;

and preserving and increasing the moral and historical patrimony of the Nation forged by the people in their struggles for freedom and justice and by the thoughts and deeds of the great servant of their country, whose highest expression is Simon Bolivar, the Liberator, decrees the following Constitutions

TITLE I THE REPUBLIC, ITS TERRITORY AND POLITICAL DIVISIONS

CHAPTER I Fundamental Provisions

Article 1
The Republic of Venezuela is forever and irrevocably free and independent from any domination or protection by a foreign power.

Article 2
The Republic of Venezuela is a federal state, within the terms affirmed by this Constitution.

Article 3
The government of the Republic of Venezuela is and always shall be democratic, representative, responsible, and alternating.

Article 4
Sovereignty resides in the people, who exercise it, by means of suffrage, through the organs of the Public Power.

Article 5
The National flag, with the colors yellow, blue, and red; the national hymn "Glory to a Brave People;" and the coat of arms of the Republic, are the symbols of the country.
The law shall determine their characteristics and regulate their use.

Article 6
The official language is Spanish.

CHAPTER II The Territory and Political Divisions

Article 7
The national territory is that which belonged to the Captaincy General of Venezuela before the political transformation initiated in 1810, with the modifications resulting from treaties validly concluded by the Republic.

Sovereignty, authority, and vigilance over the territorial sea, the contiguous maritime zone, the continental shelf, and the air space, and also the ownership and exploitation of property and resources contained within them, shall be exercised to the extent and under the conditions determined by law.

Article 8
The national territory may never be ceded, transferred, leased, or in any way alienated, even partially or temporarily, to a foreign power.

Within such area as is determined, foreign States may only acquire, under guarantees of reciprocity and with the limitations established by law, the real property necessary for the seat of their diplomatic or consular representation. The acquisition of real property by international organizations may be authorized only under the conditions and restrictions established by law. In all these cases sovereignty over the land shall always be retained.

Article 9
The national territory is divided, for the purposes of the political organization of the Republic, into the States, the Federal District, the Federal Territories, and the Federal Dependencies.

Article 10
States may merge, alter their present boundaries, and decide upon exchanges or cessions of territory through agreements approved by their Legislative Assemblies and ratified by the Senate.

Alterations of boundaries and exchanges or cessions of territory between the Federal District or the Federal Territories or Dependencies and the States may be accomplished through agreements between the National Executive and the pertinent States, ratified by the corresponding legislative Assemblies and by the Senate.

Article 11
The city of Caracas is the capital of the Republic and the permanent seat of the supreme organs of the National Power.
The provisions of this article do not prevent the temporary exercise of the National Power in other places in the Republic.
A special law may coordinate the different jurisdictions existing within the metropolitan area of Caracas, without impairing municipal autonomy.

Article 12
The Federal District and the Federal Territories shall be organized by organic laws, in which municipal autonomy shall be maintained.

Article 13
By a special law a Federal Territory may be given the status of a State and allotted all or part of the area of the Territory concerned.

Article 14
The Federal Dependencies are those portions of the territory of the Republic not included in the States, Territories, and Federal District, and also such islands as may be formed or appear in the territorial sea or in the sea covering the continental shelf. Their system of government and administration shall be established by law.

Article 15
The law may establish a special juridical system for those territories which, by the free determination of their inhabitants and with the approval of Congress, are incorporated into the Republic.

CHAPTER III
The States

Article 16
The States are autonomous and equal as political entities. They are obligated to maintain the independence and integrity of the Nation; and to comply with and enforce the Constitution and the laws of the Republic.

They shall give faith and credit to public acts issued by national authorities, other States, and municipalities and shall see that they are executed.

Each State may preserve its present name or change it.

Article 17:
The following are within the competence of each State:
  1. The organization of its public powers, in conformity with this Constitution;
  2. The organization of its Municipalities and other local entities and their political and territorial division, in accordance with this Constitution and the national laws;
  3. The administration of its property and the expenditure of the constitutional allotment and other revenues pertaining to it, subject to the provisions of articles 229 and 235 of this Constitution;
  4. The use of the public credit, subject to the limitations and requirements established by national laws;
  5. The organization of the urban and rural police and the determination of the branches of this service to be placed under municipal jurisdiction;
  6. Any matters entrusted to it in accordance with article 137;
  7. Whatever is not, in conformity with this Constitution, within national or municipal competence.
Article 18:
The States may not:
  1. Create customhouses or import, export, or transit taxes on foreign or domestic goods, or other sources of revenue under national or municipal jurisdiction;
  2. Tax consumer goods before they enter into circulation within their territory;
  3. Prohibit the consumption of goods produced outside their territory, or tax them differently from those produced within it;
  4. Levy taxes on livestock or on their products or by-products.
Article 19:
The Legislative Power in each State is exercised by a Legislative Assembly whose members must meet the same qualifications as those required by this Constitution to be a Deputy and shall be elected by direct vote with proportional representation of minorities, according to law.

The Legislative Assembly is competent to examine and monitor any act of the State public administration.

Members of the Legislative Assemblies shall enjoy immunity within the territory of their State from ten days before the beginning of sessions until ten days after the latter close or the member leaves office. This immunity shall be governed by the rules of this Constitution relative to the immunity of Senators and Deputies, to the extent that they are applicable.

Article 20:
The powers of the Legislative Assembly are:
  1. To legislate on matters within state competence;
  2. To approve or disapprove annually the actions of the Governor, in a special session called for that purpose;
  3. To sanction the Budget Law of the State; The total expenditures authorized by the Budget Law may in no case exceed the estimate of revenues for the pertinent period made by the Governor in the bill presented to the Legislative Assembly;
  4. Any others attributed to it by law.

Article 21
The government and administration of each State are the responsibility of a Governor, who in addition to being executive head of the State is the agent of the National Executive in his district.

To be a Governor one must be a Venezuelan by birth, over thirty years of age, and a layman.

Article 22
The law may establish the manner of electing and removing Governors, in accordance with the principles set forth in article 3 of this Constitution. The pertinent bill must first be approved by the Chambers in joint session, by a vote of two thirds of their members. The law shall not be subject to veto by the President of the Republic. Until the Law provided for in this article is enacted, Governors shall be freely appointed and removed by the President of the Republic.

Article 23:
The powers and duties of a Governor are;
  1. To comply with and enforce this Constitution and the laws, and to execute and see to the execution of orders and resolutions received from the National Executive;
  2. To appoint and remove those officials and employees under him whose designation is not conferred upon some other authority, without prejudice to the laws governing the administrative career;
  3. To present to the Legislative Assembly a report of his administration for the year immediately preceding;
  4. To present to the Legislative Assembly the bill for the Budget Law.
Article 24:
Disapproval of the acts of a Governor shall cause his immediate removal in the event that this is expressly agreed upon by a vote of two thirds of the members of the Legislative Assembly .

CHAPTER IV
Municipalities

Article 25
The Municipalities constitute the primary and autonomous political unit within the national organization. They are juridical persons and their representation shall be exercised by such organs as are determined by law.

Article 26
The organization of Municipalities and other local entities shall be governed by this Constitution, by the rules established in national organic laws for the fulfillment of the constitutional principles, and by legal provisions enacted by the States in conformity therewith.

Article 27
The law may establish different systems for the organization, government, and administration of Municipalities, based on population, economic development, geographical location, and other important factors. In all cases the municipal organization shall be democratic and respond to the particular nature of the local government.

Article 28
Municipalities may be grouped into Districts. Municipalities may also join together for specified purposes within their competence.

Article 29:
The autonomy of a Municipality covers
  1. The election of its authorities;
  2. Freedom of action on matters within its competence;
  3. The creation, collection, and expenditure of its revenues; Acts of Municipalities may not be challenged except before jurisdictional authorities, in accordance with this Constitution and the laws.
Article 30
Within municipal competence are the government and administration of the interests peculiar to the entity, particularly in relation to its property and revenues and to the matters of concern to local life, such as urban development, supplies, traffic, culture, health, social welfare popular credit institutions, tourism, and municipal police.
The law may grant municipalities exclusive competence in particular matters and may also impose on them a compulsory minimum of services.

Article 31:

Municipalities shall have the following revenues
  1. The proceeds from their common lands and their own property;
  2. Excises for the use of their property and services;
  3. Licenses on industry, business, and vehicles and taxes on urban real property and public entertainment;
  4. Fines imposed by municipal authorities and others attributed to them by law;
  5. State or national subsidies and donations; and
  6. Any other special taxes, excises and contributions that they impose according to law.
Article 32
The common lands are inalienable and imprescriptible. They may be alienated only for construction in the cases established by municipal ordinance and after compliance with the formalities indicated therein. Those specified by law may also be alienated for purposes of agrarian reform, but those required for the development of urban centers shall in all cases be presented.

Article 33
Municipalities may make use of Public credit subject to such limitations and requirements as are established by law.

Article 34
Municipalities shall be subject to the limitations established in article 18 of this Constitution and may not levy on the products of agriculture, stock-raising, or food fishery any taxes other than those on retail trade.