TITLE IV THE PUBLIC POWER
CHAPTER I General Provisions
The Constitution and the laws define the powers of the Public Power, and their exercise must be subject thereto.
Each of the branches of the Public Power has its own functions, but the organs on which their exercise is incumbent shall collaborate with one another in the accomplishment of the aims of the State.
Any usurped authority is without effect and its acts are null and void.
Any decision arrived at by direct or indirect resort to force or by a meeting of individuals with subversive intent is null and void.
The exercise of the Public Power carries with it individual liability for abuse of power or for violation of the law.
The law shall establish an administrative career by setting standards for the entry, advancement, transfer, suspension, and retirement of employees in the National Public Administration, and shall provide for their incorporation into the social security system.
Public employees are at the service of the State, not at that of any political faction.
Every public official or employee is obligated to comply with the requirements established by law for holding his position.
No one may hold more than one remunerated public position at the same time, except for academic, temporary, welfare, teaching, aldermanic, or electoral positions specified by law. The acceptance of a second position not exempted by this article implies resignation from the first, except in those cases provided for in article 141 or where the position is as an alternate who does not definitively replace the principal.
No one in the service of the Republic, of the States, of the Municipalities, or of any other public juridical person may make a contract with them, either directly or through an intermediary or in representation of another, with such exceptions as may be established by law.
No public official or employee may accept offices, honors, or compensation from foreign governments without prior authorization from the Senate.
Without the approval of Congress no contract involving the national interest may be entered into, except those that are necessary for the normal conduct of the public administration or those permitted by law. In no case may new concessions of hydrocarbons or other natural resources specified by law be granted unless the Chambers in joint session, duly informed by the National Executive as to all pertinent circumstances, so authorize, under the conditions they fix, with no waiver there-by of the fulfillment of legal formalities.
Likewise, no contract involving the national, state, or municipal interest may be entered into with foreign states or public agencies, or with companies not domiciled in Venezuela, or be transferred to them, without the approval of Congress.
The law may require particular conditions as to nationality, domicile, or others, or may require special guarantees, in contracts involving the public interest.
In contracts involving the public interest, unless their nature renders it inappropriate, a clause shall be considered incorporated, even if not expressly stated, whereby any questions and disputes which may arise concerning such contracts and which are not amicably settled by the contracting parties shall be decided by the competent courts of the Republic, in accordance with its laws, and may not for any reason or cause give rise to foreign claims.
International treaties or conventions concluded by the National Executive must be approved by a special law in order to be valid, unless they concern the execution or consummation of pre-existing obligations of the Republic, the application of principles expressly recognized by it, the execution of ordinary acts in international relations, or the exercise of powers which the law expressly confers on the National Executive. However, the Delegated Committee of Congress may authorize the provisional execution of international treaties or conventions whose urgency so requires, and these are to be submitted in all cases to the subsequent approval or disapproval of Congress.
In all cases, the National Executive shall report to Congress, at its next sessions, all international juridical agreements entered into, with a precise indication of their nature and contents, whether subject to its approval or not.
In international treaties, conventions , and agreements concluded by the Republic, a clause shall be inserted whereby the parties bind themselves to decide by peaceful means recognized by international law or previously agreed upon by them, if such is the case, all controversies that may arise between the parties by reason of their interpretation or execution, if this is not inappropriate and if the procedure to be followed in concluding so permits.
Since the Republic possesses the Right of Ecclesiastical Patronage, this will be exercised according to law. However, treaties or conventions may be concluded to regulate relations between the Church and the State.
Military and civilian authority may not be exercised simultaneously by a single official, except by the President of the Republic, who shall be, by reason of his office, Commander in Chief of the National Armed Forces.
The National Armed Forces form a non-political, obedient, and non-deliberative institution, organized by the State to ensure the national defense, the stability of democratic institutions, and respect for the Constitution and the laws, the observance of which shall always be above any other obligation. The National Armed Forces shall be at the service of the Republic, and in no case at that of any person or political faction.
Only the State may possess and use weapons of war. All those that exist, that are manufactured, or are imported into the country shall become the property of the Republic, without compensation or proceedings. The manufacture, trade, possession, and use of other weapons shall be regulated by law.
The States and Municipalities may organize only police forces, in accordance with the law.
The constitutional terms of the National Power shall be five years, except by special provision in this Constitution. The terms of the state and municipal public powers shall be by national law and may not be less than two years or more than five.
Competence of the National Power
The following are within the competence of the National Power:
- The international relations of the Republic;
- The protection and supreme oversight of the general interests of the Republic, the preservation of the peace, and the just application of the laws throughout the national territory;
- The flag, coat of arms, hymn, holidays, decorations, and honors of a national character;
- The naturalization, admission, extradition, and expulsion of foreigners;
- The identification and national police services;
- The organization and government of the Federal District and of the Federal Territories and Dependencies;
- The monetary system and the circulation of foreign currencies;
- The organization, collection, and control of taxes on income, capital, and estates and gifts; of levies on imports and for registration and fiscal stamps, and those on the production and consumption of goods which the law reserves in whole or in part to the National Power, such as those on alcohol, liquors, cigarettes, matches, and saltworks; those on mines and hydrocarbons; and all other taxes, excises, and revenues not attributed to the States or Municipalities which the law may create with a national character;
- The organization and operation of the customs;
- The operation and administration of mines and hydrocarbons, saltworks, unimproved lands, and oysterpearl beds; and the conservation, development, and utilization of forests, waters, and other natural resources of the country.
The National Executive may, in conformity with the law, sell, lease, or make free grants of unimproved lands; but saltworks may not be alienated and mining concession may not be granted for an indefinite period.
The law shall establish a system of special appropriations for the benefit of States within whose territory the property mentioned in this numbered paragraph is located, without prejudice to the possibility of it also establishing other special appropriations for the benefit of other States. In all cases these appropriations shall be subject to the standards on coordination provided for in article 229 of this Constitution.
Unimproved lands on sea, river, or lake islands may not be alienated, and concessions for their use may be granted only in a manner that does not involve, directly or indirectly, a transfer of the ownership of the land,
- The organization and mode of operation of the National Armed Forces;
- The system of weights and measures;
- The national census and statistics;
- The establishment, coordination, and unification of technical standards and procedures for engineering, architectural, and urban development works;
- The execution of public works of national interest;
- The directives end bases for national education;
- The technical direction, the establishment of administrative standards, and the coordination of services for protection of public health. The law may provide for the nationalization of these public services in accordance with the collective interest;
- The conservation and stimulation of agricultural, fishery, and forest production;
- The promotion of low-cost housing;
- Matters relating to land transportation, to air, maritime, river, and lake navigation, and to wharves and other port works;
- The opening and maintenance of national means of communication; aerial traction cables and railways, even if located within the boundaries of a State, with the exception of urban streetcars or cable cars, the concession and regulation of which are within the jurisdiction of the respective Municipalities;
- The mails and telecommunications;
- The administration of justice and the creation, organization, and competence of the courts; the Public Ministry;
- Legislation regulating the guarantees conferred by this Constitution; civil, commercial, criminal, penitentiary and, procedural legislation; legislation on elections; legislation on expropriation by reason of public or social utility, that on public credit; that on intellectual, artistic, and industrial property; agrarian legislation; that on immigration and settlement; that on tourism; that on labor, welfare, and social security; that on animal and plant health; that on notaries and public registers; that on banks and other institutions of credit; that on lotteries, racetracks, and betting in general; and that concerning all matters within the national competence;
- Any other matter which the present Constitution assigns to the National Power or which pertains to it by its nature or kind.
Congress, by a vote of two thirds of the members of the Chamber, may assign to the States or Municipalities particular matters within the national competence, in order to promote administrative decentralization.